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The Tobacco Industry’s #1 Resource For Business Growth and Profitability | September/October 2014

Vol. 1 No. 1

Is Your Smoke Shop

Throwing MONEY Down the Drain? Pg.. 38


Contents | Digital Issue 2014

Is Your Smoke Shop Throwing MONEY Down the Drain?

FEATURES 18

FEATURED READING: Modern Day Selling: Unlocking Your Hidden Potential

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COMPANY SPOTLIGHT XXXXXXXXXXXXX

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COMPANY SPOTLIGHT XXXXXXXXXXXXX

By: Brian Barfield

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SMOKE SHOP SUCCESS STORY XXXXXXXXXXXXX

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INTRODUCING

THE HAZE VAPORIZER

www.hazevaporizers.com

Haze is the first revolutionary vaporizer with a dual bowl, allowing the user to vaporize dried herbs and oils interchangeably. Featuring 4 different temperature settings displayed on the front with LED indicators and a built-in heat-exchange mechanism to provide a cool vapor output. Extremely lightweight and 100% portable, the Haze is powered by a long-lasting, rechargeable, Lithium-Ion battery. Color options include graphite, midnight, and white. 2013 Haze Technologies | All Rights Reserved | US and International Patents Pending

678-620-3730 sales@VaporizerUSA.net

W W W. VA P O R I Z E R U S A . N E T


Table of Contents

12 INDUSTRY ALERTS

Sales 52

Five Things Every Retail Salesperson Should Do Each Morning By: Bob Demaria

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Creating the Ideal Retail Store By: Harry J. Friedman

See what’s happening with vendors, designers and manufacturers

Leadership 68

By: Bob Demaria

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Technology 44

Getting Your Smoke Shop In Tech Shape

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The Four Basic Customer Types

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Management 24

Great Marketing Starts Inside Your Door By: Jimmy DeGroot

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Creating an Identitiy and Promoting It By: Bob Demaria

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Rediscovering the Power of Direct Mail Advertising

The Impact Sales Have On Your Business By: Malcolm Alderton

By: Brian Barfield

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Transforming Your Store Into A Retail Sales Experience By: John Cordova

By: Jeffrey Arnold

Marketing

Learning from mistakes

Is Your Smoke Shop Transacting its Card Payments Securely? By: Joe Radest

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The Power of Newsletter Marketing By: Ann Arnold

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Let Your Customers Decide How Much is To Much By: Harry J. Friedman

By: Bob Epstein

Buyer Solutions A section dedicated to showcasing products that you can buy to keep your store up to date with the latest styles and trends

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Pages 70-71

Followed by the Ad Index on 72 www.smokeshopadvisor.com


www.Song Of India.com 1-800-231-2201 info@SongOfIndia.com

International & Domestic Distributors Welcome

The Best Selling Incense


F rom

Smoke Shop Advisor Magazine www.smokeshopadvisor.com

A FMM MEDIA PUBLICATION 8913 Stone Green Way, #200 | Louisville, KY 40220 Phone 502.749.0992 Facsimile 877.737.3936 www.fmm-media.com Editor-In-Chief, Michael Manley michael@smokeshopadvisor.com 502-653-8568 Associate Editor, Matthew Ball matt@smokeshopadvisor.com 502-653-8570 Marketing Director, Lisa Angus lisa@smokeshopadvisor.com 502-653-8569 Administration, Diana Manley diana@smokeshopadvisor.com 502-653-8571 Smoke Shop Advisor Magazine is published bi-monthly (6 Issues a year) by FMM Media, LLC. 8913 Stone Green Way # 200, Louisville, KY 40220. Subscriptions are free to qualified U.S. subscribers. Single copies and back issues are $7.99 each (United States) and $10.99 each (International). United States Subscriptions are $54.00 annually. International Subscriptions are $75.00 annually. Visit www.smokeshopadvisor.com for fresh content updated frequently and to access articles on a range of tobacco industry topics. FMM Media provides its contributing writers latitude in expressing opinions, advice, and solutions. The views expressed are not necessarily those of FMM Media and by no means reflect any guarantees that material facts are accurate or true. FMM Media accepts no liability in respect of the content of any third party material appearing in this magazine. Copyright 2012. All rights reserved. Smoke Shop Advisor Magazine content may not be photocopied or reproduced or redistributed without the consent of publisher. For questions regarding magazine or for subscriptions, call 502.749.0992 or email info@smokeshopadvisor.com. ARTICLE REPRINTS: For high quality reprints of articles, call 502.749.0992 or via email at info@smokeshopadvisor.com.

THANK YOU FOR ALL THOSE WHO SUPPORT SMOKE SHOP ADVISOR MAGAZINE, INCLUDING OUR READERS AND SPONSORS!

the

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his first issue of Smoke Shop Advisor magazine has been four years in the making. Through the recession that hit the American economy full force in 2008, times have been difficult for everyone. However, despite the times, through the help of everyone involved in our inaugural issue that you are currently reading, we have successfully launched what we know will be an asset and educational guide in the smoke shop industry. Especially for those independent businesses who work so hard everyday to compete with the larger corporate counterparts. We are excited about the many opportunities we will be offering in this and future issues of our publication. First and foremost, you can expect to see us primarily loaded with great editorials—SSA Solutions—contributed from leading industry experts who can pass to independent smoke shop owners their own advice and tips for success. Reading the one to two company spotlights in each issue will allow you to get to know the vendors that bring you the innovative products that can grow your business. The featured smoke shop “success story” will allow you to meet others like you who have their own successes to share. Vendors will have the opportunity to showcase their unique products and services that you rely on to maintain and grow your business. A warm extension of gratitude is offered to all of those who were so willing to help us make this launch possible: our vendors, our writers and my wonderful staff. If not for the contributions made and the willingness to participate in what we know will become a success, the success would not have had a chance to become a reality. We’ve enjoyed working with you, whether it was over the past few years or the past two weeks, and we greatly look forward to working with you as we embark upon 2014/2015. We are proud that we will be able to bring every issue of SSA magazine to you at no cost, thanks to the participation of our advertisers. Therefore, if you enjoy reading Smoke Shop Advisor, please support our advertisers, those who make this possible. We hope you enjoy reading this issue as much as we've enjoyed putting it together for you and that you walk away from it with something invaluable—knowledge of how to optimize the services and products your own jewelry store provides. Now go and take care of your customers. Michael L. Manley Editor, Smoke Shop Advisor (SSA)

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FEATURED READING

Modern Day Selling: Unlocking Your Hidden Potential by: Brian Barfield

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ver the past 20 years the concept of traditional sales training has generally stayed the same. The same message of greeting, asking open-ended questions, presenting, overcoming objection and closing has been shared in many different ways. The process of clientele and after-sales marketing has also remained the same as well. All these methods at certain times were effective and for a season brought success. However, somewhere along the way we forgot about the customer and now we find ourselves meeting opposition as the bond of trust has been severed between sales associate and customer. The world has evolved and with it so has the customer. Unfortunately the sales training that we give our sales associates has not been able to keep up with the changing environment. Modern Day Selling offers fresh new insight and is a detailed road map that is designed to help sales associates find true and lasting success by conducting business with the core principles of trust, honesty and integrity. The time has come to move away from sales tactics and back to giving our customers the best service and a memorable experience. Modern Day Selling is designed to help you reconnect with your customer in a unique way that helps you build a lasting relationship based on trust. When this is achieved, sales become easy and almost effortless as your customer base grows over time. Modern Day Selling is often compared as the new hi-definition and surround sound of sales training to give sales associates a better performance. Within the book you will find fresh insight into understanding the modern day customer with, “The Four Basic Customer Types.” Modern Day Selling also focuses on unlocking your hidden potential by teaching selfmanagement in, “The Power of Self Examination”; “Maintaining Your Passion and Energy” the fuel that drive you to greatness; “Creating a Show-time Experience” showman and seller; “Serving while Selling” a forgotten past-time; “Overcoming Fear” understanding how fear operates, and much more.

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About the author: Brian Barfield has over 18 years experience in the retail industry. He spent over 10 years of his career as a successful manager working with many elite sales professionals. Looking for a greater success, he applied his management skills to transform himself into a sales associate selling over one million dollars yearly at The Gem Collection in Tallahassee, Florida. The secret to his success is selling with a passion and energy that creates a show like experience for his customers that keeps them coming back for more. In creating a large and loyal customer base, he has discovered many hidden treasures buried within that helped him unlock the secrets to modern day selling. What he discovered is that over time the customer’s needs have expanded to more than just a professional sales presentation. The pressures and demands of the modern world have left today’s customers desiring a more fulfilling experience. Unfortunately, sales training in the retail industry have not evolved quite as quickly. The days of greeting, asking open ended questions, overcoming objections, and closing are no longer sufficient to fully meet the needs of the modern day customer. Although these sales skills are still very important, today’s sales professional needs a new vision that will set them apart from the standard style of selling. Brian Barfield has dedicated his career to helping today's sales professional succeed! SSA How to get the book: Modern Day Selling can be found on most book related websites around the world in paperback and e-book. The most common places are www.amazon.com, www. barnesandnoble.com, www.booksamillion.com, and www.bookdepository.com. You can visit Brian Barfield’s website online at www.moderndayselling.com and email brian@moderndayselling.com. www.smokeshopadvisor.com


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SUCCESS STORY

LOGO GOES HERE COMPANY INFO HERE ADDRESS, ETC.

