In business—and especially for the independent business owner—the bottom line is always going to be the top priority. Ensuring that your business in bringing in enough revenue to keep the lights on and your doors open is critical, and rightfully so. But that revenue won’t continue to flow into your custom integration or consumer tech retail business if you don’t have a regular pipeline of warm bodies coming into your store to talk about the next project they want to tackle, or the new 8K TV that they’re hoping to get their hands on.
So, while the goal of the customer sales process has traditionally been to get the client to open their wallet, a secondary goal ought to be having every customer—whether they spend money with you in that moment or not—leave your store having felt like they developed a relationship with you and your business. People = Business, and without a solid reputation of being a go-to kid of business People aren't going to show up to your Business. And that’s exactly what HTSA has set out to help its members with through a new series of Master Class sessions aimed at the art of the relationship.
“We want to change the game on the human side of things,” Keith Esterly, HTSA’s recently-hired Chief Learning Architect, told Dealerscope at a recent regional training session just outside of Philadelphia. “It’s our job as human beings to make people’s days better for having met us, and that’s what we’re trying to get at with the Relationship Science Master Class.”
The three-day Philly-based event we caught a glimpse of, which is part of a new sales education initiative for the group, was the first regional class offered by HTSA. Esterly, who joined the group in February, has offered various customized iterations of the program for HTSA members at their stores and in coordination with HTSA vendors. Truthfully, the experience is hard to put into words and, as cliché as it sounds, is something that has to be experienced in order to understand just how unique the training is. As Esterly himself explained, the program is adaptive and evolving even from day to day as he picks up on things attendees bring up and point out to him.
Though a constant work in progress, the goals of the program remain consistent: to give attendees the tools to develop better, stronger relationships with their customers. HTSA accomplishes this through a series of high level sales concepts and tactical day-to-day interpersonal relationship strategies. Esterly is able to give his audience applicable and accessible advice for improved client interactions. It's essentially a re-wiring of the salesperson's brain and how they're used to speaking with their potential client. Something as simple as how you welcome a customer into your store or showroom gets analyzed—from the words you use, to the environment in the showroom itself—and retooled to be more effective.
What’s most amazing about the training program is that throughout the entire three days attendees are engaged with Esterly, there’s not even a whiff of a conversation about product. While it’s so easy as an expert on the things you’re selling to fall back into the comfort zone of talking about the features of a product and why the customer needs that particular piece of technology, it flies in the face of everything a solid sales strategy should involve. Rather, a salesperson should work to understand what problem the client is trying to solve and work together with them to achieve that solution.
At the end of the day, success in this business is incumbent upon your ability to become “the guy” for your client—whether that's the AV guy, the computer guy, etc. Even if they aren’t necessarily spending money with you in that moment or on that day, you want to be there for them and give them a great experience because, who knows, they may refer a friend of theirs to you, or they could come back in a year or two and be ready to drop six-figures with you on a major project. That only happens when you develop a sense of trust and respect and excitement with your customers. And with these relationship science courses, HTSA is well down the path towards making all of its members expert smooth talkers.
In fact, at this event, one of the attendees actively put some of Esterly's tips to use and came back with a signed contract from a client who was previously on the fence about a major proposal. So, while I struggle to find the words to properly express how impactful this training can be, we'll just let HTSA's members results speak for themselves.