Marketing and sales can often be straightforward and simple when you work from your heart and do what’s right for the customer. A friend of mine recently related a few stories from her early years when she worked in an apparel store, and I was so impressed and touched by her then-teenage business approach that I want to share her thoughts with you and how these relate to social selling.

Here were her guiding principles, and my interpretations on how much of what she did some 40 years ago is still applicable today in not only the retail market but the financial services industry, too.

  1. Discover what the customer really wants – They might say they just want a pair of jeans or a shirt, but pointing them to racks of clothing is not helpful. Instead, talk to them; find out if they are looking for work attire, casual clothing, or something that just makes them feel good and happy.

I love this first mantra. What does your customer really want? Not, what do you want to sell them, but what do they want. Instead of laying out a bunch of products and services, akin to racks of clothing, are you addressing your customers’ wants and needs? Remember, today is all about permission-based marketing, so you need to focus on client needs with your emails, website content, blogs, and social media interaction.

  1. Help the customer find the right fit – This often takes a bit of diplomacy, but it’s important that a customer find the style or cut that is the right item for them. Often this just means redirecting them to some other clothes that might work better.

So even if you discover what your clients and prospects want, the sales process doesn’t stop there. You need to make sure the product is a good fit as you dig a little deeper and start evaluating options.

  1. Don’t be afraid to let a customer walk away without buying – Sometimes you just don’t have what the customer needs, and that’s okay. Moreover, you might recommend a competitor who does have what the customer wants. Interestingly, those customers respect your honesty and your recommendation, and probably come back when your products do meet their needs.

Whoa, this from a 16-year-old. I like it. Yep, sometimes you cannot give a client what they need at that time. However, that’s not to say you won’t be able to help them in the future. Even if you are never able to secure their business, you still might secure their loyalty and references.

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