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They say a journey of a thousand miles begins with the first few small steps. The same can be said about the journey of running a successful small business--one must first start with a few small steps. Fourteen years ago, in 1998, Naifeh Fine Jewelry began that journey. Valerie Naifeh, an entrepreneur in Oklahoma City, started out small (a one hundred thousand dollar loan) and has grown a very successful jewelry store doing three million in gross sales in 2011. Et di rerrovid unt. Cus de dolese venis plame nonserundi te nam, consectem assin rectio qui consediates explabo rumqui sequi conem restiis eaquundam quam, to que minum faciet, si sam fuga. Nusdae sum veliqua escipientium aborias pientiore, si ad quid eum excerum eate il ium ligent, totam aut recabore provitaectas eumet, velignis millupta as simus iunto to modi sit minci veriosant videl ipiendipsant quamus evelist, volor sim aut dolut utet di accus dolore voluptibus ut ipitatur? Bis dolestibus ea dunt faccum qui ut ut voluptatem sam qui alia dolloribus doluptiae molupta tiandus, consedi ium a quaturit optaspero evelignati que nitat. Quia cus serum fugiae eum resseni ium ulliquam quidebitae omnis audaest iatur, omnit vent mo iliquat veris sandign imendae pre dunt iur sunda voluptam, quam quas molut re cusapid ipictec tatioritem sequati rectem volenient. Ximus molut dolor aciandam in nullaut exped quam rem. Idi tent, nectum acitia dolupta dis doluptat ero to qui doluptate volorum coreictorro ipsam fugias enet rem am fuga. Ebis dolorec tatque prerum alibus rehenis sitibus mo consequi doluptas mo volorepudit quid ut ute non eaqui officipitium anisci reium velit antiorum quamust ea aut opta alibuscime aut as aut moluptas et qui volores eatem dolupic tentium sequae

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MANAGEMENT

Is your Smoke Shop

Transacting

its Card Payments Securely? By: Joe Radest Joe Radest started his career in card payments in 1998 working for the industry giant First Data. During his tenure at First Data he was responsible for launching & managing a number of their bank alliance. Since FDC, Joe has worked with other notable processors – TSYS, Global Payments and Chase Paymentech. Nearly 3 years ago, Joe branched out on his own; providing complete end to end business process management and secured payment technology solutions, which affords business clients the ability to securely transact payments without having sensitive data touching their environment. He can be reached by phone at 770-731-0414 or by email at joe@1steptechnologies.com.

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t seems almost a week cannot go by without some news about a retailer being breached and credit/debit card data being stolen in the process. The expected response should be who is doing this and how can I prevent it from happening? Unfortunately the more common response being seen in the market today is that I am too small, the cyber thieves will not target me.

to monetize them on the black market. Yes while it is true major retailers do provide a larger field of opportunity but those firms can sustain and survive a breach. What is not as reported is the total number of breaches that have occurred YTD with retailers and the sheer number of those are small to medium market retailers not the big box names or mall stores that are more publically known.

It is easy to follow along the train of thought, you are too small, guys like Target or Neiman Marcus are more appealing for cyber thieves to hack in and take millions of card accounts

What is less known by retailers is how does the payment card industry set the PCI Security Standards in which card payment accepting businesses need to follow? So even if the retailer wants to become more secure, what do they need to do? I am often asked this by retailers and it’s typically from a business being confused by how they need to comply! When you read through the news reports, review opinion or white papers the information on PCI, no doubt for the common the retailer it’s confusing. In simple terms, the card industry came together to form the PCI Security Standards Council (PCI-SSC) which in turn created security standards that businesses whom transact card payments need to adhere to. The standards include requirements for security management, policies, procedures, network architecture, software design and other critical protective measures. Now that is a mouthful and the intent of this article is to provide some overall definition.

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take a look at examine what happened at Target, the reports to date via the forensics firm who is auditing the breach there shows that a third party vendors system created an access point into Target’s POS network, in a nutshell a backdoor to access via! Through the IP protocols the offshore hackers were able to network and load malware onto the payment devices at the checkout lanes. So essentially when cards were swiped by customers, the malware captured the card data and it was transmitted back out of the network via IP. Now what I have said thus far could have one’s head beginning to spin if not already in full orbital rotation. My intent is not to create that feeling but rather hopefully get you to pause for a moment and take stock of your current environment! Going back to the beginning of this article, the PCI Standards are meant to create a check list of protocols basically you are supposed to follow. To take stock in how you are handling card data. I will help you in this process below. First the PCI-SSC has set four merchant classification tiers all based on the number of card transactions a merchant takes in one year. Merchant Level Description 1. Any merchant — regardless of acceptance channel — processing over 6M Visa transactions per year. Any merchant that Visa, at its sole discretion, determines should meet the Level 1 merchant requirements to minimize risk to the Visa system.

• Does your card payment device suppress card numbers on the receipts? • Do the sales clerks take the customers card, swipe and hand them back?

2. Any merchant — regardless of acceptance channel — processing 1M to 6M Visa transactions per year.

• Do you store card numbers onsite in any other manner not mentioned above?

3. Any merchant processing 20,000 to 1M Visa e-commerce transactions per year.

• If using a third party to store card numbers, how are they being stored and in what manner can you call them back up for any type of billing?

4. Any merchant processing fewer than 20,000 Visa e-commerce transactions per year, and all other merchants — regardless of acceptance channel — processing up to 1M Visa transactions per year.

• If you are using a software POS program that is integrated for payment card acceptance, are card numbers stored in that POS?

To clarify the merchant levels, e-commerce transactions means card payment transactions communicating via internet protocol (IP). For retailers who use payment devices or POS systems that dial out for authorizations (traditional land-lines) have higher transaction count under level 4 before graduating up to level 2. Since many counter top card payment devices are IP based today and Point of Sale (POS) programs are equally communicating via IP, if the card payment transmits via that method, the PCI Council deems it at the e-commerce level. Why more focus on e-commerce based transactions, while the internet is an incredible tool today and extremely effective in speed and data transmissions, viruses, malware and general intrusions happen via this communication channel. If we

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• Are you storing any card data information today? Storing means on papers, card numbers stored on a hard drive or server in your store or localized somewhere else?

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• Do you have a unique user name/password combination for your sales/counter clerks? Certainly the questions go on and actually for level 3 & 4 merchants, the PCI Council has developed what is called Self- Assessment Questionnaire (SAQ) that covers it. Every level 3 & 4 merchant is required to have the SAQ completed annually with level 3 merchants also being required to have scans run of their network. Understanding PCI is important and making sure your business adheres to the standard is a necessity. It will not guarantee against a breach but certainly makes your store more secure. You take steps to protect your inventory. SSA

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MANAGEMENT

The POWER

of

Newsletter Marketing By: Ann Arnold

Ann Arnold is an expert in manufacturing and finance. She earned her CPA working for Deloitte, and was the VP and later CEO of Lieberfarb, a US based manufacturer of wedding and engagement rings. This 27 year industry veteran is the founder and president of the Arnold Advisory Group, LLC, a comprehensive consultancy dedicated to helping clients increase their efficiency through financial modeling and analysis, time management and organizational strategies, and best business practices. To learn more, email ann@ArnoldAdviosryGroup.com.

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overlooked is the power of newsletter marketing. What is the purpose of a newsletter? A newsletter allows you to build market visibility while creating brand awareness and showing your customers that they are a valued customer. But remember, when creating your newsletter, make sure to add content that is relevant and interesting to your reader. Also, this is your opportunity to let your customers know all that you have to offer. Remember, not all

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e all can use more loyal customers, now isn't that the truth. Today, getting new customers is very challenging and one sure way to maintain and increase your business is by cultivating, engaging and keeping the ones you already have. No matter if you are a retailer or a supplier, keeping your customer's loyal is a definite key to success. With all the talk and hype about social media and marketing, the one thing that should not be

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of them may be familiar with every aspect of your business. How often should you publish a newsletter? This is really dependent on how much time and how many resources you have. Monthly newsletters should be the goal, but if you can only do them quarterly, then time them appropriately.

send a blast email out to your customers. It is helpful to pick a site that will allow you to get performance reports. These reports will show you how many people opened the email, who they are, if they clicked on any links, how many bounced emails you have and also tracks those that choose to unsubscribe (all newsletters must have the opt out option). Throughout the month, between newsletters, as you come across content you think

To whom, how and where should I distribute the newsletter? Send the newsletter to all of your current customers if you can. Depending on your budget, you can send them electronically or in a hard copy format. Some smoke shop owners even publish a newsletter in the form of their own magazine. Remember to share an electronic version of the newsletter on all of your social media pages, in your blog if you have one and to include a link to it in your email signatures. How do I start and what do I write about? There are many online tools available to help you start creating your own personalized newsletter. For instance, socialzing.com, constantcontact.com and verticalresponse.com are a few examples of online marketing sites that have templates you can use to help you create the newsletter. Use your own logo and colors to personalize the look. When creating content, remember to be relevant and interesting. Talk about current items of interest, how perhaps you are involved in your community, and don't try to sell in the newsletter, be informative! You can also use this space to showcase any upcoming events you may have planned. What is the cost and how much time will this take? This really depends on the several things. If you are going to do it yourself (or have someone on staff that you can task to do this) then really the cost would be that of the distribution. If you would like to send out the newsletter electronically, the sites referenced above have reasonable monthly rates. You can upload your email addresses and

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is relevant, save it in a folder so that you can reference back to it when you are ready to create the newsletter. Creating a newsletter is a great way to continue to build your business and relationships. Once you commit to it, make sure you do it. Inform your customers that you will be sending it out and create a calendar for yourself to remember when you should send it. Not all your customers may be aware of everything you have to offer. Newsletters are not only a great way to help maintain and build your customer base, but also a great avenue for you to bring to light new products or services that you are offering, will keep your business top of mind and will also give you a reason to actively seek out home or email addresses from customers, giving you a greater opportunity to market y o u r s e l f . S SA

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SALES

The Four Basic

Customer Types

By: Brian Barfield Brian Barfield is a trainer/senior sales consultant at The Gem Collection in Tallahassee, FL. Brian has over 17 years experience in the retail industry. He has had 9 years management experience as a store manager and spent the last 6 years as a million dollar sales associate. Brian has taken the knowledge he has obtained and has created a modern day road map for sales associates to find a greater success. Brian is a two-time published author and these concepts are based on his first book “Modern Day Selling.” To find out more information and training course guidelines you can reach him by email at brian@moderndayselling. com or via his website, www.moderndayselling.com.

