When I was nine or ten years old, someone told me about a great way to sneak in to the movies. At least I thought it was a great idea. I was told that all I had to do was walk backwards into the movie theater when everyone else was leaving.
One day my friends and I decided to try it at the Lincoln Theater. (I grew up in Illinois so everything had Lincoln's name on it.) As soon as the movie was over and the crowd started streaming out, we started walking backwards towards the exit doors.
Okay, so it wasn't such a great idea. We ran in to all kinds of people, got called all kinds of names, and then backed right into the propped-open doors. Either I was not a very smart kid or I was incredibly gullible, but you had to respect my willingness to try new things.
Walking backwards may not be such a great idea, but what does work is to work backwards in designing your sales and experience strategies.
In most companies the executives, buyers, home office team, and/or owners work from their perspective, not the customer's. They first determine what they want to achieve and how they're going to do it. The goal might be increasing sales, traffic, or sell-through of particular products. The solution seems to always be a training, which may or may not be the answer.
There is a better way. Start with the customer and work (not walk) backwards to the office.
Let's say you want to increase sell through of green widgets by 15%. What has to happen on the floor to get customers to buy 15% more widgets?
I've learned to start looking for the answer on the sales floor itself, asking frontline employees how they think we can create success. Then I spend time observing both customers and employees to identify other potential opportunities.
Working backwards, identify what you want the customer to think and do that will increase widget sales. Then, what behaviors and actions does the staff need to start, stop, do more or less of to enable the customer to think and do those things? That's a big piece that is frequently missing in sales and service experience strategies.
From there you do the work you've always done, but do it backwards. Identify what tools and processes need to be adapted, added, or changed. What merchandising and in-store messaging need to happen? Once you've answered those questions you can start to determine the training, communications, and in-house support plan. Continue to work backwards to the marketing strategy.
The difference between the two approaches is that by working backwards, you start where success has to happen: on the floor with the customer and the staff. None of the rest matters if you miss there.
You'll always be more successful if you work backwards. Maybe I was just ahead of my time that day at the Lincoln Theater.
So let me ask, how well are you working backwards to find the right opportunities and solutions to improving your sales and service experience?
About Doug Fleener
Doug Fleener, a proven business and customer service experience expert, helps companies achieve performance that exceeds customer and employee expectations resulting in more sales, profits, and customers.
Learn more about our services at Sixth Star Consulting, or call Doug at 844-861-7803 to discuss how he can help you achieve higher levels of performance and results. Learn about Doug's keynotes and workshops at DougFleener.com. Sample a Sixth Star University online training program at SixthStarU.com.