We all know endorsements from big names can boost product sales. Athletes like LaBron James (except in Cleveland), movie stars like Sally Field or retired coaches like Jimmy Johnson all get mega-bucks to hit the TV screen and urge us to buy.
For boat dealers, getting big bucks endorsers isn’t in the cards. It doesn’t have to be, according to Bruce D. Sanders, PhD, a retail consulting psychologist and author of “Retailers Edge: Boost Profits Using Shopper Psychology.” Dr. Sanders claims our sales staff can be our celebrity endorsers!
In a recent blog at RIMtailing.blogspot.com, Dr. Sanders cited GameStop to illustrate his concept. GameStop claims it’s the world’s largest video game retailer with more than 6,000 stores in more than 15 countries. Apparently Best Buy has a pilot program underway, using in-store kiosks, where customers can trade in video games for store credit. Experts say Best Buy wants to grab more entertainment software market share from GameStop.
Dr. Sanders quickly points out that gaining market share from GameStop won’t be easy. A very big advantage GameStop has over its competition is that its employees are gaming enthusiasts. Among other things, GameStop has rental programs to allow their staff to master the games. Serious gamers come to store employees to learn the tips, traps and tricks. And, when a GameStop staffer praises a game, the endorsement is coming with expertise worthy of celebrity status, says Dr. Sanders.
I can confirm exactly what he’s saying. In Chicago two weeks ago, I accompanied my grandson, Mason, to a GameStop store for a new game. As he narrowed his choices, he would ask the salesman about the games that caught his eye. In every case, one or the other of the salesmen there relayed first-person experience, good and bad, with that game. In the end, Mason selected a just-released game the salesman said he had already played for about 12 hours, found it easy to learn and claimed it had excellent action and graphics. That endorsement closed the deal.
Dr. Sanders recommends asking three questions: First, what opportunities do you provide your sales staff to thoroughly learn about each of the products or services they’re responsible for selling? No question, hands-on experience with a product(s) gives the sales staff an edge.
Second, to what degree do you take the recommendations of your staff as to what products should be pruned out of your mix because the staff feels uncomfortable “endorsing” them? Again, personal experience is the key – no one wants to endorse a poor product.
Finally, how do you make your expert staff into celebrities? One idea is to feature their photos in ads? Another, how about prominently placing in the store big photo enlargements featuring sales, service and/or parts staff obviously enjoying a boat, accessory, etc.?
So, forget the big names. Customers will respond to the advice and counsel of a sales “celebrity” who can “endorse” a product from hands-on experience.