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ver the years we have been trained to understand the four basic personality types. Some use animals such as lions, monkeys, giraffes and turtles; others use Dominant, Expressive, Amiable and Analytical. These training methods have been very effective in understanding your customers and teaching you how to meet their needs. However, times have changed and with it so has the world around us. What we find is that the pressures of the modern day world can often alter many of our customers’ personality types. No one ever seems to be the same at all times. Without a clear understanding of this we find ourselves failing to meet our customers’ needs by using basic personality training. It only takes one bad experience to lose a customer for life.

What the modern day sales associate needs is a new road map to find greater success. It all starts with building on the foundation that has been laid with the four personality type training. Greatness is achieved when you take what is successful and make it even better. Can you imagine using a television that is 20 years old? In its day it was state of the art, but as time changed so did technology. Now we have the modern day flat screen television with hi def and surround sound. The difference is amazing! That is exactly what I have created to help the modern day sales associate meet every customer’s needs however they arrive in your store. What I have discovered is that all customers fit into four basic customer types no matter what their personality type is. They are: Simple Minded, Demanding, Analytical and Guarded. Every customer who enters your store will fall into one of these four customer types. Learning how to sell each customer will allow you to achieve the ultimate goal of building a large and loyal customer base. Let’s examine each customer type and how to meet their needs better. Keep in mind that there is a deeper understanding of each customer type. For the sake of this article I will share with you some basics. Let’s start with the Demanding Customer. These are often the most feared by sales associates. They can range from high maintenance time consumers to pushy and confrontational. Notice the different personality types - yet both can be categorized in the demanding customer field. There are

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many ways to handle such a customer. However, there are two weapons that you can use that will work every time. Kill them with kindness and compliments. It is very hard for someone to be demanding when they are being treated well and feel respected. Another beneficial way to sell a demanding customer is to keep things simple. Make your answers precise and to the point and then move on. When the salesperson speaks, too much time is wasted and opportunities for discussion to take place are limited. Try these simple steps and you will see these customers are not to be feared as they become a lifelong customer. The next customer type we will examine is the Analytical Customer. This customer can range from a customer needing information to skilled geniuses who like to play a mental game of chess with you. The best way to sell this customer is to know your product well and sell with confidence. Any sign of weakness or uncertainty can lead to a lengthy sales process. Be sure you make good eye contact and stay focused while engaging these customers. Most importantly make sure you speak to them on whatever level they are at. You would certainly sell an educated customer much differently than an uneducated customer. Try putting yourself in their shoes. If you knew very little about cars, how would you feel going to get your car fixed? Pretty vulnerable, unless you had someone who took the time to explain in detail what exactly was going on.

Finally there is the Simple Minded Customer. This is the customer that is familiar with you and trusts you completely. Your goal with every customer you serve should be to turn them into a simple minded customer. Once you have given them excellent service and a bond of trust is created, these customers offer you little resistance. They know that you care about them with the Birthday, Anniversary and Christmas cards you send them throughout the year. They become the foundation of your success year in and year out. You no longer are just a sales associate, but are now their friend. The next time you greet a customer I challenge you to focus on these basic concepts. Make sure that every customer you sell is given the proper service to meet their needs. What you will find is a new world of success as you build your customer base with a loyalty that is unmatched. Remember that with an intense focus and desire for success, beautiful things can happen. Make sure that you take whatever is successful and build upon it with greatness. SSA

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Now we turn our attention to the Guarded Customer. This customer is the famous “I’m just looking” customer. For a

variety of reasons these customers have an invisible wall up and you must earn their trust before they will open up the gate door for you. Trying to scale their walls without permission or tricking them can be disastrous. This customer must feel that you are being 100% honest and have their best interest in mind. You do this by serving them rather than selling them. Create an obligation of trust by offering free ring cleaning or a service that is beneficial to them. It could be as simple as offering a cold beverage or coffee. You will be amazed at how quickly these customers will open up to you.

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MANAGEMENT

Let Your

Customers Decide

How Much Is Too Much

By: Harry J. Friedman Harry J. Friedman is an internationally acclaimed retail consultant, trainer, author and speaker, and Founder/CEO of The Friedman Group. He has been featured on CBS News, FOX News, the Wall St. Journal and has worked with many of retail’s iconic brands. Since 1980, his retail sales and management techniques have been used by nearly one million retailers worldwide. For information on upcoming retail seminars, training programs, on-site training, eLearning and online training portals, call 800-351-8040, email info@TheFriedmanGroup.com or visit www.TheFriedmanGroup.com.

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ou’ve established a rapport with your customer, you’ve asked plenty of good probing questions and now it’s time for a demonstration. It’s time to show the customer merchandise that is most likely to satisfy their wants and needs. So which items do you show when you have a vast selection from which to choose? Let’s say there’s been no conversation about price. You were able to get a pretty good idea of what the customer was looking for, but they didn’t say they were on a tight budget—and they didn’t say they weren’t. Do you go for items in the moderate price category? Or do you treat them to a taste of la créme de la créme? For some reason, many salespeople hesitate to show their best merchandise. Perhaps they feel it’s too bold or too forward to show merchandise that is well above average in terms of price and/or quality. Some salespeople wait for a signal as subtle as a fire alarm to alert them to the fact that they’re assisting a customer who will settle for nothing less than top-of-the-line goods. As salespeople, we are absolutely responsible for assessing the customer’s needs and helping them to find the merchandise that perfectly suits them. We are not responsible for deciding whether they will buy our good merchandise or our best merchandise. That’s up to the customer! Show the good stuff! Demonstrating your better or best merchandise always makes sense. One who insists upon buying only the best will appreciate your perceptiveness, and one who hasn’t been introduced to the finer things may enjoy the experience. They may learn something that causes them to value better merchandise and have something to aspire to— or something great to treat themselves to right away. Who knows? There’s only one way to find out: give all of your customers the pleasure of taking a closer look at the best merchandise you have to offer.

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Sometimes salespeople feel uncomfortable showing or suggesting merchandise that they themselves find extravagant or expensive. If you feel like you’re handling the golden pipe when you show certain items, present them as if they are golden pipes! Use your sense of awe to convey enthusiasm and respect for the features that make the merchandise special. And if the customer asks about price, quote the price as if it’s a wonderful feature, not a drawback. Never apologize for prices! Remember, some customers won’t blink at prices that make you shudder, while others will gasp at prices that you think are very low. Whatever the case, don’t let your opinion get in the way of making a great sale. Let’s have some fun! Another great technique for showing your customers your finest merchandise is the “let’s have some fun” technique. When it’s time to begin showing merchandise, say to your customer “Based on what you’ve told me, I have a few things to show you that I think you’ll really like, and there’s one thing that I especially want you to see. Would you like to have some fun?” Proceed to tell them that this particular item is the best of the best and that you couldn’t imagine passing up the opportunity to let them take a look—even if it’s just for fun. This is a very safe, non-threatening way to give your customers a chance to see—and perhaps own— your most valuable merchandise. Finally, always keep in mind that some customers enjoy spending a lot of money! They like the fact that they can buy things that the average person can’t afford on a whim. The very fact that they can buy whatever they want actually makes higher-priced merchandise more appealing to them. So remember, THINK BIG! Don’t deny your customers the pleasure of admiring or owning very fine things, and don’t deny yourself the rewards of selling the best. SSA www.smokeshopadvisor.com


MARKETING

GREAT MARKETING

STARTS INSIDE

YOUR DOOR

By: Jimmy DeGroot

Jimmy DeGroot has been a retail store manager for over a decade and his passions were marketing and training retail sales professionals. He’s succeeded at both of these by tripling store sales volumes with almost zero turnover in staff and great marketing techniques, He has now taken those passions to across the country with his charismatic influence by offering marketing consulting in stores and video training retailers everywhere. He can be reached at 920-492-1191.

