Is there anything else business owners can do to figure out what customers really want?
Yes. They want to ask themselves, "OK. What is it that's special about me?" Dan calls it your unique selling proposition, your USP. "What is it about my business that a prospect would choose to give me their business as opposed to everyone else who does what I do? What is it about me that's different, that's special? What is it that I do or I offer? What kind of experience do they have when they come onto my premises or they get my service?" So that's another thing. Because otherwise you're just a commodity.
And consumers can get a commodity anywhere.
Yes. Also, the experience--that's an added value. People will pay you more money for a memorable experience, something that they can remember with pleasure and happiness that they can talk about to other people. Something that validates who they are, who they think they are or who they would like to be. Something that gives them the opportunity to try something that they've never tried before. [It's about] the different services that you add. Let's say you have an unusual guarantee, or one of the things that you sell when somebody buys something is a 24-hour hotline that they can call and get help. Or if someone buys something, [the business] will install it for you. So services add value to a business and can be your USP. Like the Geek Squad at Best Buy.
I want to chat with you a little bit about the Sales Choreography chapter. You talk about sales choreography as a process. It does a couple of things. It influences customer perception of a business and--these are your words--"it all but eliminates competition in the hearts and minds of customers." What are the basic elements of a good sales choreography program and do you have an example of how it influences a first impression?
There are two different kinds of sales choreography. There is psychological and there is physical. So it depends. What it is--and I hate to use the word manipulate, although I do use it in the book--but in a way what it does is it manipulates the client or customers into thinking or feeling or responding to your business, your staff, your product, your services. It influences them to respond in a certain way and obviously in a way that you want them to respond, which is to buy from you. But it also influences the way they behave.
Let me give you an example of my own business. A lot of people look down on working girls and feel that because of what they do that they're not worthy or deserving of respect. So one of the things that I always did is I always referred to my girls as young ladies because I thought of them as young ladies and I wanted the clients to think of them and treat them that way, too--that's the most important thing. So from the very beginning we made it clear that these girls were young ladies, these were not, you know, your standard hooker. It made a huge difference. The clients really did treat them extremely well. I think that also had something to do with the kind of clients that we had.
Which had to have something to do with your presentation.
That's another thing about sales choreography: It attracts the kind of people that you do want and repels the kind of people that you don't want. That can be psychological or physical when you have to--the only way you can get into a store is to be let in, you know, the person has to come to the door and let you in. That intimidates a lot of people. It mostly intimidates people, though, that couldn't afford to spend money with you anyway.
The Harry Winston model you mention in the book.
They've got to make an appointment, yes.
I'm thinking of another example you gave of Frederic Fekkai, the hair salon. The difference you highlighted--the stylist approached you from the front and talked to you first; she didn't just come up behind you and tell you to put your head back into the wash basin--seems to be a small one.
But it made an impression on you. So it seems like the difference between a company that does it well and a company that does it great is pretty small. That seems to be something anybody could do but nobody thinks about it.
Exactly, nobody thinks about it.
Mike Werling, the managing editor of Sea Magazine, has written for Entrepreneur.com, Senior Market Advisor, Boomer Market Advisor and Broadmoor magazines.