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s a marketing and training guy, one of the first questions I get asked is, “How do I get more customers through my doors?” I always reply with 3 questions: 1. Why are people coming through your doors now? 2. Why are people NOT coming through your doors? 3. If I got them in your door, could you sell them something? Those questions are extremely telling, as well as difficult for the smoke shop owners to answer, because they're looking at their business from the inside, not from the customer’s perspective. This is why it can be very important to hire a consultant from time to time, to help you look at your business from the outside rather than from the inside. The truth is that most smoke shop owners have truly wonderful reasons why people become customers, but usually it is not for the reasons that they think. You can find the answers by asking the question, "what do you do different or better than the jeweler down the street?" If you're thinking quality or service or value, I'm going to challenge you to dig much, much deeper and ask yourself those. Sometimes there are deep-seated issues that involve staffing, management, owners and a general dissatisfaction in how the store is being run that can cause customers to NOT want to come through your door. Sometimes employees or managers are angry because new glass hasn’t been ordered in years. These types of issues can all contribute to a poor inside culture, which is a recipe for failure. You can have the greatest marketing plan and ways to bring customers through

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the door, but if your “house” isn't in order with a well trained, well disciplined team, then your customers will experience a disconnect from your marketing. The result is that they won’t buy anything at all, or ever again. Then they’ll tell their friends about their experience and the effects will ripple. That can be a hard hole to dig yourself out of, so make sure that you take preventative measures to ensure a healthy store culture. Great marketing starts from the inside. In fact, the better you are able to do this, the less money you have to spend on advertising because your customers will do most of the work for you! I love it when owners tell me "Jimmy, if you get 'em through the door, they'll fall in love with us". This means that their house is in order and they're ready for more guests. This is when I get excited. Getting your house in order means that you need to train your staff regularly. This means training on your desired culture, your beliefs, plans and dreams, as well as training on all aspects of the business, from greeting the customer, to dress, to diamonds, to objections, to security. Train them on everything that you want your store to be! You need to discipline your leadership to hold regular daily or weekly meetings. I know it takes time and planning, but it has to happen in order to have a growing business. Great store meetings do wonders for your staff. They build teamwork and increase professionalism and best of all, closing ratios. Talk with the best, most profitable jewelers out there and they'll tell you they have regular store meetings that encourage teamwork among their staff. So in a nutshell, great marketing starts right inside your smoke shop with your own individual store culture. Customers should be able to feel it, smell it and taste it when they come inside your store. If you can get this part of your operations right, people will say to themselves immediately when they walk in your door, "I'm buying my grinder here!" And you will have a satified customer! SSA

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COMPANY NAME HERE

COMPANY SPOTLIGHT COMPANY SPOTLIGHT

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STREET CITY, ST, ZIP Phone: XXX.XXX.XXXX Fax: XXX.XXX.XXXX Website: www.XXXXXX.com Email: info@XXXXXXXXXXXXX.com

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SAMPLE DIGITAL ISSUE 2014

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Full Page Ad

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www.vardicompany.com

866.665.6502

The Industry's Premier Equal Opportunity Buying Group. Learn how Vardi Company has redefined the traditonal buying group format and created some of the most innovative services offered in the industry today.

NO FEES. NO MINIMUMS. NO RESTRICTIONS. A BUYING GROUP FOR EVERYONE. BY MATTHEW BALL - ASSOCIATE EDITOR SMOKE SHOP ADVISOR MAGAZINE In today’s tough economy, business owners are facing buying group to eliminate the issues that prevent retailers more challenges than ever. It is increasingly important to from being able to enjoy the advantages a buying group has keep your costs down, use your time efficiently and make to offer. Their online buying group utilizes state of the art sure that you always provide exemplary service. Every technology that groups orders from retailers all over the dollar, minute and customer truly matters to your bottom world in real-time. With no fees, minimums or restrictions line. Brothers Steven and Michael Vardi grew up in the whatsoever there is nothing to lose! jewelry industry; their family has deep roots in the trade and have been successfully serving the industry for over three We are a real buying group with real buying power™. That generations. Over the years, Steven and Michael observed is the simple idea behind Vardi Company’s unique structure. the struggles of their retail customers and felt for them. They offer sharp pricing, giving independents the power to They wanted to help them in making their businesses more grow sales and profits in today's challenging marketplace. profitable and the industry more successful as a whole. It was these Consumer research has proven observations that led the brothers that shoppers want and expect We do a lot of custom work and they’re to develop Vardi Company in to see something new every 2009, as a full service provider time they come in your store. my go-to guys for anything I need done on and partner to independent Because of this, Vardi Company time. They listen to what I have to do and retailers. Vardi Company offers uses their online format to keep walk me right through it...and because a 100% free equal opportunity their retail partners continually buying group, and several other updated with a stream of new of the variety, I don’t have to deal with innovative solutions, all designed items to choose from. Whether twenty different vendors! to make retailers’ lives easier and you are looking for fashion their businesses more successful. forward price point sterling - Marc Tanjeloff, Astro Gallery of Gems silver jewelry, classic gold and New York, NY A BUYING GROUP FOR EVERYONE diamond fashion pieces, or simply a pair of diamond studs, In such a product driven industry, you can find it all in one place inventory costs can really start to add up. The economy with the convenience of online shopping, making your life just isn’t what it used to be and you need to lower your just a little bit easier. expenses. The solution seems simple. Join a buying group. Bundle your orders with other retailers to lower the cost A CUSTOM JEWELRY SOLUTION of your goods. Sounds great, right? But, as many of you know, it’s not that easy. Membership fees, buying minimums After launching the buying group, Steven and Michael and credit checks can suddenly stand between you and the wanted to continue to use their resources to create other chance to stay competitive. programs that would meet the needs of their retail partners. Vardi Company designed their online, equal opportunity

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Knowing that 35% of engagement rings are custom made, they decided to launch the Vardi Concierge, a fast and easy one-stop-shop for all your custom design needs and special requests. Once they receive your customer’s concept, they generate a life-like CAD rendering in 1 to 5 business days. Upon design approval, they will manufacture the piece in your choice of metal and diamond quality or with any gemstone, and deliver the finished piece in approximately 2 weeks.

Key retail catalog in a single click! Vardi Company seems to have mastered the art of helping you increase profits without increasing expenses.

STAR OF THE SHOWROOM

Last, but definitely not least, is the BrideStar System, developed to support your increasingly important bridal sales. With the high cost and risks of carrying bridal jewelry inventory, this program enables you to offer a wide assortment at a much lower cost. “My business is not just The BrideStar is an upscale bridal about satisfying my members, prototype selling system offering but making sure that their over 70+ sterling silver and CZ Since joining Vardi, running my business customers are satisfied as prototypes with a professional well. The Vardi Concierge was has become easier. They’re always there quality display. This allows your created to offer retailers a bridal customer to see and feel when I need them and willing to go the custom design resource that the different designs, to gain extra mile for me. is full service and convenient, confidence before customizing saving them the time, money, and ordering their desired ring. and frustration of coordinating - Justin G., Norfolk, VA In addition, you can show your multiple vendors. This also customer their expanded bridal allows for faster turnaround collection of over 5,000 SKUs on time, less involvement and their website, all at triple key! most importantly, lower costs, ultimately making your customer that much more satisfied,” explains Steven. From eliminating all costs and restrictions traditionally associated with buying groups, to their innovative services, FULFILLING EXPECTATIONS Vardi Company is determined to be more than just another vendor; they aim to be your partner and to help you reach The Vardi brothers’ dedication to customer service led them a new level of success. Besides enhancing your product to identify another way to serve retailers’ needs. Noticing that selection, reducing your costs and offering services to make many customers expressed dissatisfaction in their diamond the running of your business as convenient as possible, sourcing, they decided to offer a Diamond Fulfillment Vardi Company exhibits the most important qualities that you Service, an easy and effortless way to make sure you get could want in a partner: commitment to service, commitment the exact diamond that you’re looking for. This service to quality, and commitment to you, their member. eliminates the frustration involved in wasting time calling multiple vendors, setting up new accounts, or receiving To learn more about Vardi Company’s current, or soon-tounpresentable stones. For certified, uncertified, or melee be-released, services and how they can help you achieve service, you can simply call them with your specifications more success now or in the future, visit their website, www. and their diamond experts will handle everything. vardicompany.com. Becoming a member through their website is simple, but you can also speak with a Vardi FINDING A BETTER WAY Company representative by calling 866-665-6502 or 212-221-3969 (International) or emailing them at info@ With your needs in mind, Vardi Company developed free vardicompany.com. You can sign up for their newsletter Diamond Finder technology that allows members to search by email, or by scanning the QR code below. their entire inventory of over 50,000 certified diamonds in three different modes of operation! You can either search directly on their website for wholesale prices or activate Showroom Mode, which allows you to convert their Click the QR Codes below to: inventory listings to display your custom margins. You can then show your customers directly on your computer or Join Newsletter Join Vardi Co. iPad allowing them to search all the options with accurate prices. The diamonds selected are delivered to your store so your customers can view them before purchasing. You can also embed Vardi’s Diamond Finder into your own website to attract new customers to your store! Soon to launch is Showroom Mode for www.vardicompany. com, which will convert their wholesale website into a Triple

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COMPANY NAME HERE

COMPANY SPOTLIGHT COMPANY SPOTLIGHT

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STREET CITY, ST, ZIP Phone: XXX.XXX.XXXX Fax: XXX.XXX.XXXX Website: www.XXXXXX.com Email: info@XXXXXXXXXXXXX.com

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Creating an Identity

MARKETING

and Promoting It By: Bob Demaria

Bob DeMaria has 45 years of experience in sales, sales management and marketing as an inside and outside sales representative, sales manager for 4 different companies and owner of several businesses. He can be reached at 800-874-8768, ext. 110 or by email at bdemaria@rdidiamonds.com.

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ho are you? Or maybe better still, what is your business all about? Whether you're a retailer, wholesaler, or an individual salesperson; there's a characteristic that is guaranteed to make a difference in your level of success. That is consistency.

No matter where you’re from I’m sure you can name a retailer in your area that projects an image that is contrary to what you would enjoy as a shopping experience. Whether it’s the obnoxious car dealer or the crazy mattress storeowner, if the image they pose is not what you find

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In a retail establishment, it’s continually conveying the same message. It's your advertising, decor, dress code of the sales staff and how customers are greeted as well as the way they are qualified. Consistency can create quality, although it means little if it is not based on best practices. It is essential that you periodically take an objective assessment of your entire business. You need to know what you do well and what you need to improve on.

Equally important is making sure that you and your staff projects a high level of competency to your customers. This level of competency should be in line with the image of the store. The goal is to deliver a great and memorable experience to every person that walks in your door. We want to ensure that they tell their families and friends that your store is the place to go when they need smoking accessories. No unpleasant experience or surprises.

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Try this experiment. Ask an average person on the street what their impression is when someone says your store’s name. Now ask individual staff members what they think the public would say? Is that the same thing you would say? If not, why? Review your advertising. Does the message project the image you’re trying to achieve? What about your product mix? Is the location within the store for your key categories prominent? How about your staff? Are they dressed appropriately? Do they all greet customers in the same way? Is it based on best practices? How about the way they qualify a customer? Is it thorough? Do they ask questions or do they do all the talking? How about their language skills? Are they appropriate for your clientele? I have seen many instances where the owner had his own impression. After an hour of observation it was obvious that what he believed and what was actually happening were two different things.

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acceptable you’re not likely to shop there. On the other hand, if the advertising is too “high end” for your lifestyle it may not attract your interest either.

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Make sure that your focus is based on facts not what you assume is correct. Keep in mind that changes deemed necessary should be addressed one at a time and perfected before tackling the next one. Those involving staff can be challenging. However, if the results benefit both the employees and management progress can be made. Most of us are familiar with the 80-20 rule. 80% of our business comes from 20% of our customers. These are customers that have found you, like they way you do business and reward you by buying time and again. I think it’s fair to say that no one in sales is ever satisfied with their level of sales. If you want to grow your business you need to attract new customers or convert more of your occasional customers to frequent buyers. Customers become frequent buyers when the experience they receive is above expectation every time they enter your store. To exceed expectations you must go beyond the ordinary. SSA

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To be successful, it’s important to identify your target market and do everything within your means to attract and maintain their interest consistently. Not everyone can attract the luxury customer. Nor can everyone attract the small budget customer. Be great at what you do and build a clientele that loves you for it. That also goes for adding or deleting product lines. Ask yourself ‘Will this product bring me additional business from my existing customer base or does it merely replace business that I’m already getting?’ Replacing business is acceptable if it’s at a higher margin. It’s not acceptable if it just adds overhead. New lines that can potentially attract new customers can be a good idea as long as you have the budget to effectively advertise the new products. If not, think twice before you replace your current advertising and potentially lose normal sales? Also ask yourself if it fits with your business model? Can my staff sell it? Do I have a good place for it? If you find incongruity, you need to take a hard look at each facet of your business in terms of the overall concept of your store.

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TECHNOLOGY

GETTING your Smoke Shop

in TECH SHAPE By: Jeffrey Arnold Jeffrey Arnold is the President of 4Spot Marketing, and has been involved with Internet marketing for the past ten years. He combines 25+ years of business management experience with his expert knowledge of search engine optimization and Internet marketing techniques to provide companies with comprehensive Internet marketing services. His success is evidenced by his clients’ top Google rankings time and time again. Mr. Arnold can be reached at (702) 721-9763, via email at Jeff@4SpotMarketing.com, or via his website at www.4SpotMarketing.com.

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s we head into the New Year, people start to make their New Year’s resolutions. Quite often the number one item on the list is to ‘get in shape’. This year, you can be sure to achieve this goal if you vow to get into ‘tech shape’. Here are three free software programs that can help you keep your computer running at its best. CCleaner I have been using CCleaner for years and thought that is was just a great little find (that I learned from one of my former tech guys). Recently, however, I realized how ‘mainstream’ and well respected this program really is. I had to call Google tech support and, as they were walking me through the resolution to my issue, they told me to download CCleaner and run its’ registry cleaner. (I have to admit, I was pretty impressed that my ‘secret’ little program was being used by Google!) CCleaner has several features that I use on a regular basis: • Cleaner • Registry • Tools Cleaner The Cleaner section of the program allows you to clean out all of the accumulated ‘stuff’ that is hidden in the backend of your system. In my tech tip “Get More Cache for the Holidays” I outlined how you can clean out your Internet browser’s cache to speed up your system. CCleaner does this automatically (for all of your browsers at once), as well as cleaning out all of the accumulated ‘cache’ (temporary system files) that accumulate on your computer’s hard drive. To use the Cleaner tool, just open CCleaner and click either

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‘Analyze’ or ‘Run Cleaner’. By analyzing your system, you can review what files will be deleted when Cleaner runs before you actually delete them. If you just click ‘Run Cleaner’ the software will run and delete the files before you review. I would advise running the analysis the first few times you run the software, just to see if there is anything that is scheduled for deletion that you don’t want deleted. After that, you can simply click ‘Run Cleaner’ to quickly clean out your computer. I have a few recommendations on the default settings. By default, running Cleaner will delete your Recycle bin. I like to keep my files in the Recycle bin for a while, so I unchecked that as a default. Also, under the Windows Explorer options, “Jump Task Lists” is automatically checked. I uncheck this as well. The Jump Task Lists are the quick shortcuts that you can create from your main navigation bar in Windows. If you use them, clearing them out is frustrating. If you don’t know what they are, just disregard. Your first run should take just a few minutes. Registry The Registry section helps you keep the core operating systems of Windows running well by eliminating items that you no longer need. Any time that you install software a registry entry is created. By installing and deleting software we leave behind registry entries that are old and can clog up the system. The registry cleans out unwanted items and keeps the registry fresh (this is the section that Google had me use). BE SURE that when you are given the option to back up your registry that you do it. It saves a file to your ‘My Documents’ folder that you can use to restore the registry if something causes operational issues (in over a dozen years I’ve never had an issue, but the one time that you don’t back up …). I run this quite often and usually get 20-40 items showing up. If you are running this software for the first time, you may get www.smokeshopadvisor.com


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100+. Don’t let that alarm you. Run the registry section over and over until you get ‘no errors’ (typically it only takes two runs, but I’ve had it take as many as four). After the initial run, it only takes a few seconds, so it’s not very time consuming. Tools If you need to uninstall software, you can go into the Tools section and select the item you want to uninstall. This will uninstall all items (including registry items) for the software. It is easier than trying to navigate through the Control Panel of Windows. You can download CCleaner here (http://4spotmarketing. com/piriform). Defraggler Defraggler is another piece of software by the same company that created CCleaner. It is an alternative to your default Windows Defragmenter. This program will ‘defrag’ your computer, which simply means that it will arrange the data on your hard drive in a logical manner so that your computer doesn’t have to work as hard to get the data it wants. Think of your data as individual seats in an auditorium (signified by blocks below). When you save anything (software programs, emails, word processing files, pictures, etc.) it puts the data into a seat or multiple seats. It fills up the seats in a nice orderly fashion. However, when you delete a file, email, photo, etc. it leaves an empty seat in the auditorium, and they aren’t necessarily next to one another. The next time you save a file (let’s say it’s a 10 seat file), it will save part of the file in the first empty seat, the next part in another empty seat six rows away, the next part in another seat 25 rows away, etc. This means that your data is being scattered all across your hard drive and each time you try to retrieve that file, your computer needs to search all over for the data. Replicate this process for thousands of files, emails, etc. that you save and delete and you can see how scattered your data can become and how much work your computer has to do to access your files. When you defragment, you aren’t deleting anything in your system; you are simply rearranging the data in your computer. That way the computer just has to go to seats 1, 2, 3, etc. to get the data for a file, making the data retrieval process much faster (which in turn makes the computer run much faster for you). I typically defrag at night and select “Shutdown after Defrag” so that my computer will be fresh in the morning! You can download Defraggler here (http://4spotmarketing. com/piriform). Duplicate Cleaner Free This is a great little gem that I just found this month. As you may imagine, I save everything to my computer. All of our family photos are on our home server, and backed up on

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multiple hard drives. Throughout the years, I have honestly forgotten which drive had the ‘original’ files, so I was afraid to try to remove the duplicates for fear of deleting something original. When working with photos and videos, I would have the original data file (e.g. IMG001.jpg) along with the renamed version (e.g. Disney-trip-1.jpg). This created dozens of gigabytes of duplicate files. With Duplicate Cleaner Free, you run this software against the files in your system to identify the duplicate files. It not only looks at the file types and sizes, but looks at the more detailed META data that sits inside photos to identify them as duplicates or originals. I found it to be extremely accurate. After you run the software to identify the duplicates, you can either select the individual files one at a time to delete, or you can use a great feature called “Mark – All but one in each group”. With this feature, you can automatically select only one of each of the duplicate files across the board, so you can clean all duplicates with just one mouse click. Since you are working on deleting items when working with Duplicate Cleaner Free, I would advise allocating enough time to review your duplicate files thoroughly – especially when working with original photos, etc. You don’t want to accidentally delete anything important. You can download Duplicate Cleaner Free (http://4spotmarketing.com/duplicate-cleaner).

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Best Usage Suggestions If you are planning to run the ‘trilogy’ to clean up your computer, I would recommend running them in this order: • Duplicate Cleaner Free - this cleans up the duplicate content on your system • CCleaner – run the Cleaner section (to delete all the old cache and temporary files in your system) • CCleaner – run the Registry section several times (until you get a ‘no errors’ result) to clean up all the registry items in your system • Defraggler – Once you’ve cleaned out all the excess stuff on your hard drive, this will put it all in a nice, organized order so that your system can access it faster. Then, on a weekly basis, run the CCleaner system (both Cleaner and Registry – it only takes about 3 minutes), and then Defraggler on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. You only need to run the Duplicate Cleaner Free periodically if you think you are creating a lot of duplicate content. So, this year, you don’t need to run on the treadmill to get in shape, just ‘run’ these programs and you’ll be in the best ‘tech shape’ of your life. SSA

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Rediscovering the Power of

MARKETING

Direct Mail Advertising By: Bob Epstein

Bob Epstein is CEO of Silverman Consultants, LLC. Offering a legacy in sales strategies for retailers since 1945, Silverman Consultants provides guidance to store owners seeking to turn around a business, sell off unwanted inventory, or liquidate an entire store. With offices located in Charleston, South Carolina; New York, New York; and Saskatoon, Canada; the company helps retail store owners and chains formulate strategies designed to maximize revenue in times of transition, whether due to retirement, store closing, or simply when needing a boost in sales. For more information, visit www.silvermanconsultants. com or call Bob direct at 1-800-347-1500.

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hanks to the internet, the advent of paperless billing, electronic bank statements, and on-line catalogs, commercial mail volumes have dropped over 50% in the last ten years. There is no longer the huge clutter at the mail box--and that's good news for local retailers who are re-discovering the effectiveness of direct mail advertising. Less mail means that your postcard or letter is more likely to be read, so response rates to direct mail advertising are trending upward. Maybe it's time to think again about this proven advertising method.

There are many sources for consumer mailing lists. Many are so called "compiled" lists are generated from names and addresses found in phone books and other public sources of information. These compiled lists are overlaid with demographic census information that give a general indication with regard to age, income, presence of children, home value, zip code, etc. The problem with these lists is that they are general and not specific. So where do you find that magic list?

Sales and marketing database: Customer For many retailers, even high-end stores, information stored on your computer For many direct mail is attractive because its system or your OutlookTM database positive effect can be measured is a good starting point. Many retailers, direct mail directly and quickly. It has a point of sale systems used today is attractive because tremendous potential to reach a have the ability to transfer very specific and select audience. customer information into your its positive effect can be database Further, direct mail is a great way every time you run a measured directly and credit card. to stay in touch with your current customers and keep them up-to-date quickly. on special offers or announcements. Partner with someone who has a noncompeting product: Your competitors are Many retailers spend a lot of time and money unlikely to share their list with you; however in the production of the mail piece and the mailing. Yet, another local retailer may agree to share or exchange their it’s important to realize that while you may have the most list with you. If they sell a similar product with a similar creative mail piece, the success of any mailing begins with customer base, that may be even more advantageous. the right mailing list and target audience. Many direct Exchange your list with other retailers then remove the marketers use what is called the “40/40/20 Rule�, which duplicates on the master list. Your local "letter shop" or mail claims 40 percent of the success of your direct marketing house can run a program that will remove duplicates and campaign is dependent upon the audience, 40 percent on verify and update the address information to make sure the the offer, and 20 percent on the copy and creative format records are current. of the mailing. Since 40 percent of the success of your campaign is dependent upon the audience, it is imperative Current customer recommendations: Offer an incentive to that you have the best mailing list possible. your current customers to recommend friends and relatives.

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Your employees: Everyone in your company is a potential source of prospect names. Once you have exhausted all other sources to develop your list, you may want to research compiled mailing lists. Match the demographics of your own customers with that of the list you rent. You might want to do your own customer survey and try to develop your own customer profile---what is your typical price point? What's the average customer age? Are they married? Do they have children? What percentage are male/female, etc.

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There also are list companies that buy lists from catalog companies. This may offer a better list than a "compiled" list because you will be renting names that have purchased from the catalogs, and therefore you already know that they are responsive to that type of advertising. There have been studies that say 50 percent of families will not be motivated to buy anything by mail If that is the case, renting a catalog list already eliminates those that are not responsive to direct mail marketing.

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Once you’ve exhausted all of the sources to build your mailing list, you need to continually test and track it. Put together a mailing plan for the year and create mailing campaigns in advance of the traditional Christmas buying season. Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, spring weddings, graduations are just a few of themes around which you can build a marketing campaign. Remember, your goal is to create a new customer, not just make one sale. To accomplish this, you need to have a database so that you can track the number of sales made to each customer and monitor this regularly.

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When purchasing any "outside" list, make sure you ask the list broker for an accuracy guarantee. The list should also be cross referenced with the National Change of Address (NCOA) database, ensuring that the list is current, complete and accurate.

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Another possibility is to purchase a list based upon change of lifestyle. Lists are available for new movers, giving you the names of families that have recently moved into your area. Recent engagements and bridal registries are also excellent sources. Community newspapers also may rent their subscribers list to you.

With the right mailing list and customer database you’re on your way to direct mail victory. But just because you start to see that your prospect list is paying off, don’t stop there. Continue to build and refine your mailing list. It should be an ongoing project and part of your strategic business plan. When you use your mailing list properly, and integrate it wisely into your overall marketing plan, it has the potential to become a powerful marketing tool. SSA

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Five Things Every

SALES

Retail Salesperson

Should Do Each Morning By: Bob DeMaria

Bob DeMaria has 45 years of experience in sales, sales management and marketing as an inside and outside sales representative, sales manager for 4 different companies and owner of several businesses. He can be reached at 800-874-8768, ext. 110 or by email at bdemaria@rdidiamonds.com.

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uccess doesn’t happen by accident, at least in the long term. We can all point to periods in our life where everything just clicks. For the highest and most consistent performers, nothing is left to chance. That requires planning. Mental, physical and emotional preparedness can lead to excellent results. The following steps are in not in a firm order. 1. Get It Scheduled — The first part of the first step is reviewing any unfinished business. For example: You dealt with a customer that wanted to look at something you needed to order in. Items were ordered and an appointment

was scheduled. Today, you need to confirm the shipment and the appointment. I’m a big believer in “things to do” lists. Creating that list is the second part of this step. I like to lead off with small tasks that can be finished quickly like returning a call, or preparing an item for presentation. The idea is to start getting things checked off to create momentum. Distractions from the most fundamental purpose of your position, (sales), are killers. Devoting partial attention is the same as paying no attention. It

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can knock you off your game. Organization is absolutely essential. This task should be accomplished before you are open for business. With that said, even if time constraints make it difficult, don’t ever let anything take your focus off a live customer, whether in your store or on the phone. 2. Positive Energy — The second step is getting yourself positively energized. Your state of mind will dictate what happens for the rest of the day. We broadcast how we feel to everyone we come in contact with. When we’re “up”, we influence others to feel up. Unfortunately the contrary is true as well. Today is a new day and all things are possible. How do you get positively energized? It starts with you! When you are positive and upbeat with your co-workers, they’ll be with you. See the best in others and inspire them with your words and actions. You are like a tuning fork. The vibration you emit is what you attract. Whatever issues are bothering you, get rid of them any way you can. Avoid co-workers that are negative. Fix what can be fixed and accept the things you can’t change. 3. Set Goals — The third step is having a goal that is commensurate with the goals of management. You always want to make sure that everybody is on the same page. All of us are members of a team with different responsibilities. We’re all working toward the same end. Don’t be afraid to use what is available to you to achieve your personal goals and the company’s goals as well. By that I mean: utilize the support staff and tools that your company provides you with to promote everyone’s common interest. Your goals should be attainable with effort, and set by you. Impossible goals are frustrating and are quickly abandoned. Easy goals don’t challenge us to grow. Goals should be designed to stretch us in a variety of ways both in quality and quantity. Goals that only drive us to work harder, fall short when they don’t inspire us to work smarter. Take for example a basic metric of making more contacts with potential customers in order to grow your business. If all other metrics stay the same, you should see a proportionate gain in business. However, things may be different if you were to incorporate an improvement in the quality of the contact. It could be something as easy as making sure that you are physically putting an item of your product in every contact’s hand. You will see a better rate of growth with a better method. Therefore, you should have multiple goals and goals within goals. For example: your annual goals should be broken down by months, weeks, days. Sometimes it‘s even advantageous to break them down by the hour. There’s an old adage: How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Choose your goals wisely, one bite at a time, and you will benefit in multiple ways. 4. Focus — The fourth step is getting focused. I differentiate focus from organization. Constructing a plan is different than mentally preparing for it. Focus requires belief in yourself and holding yourself personally responsible for whatever happens today. There are no excuses. Focus can be best understood as knowing what needs to be done and the realization that it’s well within your means to make it happen. Focus can help you eliminate things that distract you from your primary mission. It helps with putting things www.smokeshopadvisor.com

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into perspective. For example: you are in the middle of a troubling task that requires your full attention. Suddenly, a potential customer walks in the door. Do you stop what you’re doing to take care of a customer, or do you continue with the task? The best answer is that you never make a potential customer feel like they are less important than anything else. If you can do that without stopping what you’re doing, then great. If you can’t, stop and greet your customer. We have all had the experience of walking into a store and having to wait for a store employee to free themselves up from some “busy” work. Of course, this is before they can be bothered to help you. Personally I do not buy from that store, nor do I ever go back. Recently, in a conversation with one of my customers, she informed me about a similar situation she had many years ago. She was treated poorly in a well- known local store that is noted for its great customer service. She still held a grudge and has not been in the store since. Even though she knows her experience was the exception to the rule, she still refuses to shop there. When you’re in sales, customers are your lifeline, and as such, deserving of your full attention. 5. Execution — The fifth step is a commitment to executing the plan. Around here, we call it “million dollar execution.” The best laid plans mean nothing without an “all in” execution. That means making sure every moment counts. No wasted time, no wasted effort. If it requires thinking outside the box with a more creative approach, then so be it. Growth comes from expanding our comfort zone, not hiding in it. Nothing is more satisfying than trying out something new and experiencing the benefits. Your comfort zone has just been expanded like inflating a toy balloon. To get the most out of million dollar execution, it needs to be repeated it over and over again. I used the word “commitment” because it implies more than just sticking your toe in the water. It means not bailing out when things get difficult. It means choosing to work through any obstacles and not making excuses. This concept is what separates the successful from the most successful. Some of the world’s greatest inventors died penniless because, while brilliant, they lacked the ability to bring their inventions to market. In our business, success is measured in sales. Having a plan and then executing that plan will lead to more sales. Even professional golfers hit bucket after bucket of practice balls before they get out on the course... even for a practice round! Success comes from commitment, planning, and repetition. The prerequisites for this to work is your attitude and beliefs. Everything is in your hands. With proper effort, you will determine your success. In summary, get necessary things scheduled, get pumped up, know what needs to be done, remove the obstacles and make it happen! Don’t make excuses. SSA

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SALES

Creating the

Ideal Retail Store By: Harry J. Friedman Harry J. Friedman is an internationally acclaimed retail consultant and Founder/CEO of The Friedman Group. Since 1980, his retail sales and management techniques have been used by nearly one million retailers worldwide. For information on upcoming free retail webinars, seminars, training programs, on-site training or eLearning, call 800-351-8040, email info@TheFriedmanGroup. com or visit www.TheFriedmanGroup.com.

I

n major retail department stores today, the average effective selling time of a full-time employee is approximately eight hours per week. The entire system is far from ideal, and not conducive to selling. Many smaller scale retail stores are now coming dangerously close to department stores in this area.

a buying atmosphere that people feel comfortable in, and to make it possible for them to select the merchandise they want without assistance. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule, such as the security of high-ticket merchandise such as e-cigs and vaporizers, but an inviting and easy-tobuy-from store is the goal.

Most owners and managers are aware of the problem but are too busy putting out fires to do much about it. They are constantly reacting to each day's new dilemma.

Have you ever been in a toy store where you couldn't reach the toys, and you couldn't find anyone to help you either? What about electronics stores where electronic toys and keyboards aren’t plugged in so you can’t try them? Or how about this one, a women's apparel store where you need a salesperson to unlock the dressing room to try clothing on, only there are no salespeople in sight? Aaaaaaah!

There are two basic types of people in this world: those who are causing things to happen, and those who are at the effect of what is happening. Unfortunately, many retail owners and managers fall into the second category. Instead of running their stores, their stores are running them. How do you stop all of this nonsense and gain more control? How do you begin taking steps to increase productivity and profit, and develop the ideal store? First of all, you need to know what it is you are trying to achieve. Then, determine what is keeping you from achieving it, and make a commitment to correct or overcome those obstacles. So, what is the ideal store? The ideal store is a retail store with a fully trained staff who are free and clear to sell and held accountable for sales performance based on objective measures. Why are there so few stores that fit this description? What stops a store from becoming ideal? Let's examine some of the biggest barriers to a store's success. Barrier #1: The store is not in perfect order to do business by itself. You probably realize that fixtures, merchandise, displays, and decor are there for a very specific purpose: to create

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In a sense, the store should be able to sell the merchandise all on its own. Ideally, you should be striving to set up the store as a perfect self-service store. If this can be accomplished, the salespeople helping to sell the merchandise are icing on the cake. Barrier #2: The staff is not fully trained to accomplish the goal of turning shoppers into buyers. People will avoid doing things that they don't feel they will be able to do well. This includes things like selling, taking returns or merchandising a new display. Training gives salespeople the information they need to do a good job and eliminates salespeople avoiding things that they don't know how to do. In addition, many stores do not have clearly defined job descriptions for every position, which makes effective training difficult, if not impossible. Specific behaviors for performing every job should be clearly detailed so there is no chance of misunderstanding how you want tasks done. For example, buyers order merchandise but don’t convey the quantities ordered, expected delivery dates to the stores or information regarding the features and benefits of the www.smokeshopadvisor.com


goods. Salespeople then don’t know what is coming or when it will arrive, yet they’re expected to drop everything to get the new merchandise up on the shelves when it does show up. Even though they aren’t given any product knowledge training on the new merchandise and don’t know much about its selling features and benefits, they’re expected to quickly sell it to their customers. Neither the buyers nor the salespeople are contributing to your success in this situation because of improper training. This lack of training has a tremendous effect on the operation of the store. The job descriptions for each person in your organization, from the president to the salespeople on the floor, must be clearly defined. If they are not, lines will continually cross and it will prevent people from doing their jobs. Another common mistake made by growing retailers is adding more forms to accommodate the extra information and paperwork generated, when simply revising the current forms would prevent unnecessary paper and confusion. Soon, the actual system for getting a particular task done is taking more time, more paper and more people than necessary. You have to sit down and take a close look at the efficiency of your operational systems. Ask yourself if there could be a better way to do it and make those changes. Barrier #3: The staff is not free and clear to sell because the manager bases accountability on completion of tasks and conveys mixed messages to the staff. Nothing is worse than a manager reprimanding a salesperson for incomplete paperwork before finding out that the tasks were not finished due to a large number of customers in the store. It should never happen, but it happens all the time. Owners can be the biggest offenders. They walk in to visit a store, and the carpet is dirty or the whole store seems to be messy. They come down on the manager for it. The manager now becomes more obsessed with making sure the store is clean (for when the owner comes back) than taking care of the customers. Now, when the manager walks in the door, instead of asking the salespeople how much has been sold for the day so far, he yells at them for a dirty store. As a result, the salespeople are given the same mixed message that the manager received from the owner. Now we have an epidemic on our hands. Please don't misunderstand; it is definitely important to have a clean and neat store. If the owner comes in and finds out that the store has not been busy, he should bring up the store’s appearance. But, if he comes in and finds that it has been the best day of the month, he should reinforce a job well done on the selling floor and save his comments about the store's appearance for another time.

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Barrier #4: The staff is not held accountable for the quality of their sales performance. Most stores track individual sales volume of their salespeople and that's about it. But does knowing this single number tell you anything about what kind of feedback will help that person improve? About all you can say is, "Salesperson, you need to sell more!" This statement does nothing to help the salesperson improve. The details of a salesperson's performance must be tracked to provide solid information that can be analyzed and turned into real help. It is possible that the very salesperson you perceive as outstanding because of high sales volume, may turn out to be your greatest liability. You may find out from more detailed statistics that this salesperson is never adding on and dropping more customers than he or she is helping. The high volume comes from skating and handling laydowns. Without a detailed system for monitoring each individual’s weekly sales by a variety of appropriate measurement statistics, you’ll never know what’s really going on or how to improve each person’s sales performance. Barrier #5: The staff is not held accountable based on objective measures, because the manager manages based on opinions. When you manage based solely on opinions, there is too much room for mistaken judgment. You can end up punishing the top producers and rewarding the poor producers. Just because Mary looks busy, does not necessarily mean she is busy. Selling is the most important part of working in a retail store. If Mary is not good at selling, she will avoid doing it and become your handy little helper. You, in turn, think Mary is a terrific employee and always give her extra tasks to do since she is so eager to do them for you. You are rewarding Mary for not selling without even knowing it, because you are basing your judgment only on your opinion. If you actually tracked Mary's sales, it would become evident that she is not profitable for the store. Now you need to help her improve so that everyone will win. My hope is that owners and managers will someday become totally committed to nothing being more important than selling. After all, everything done in a retail store is done as a result of someone selling. You only keep buying more merchandise because it is being sold. You only do paperwork because merchandise is being sold. Imagine what could happen if everyone in your organization became totally focused on selling and developing a chain of ideal stores. Sales would explode. It can happen. It’s up to you. SSA

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INTRODUCING

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W W W. VA P O R I Z E R U S A . N E T


The Impact Sales Have on Your Business

LEADERSHIP

By: Malcolm Alderton Malcolm Alderton is a dynamic Business Development Consultant and Educator, whose 50 years’ experience in the retail industry has made him a much sought after advisor to retailers worldwide. He is an expert at pinpointing problems that need to be addressed in the retail industry. He lectures regularly at various business seminars, conferences, and retail industry meetings worldwide, as. Under Malcolm’s leadership, ARMS continues to grow and develop, and now extensively markets business development systems to the retail industry in the United States, Canada, Malaysia, Singapore, the Caribbean, New Zealand, Australia.

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irst let’s look at some facts about salespeople.

1. The saying “good salespeople are born salespeople” is akin to saying good brain surgeons are born good brain surgeons. Over the years, I have analyzed the performance of thousands of retail salespeople and can say that I have come across less than a handful that I believe were"born" salespeople. Most sales people acquire their sales techniques, both good and bad. Unlike salespeople, brain surgeons don’t acquire their skills, but are highly trained. 2. No two people are born equal. You only need to look at the results of each of your salespeople to confirm this statement. 3. Product knowledge is important, but sales skills are vital and yet we spend more time talking about product than how to sell. 4. Most sales people have an evolved sales technique. They started in a shop and were told “fill the cash register up” along with a cursory talk about how the store operates. From then on they watched others and this is how they learned to sell (boy, am I glad my doctor and dentist didn’t learn the same way). 5 - Selling is pure psychology. The customer has a need and seeks to have that need fulfilled. Top salespeople do not sell product. They determine what the customer’s need is, then fill that need. 6 - Ask all your salespeople if they are doing the best they can, and most will say “yes”. If you can believe them, and you should be able to, then when you compare their performance you will need ask yourself

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why one person can create twice as many sales as another. The answer is simple. They are both doing the best they can. It's just that one has better sales skills than the other. 7. Salespeople often confuse product knowledge with sales skills. This is a major failing. 8. Salespeople often try and sell features but not benefits. Only 10% of the population cares about features (and that’s typically when buying electronics). Everyone cares about benefits, which translate to “what’s in it for me”. Who cares how many times the piston in the new car goes up and down at 100 Kph? Who cares if the seam of the jacket has 6 stitches to the inch compared to 5? Who cares if the diamond ring has 4 claws rather than five? These are all features of the product. What people do care about are the benefits gained from these features. They care that the car gets twice the fuel economy because of the slower piston speed. They care that the jacket will last twice as long due to the stitching. They care that, should the ring be knocked and a claw is bent back, that with a five-claw setting the chances of losing the diamond is infinitesimal compared to a four-claw setting. Your salespeople have to be able to present benefits…not features, to become top salespeople. 9. Many salespeople have the mistaken belief that they exist to sell product and it’s this belief that costs them many sales. First, they have to sell themselves. People don’t buy from someone who doesn’t make them feel welcome or comfortable when they walk into the store. Then, they need to sell the store. Customers want to know they are in the right store, the store that will look after them. Then, and only then, are customers receptive to buying product. Ok, so as a store owner, now that you have these facts, what should you do?

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2. Interest: We all know that we have occasions coming up, but what is required to get our interest? What we read, see, hear or feel impacts this second stage. This is where advertising comes into play. However, advertising does NOT sell. It gets peoples interested. Advertising only gets people through our door. When we walk into a store, it is 95% in the hands of the salesperson as to whether we purchase something. The other 5% is due to the store not having product that satisfy our needs. How often have you walked into a speciality store, such as a clothing store, gift store or retail store, and walked out without buying simply because the salesperson did not get, and hold, your interest? They displayed a disinterested attitude in you and your needs. You need to train your salespeople to show interest in the customer’s needs, not just try and sell product. There is only one way to find out what interests the customer. Ask, ask, ask! Ask about the occasion, when is it coming up, who it involves,do they like gold or white metal, what price range do they have in mind? Too many sales are lost because salespeople assume they know what the customer wants. I was in a store the other day when a sales person directed a “just looking” customer to the “new range of diamond pendants” (it had not occurred to the salesperson that ALL the items in the store were new to the customer) when in fact it turned out that the customer was looking for a watch for her husband. A sale was nearly lost. Salespeople have a big impact on getting customers interested. 3. Conviction: No, this does not mean we are going to jail. Conviction means we are convinced enough to buy the product that the salesperson got us interested in. Their NEED has been satisfied. Salespeople have a 100% impact on the customer being convinced.

First, you should budget at least $1,000 per salesperson, per year, to devote to sales training. Then, plan the training. I can tell you from documented experience that most money spent on sales training is repaid in extra sales within weeks, if not days. It’s only a matter of replacing the evolved sales technique habits with a new set of habits called the “Planned Sales Technique”.

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4. Desire: Without desire, people will not buy. The desire part is turning the NEED into a WANT. To do this, salespeople have to learn how to associate the product with the occasion and how to bring the two together. For example. “Can you see your daughter wearing this pendant to her 21st birthday party?” or “Can you imagine proudly showing this ring off to your friends?” When the salesperson builds the desire, it makes it easy to get a YES decision from the customer.

What is the “Planned Sales Technique” you ask? The “Planned Sales Technique” uses the 5 psychological stages that we all go through when we buy something, be it a stick of gum or a new house. In brief, these psychological stages are:

5. Decision: Once the customer has the desire, the salesperson has to stop selling and close the sale. The Salesperson has better than 95% influence on the decision – one way or the other.

1. Attention: Something always gets our attention before we consider buying. To a lesser degree, attention is also driven by need. Unless something grabs our attention, we don’t spend money. For the most part, the attention is created for us by the occasion or need.

Now that you understand the five psychological stages that we all go through when buying something, it is simply a matter of training your staff how to apply a “Planned Sales Technique”, which takes advantage of these psychological stages. All the best with your training! SSA

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www.Song Of India.com 1-800-231-2201 info@SongOfIndia.com

International & Domestic Distributors Welcome

The Best Selling Incense


Transforming Your Store Into a Retail

LEADERSHIP

Sales Experience

By: John Cordova John Cordova, VP Sales and Business Development at Leo Frank & Sons is a successful business operator with almost 30 years of experience across all aspects of both retail and wholesale business environments. John’s forte includes developing sales systems, recruiting and training the best teams and creating innovative, revenue producing solutions. Leo Frank & Sons is a 3rd Generation, Family Owned Diamond Wholesale business that thinks like a retailer and offers a unique suite of values that help its retail partners achieve their goals. www.leofrank.com or contact John directly at johnc@leofrank.com.

T

ransforming your store into a retail experience begins by asking and answering, honestly, two important questions. Those two questions are: 1. Why does your store exist? 2. Who is your store designed for today? These questions apply to brick and mortar stores and websites. The answer to the first question should be that your store exists for the bottom line and is there to make sales and be profitable. If that is not your answer, this is the wrong article for you and you should probably be reading, “My Store as a Not for Profit Machine”.

When designing your store, staying true to what your customers want it to look and feel like (while maintaining brand integrity - hey, I didn’t say it would be easy) is critical. That being said, if the store you’re in now isn’t a Retail Experience yet, don't despair. There are steps you can take to turn that around.

Although I kid about the “wrong article”, the truth is that over time, many retailers tend to forget their purpose and as a result are not proactive at taking the steps needed to mitigate revenue and profit loss. In turn they find it difficult to identify corrective actions when the numbers begin to decline. The good news is that staying focused on the two questions discussed here will help you to identify course corrections in order to continue achieving results while organizations around you may struggle. Constantly ask “Why does my store exist?” Your answer to this question will help you stay ahead of the competition.

Look at your store from the outside - in, using what you believe would be your customer’s discerning eye (don’t be afraid to ask a few real customers for their opinions). The outside includes not only your store front. It also includes your advertising and any associated collateral. After all, those are often a customer’s first introduction to your store. On the inside consider where the customer is greeted, how your staff presents your value proposition and themselves, if the displays are relevant, clean and if they tell a story.

Now, for the second question - “Who is your store designed for today?” There’s a good chance that if you answered honestly, your response may no longer be the answer that will make you the most money. This is because your store should be designed strictly with today’s customer in mind and, more importantly, through their eyes. Your store may have been this way at one point, but over time customers change and the competitive landscape changes, so in response your store should change too.

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Unfortunately, we often decide on our store’s product layout, fixtures and in-case collateral based on what we like, what others in our industry are doing or, worst of all, because we’ve always done it that way. A true retail experience is designed using the customer’s perspective as the effective lens and considers every detail like displays, relevant in store media, customer traffic flow and more. At this stage, ask “What does my customer want and for what are they willing to pay?”

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It’s a top to bottom, front to back assessment that needs to be conducted. Once you’ve assessed your store, address the low hanging fruit such as, how your staff presents your value, display freshness and clutter. As you move through the easier changes, plan your next steps, always keeping in mind why your store exists in the first place and who it is you’re designing the store for. If you stay the course, your results will continue to improve and equally important, you’ll develop a “habit of evolution” that will continue to serve you well while going forward. SSA www.smokeshopadvisor.com


LEARNING

LEADERSHIP

FROMMISTAKES

By: Bob DeMaria Bob DeMaria has 45 years of experience in sales, sales management and marketing as an inside and outside sales representative, sales manager for 4 different companies and owner of several businesses. He can be reached at 800-874-8768, ext. 110 or by email at bdemaria@rdidiamonds.com.

W

e all start somewhere. In sales, we learn by training and then by doing. Often, we are thrust into the moment before we are truly ready. Like learning to swim, we either sink or swim. My first sales job was accidental. I was actually hired to be an expediter, in charge of getting merchandise from the warehouse and bringing it up front as needed. I was the emergency guy. On rare occasions, I was allowed to actually wait on a customer. We sold camera equipment, electronics and small appliances. I had lied about a background in photography to get the job, figuring it was more of a warehouse job than anything else. It was my first day on the job when two people called in sick. The next thing I knew I was behind the counter. To say I was unprepared would be an understatement. At 16 and looking like 12, I knew most people would assume I knew very little about anything. So, I decided to use that to my advantage. I asked customers a lot of questions and basically learned from their answers. I was fortunate to learn from an early age that customers will tell you what it takes to sell them if you shut up and listen. By the way, I never worked a day as an expediter. As time went on, I got full of myself with my rapidly growing knowledge. I started spewing facts and advice even when they weren’t asked for. Not surprisingly, that strategy didn’t work too well. It took awhile to develop the self-control it takes to recognize when to talk and when to listen. I have found that ego can often get in the way. No one likes to feel stupid or inferior. Yet, that’s often how it comes across when salespeople spout knowledge just to show a customer that they know better. We need to walk a fine line between cocky arrogance and confident helpfulness. Experience is always the best teacher. I’m pretty sure I’ve made every mistake you can make. As most people do, I’ve learned from my mistakes. Mistakes are the best teachers. Painful lessons seem to etch indelibly into the mind. Often, as salespeople, we stumble into success. You happen

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to be in the right place at the right time and close the deal on a big sale. You may delude yourself into believing that you found some magic elixir that will instantly produce a sale, when in fact it was just dumb luck. No valuable lesson is truly learned except to try and put yourself into that position as often as possible. Reviewing both your successes and failures is the key to growth. A failure is seldom appreciated at the time, however it can be a great help to our growth. We often choose to write off customers as difficult or impossible when we have not done enough to inspire them. That is on us. Every experience can improve us if we allow it to. We’ve all heard the definition of insanity: the one where we are doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results. Without an effort to improve, we demonstrate our own version of insanity. When we consider ourselves at the top of our game, growth stops. Here again is where ego can be our worst enemy. Sometimes, it’s not ego, but fear. It can also be laziness or complacency. Whatever the reason, not advancing is the same as going backwards. Twenty years ago I started writing a book on selling. My ego told me I knew more than enough to write a definitive work of literature. In retrospect, my knowledge and ability were pretty sound, however, I now know that it wasn’t enough. What I could offer today would be much better. That’s not to say it would be complete. As the last 20 years can attest, honing your skills is a never-ending process. The sources of information never cease to amaze me. I have learned from young and old and from both buyers and sellers. I’ve observed my grandchildren work their parents, my wife, and I, into purchases that I was sure couldn’t possibly happen. Some are clever. Some try your patience, while some are just persistent. Depending on the situation, every technique has a chance to work. That is really the lesson to be learned. To be successful, you need to know the fundamentals and do them right. However, your ability to adapt to a particular situation will broaden your comfort zone and bring you more success. That comes from being honest with yourself and learning from your mistakes. SSA www.smokeshopadvisor.com


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