Published: July 19,2004
Wanna double your sales? OK, here goes…
Holding court at Einstein’s Bagels this morning (as I do about a hundred times a year), a business friend, Gary Nowicki, sat down at my table and started to tell me a story about a big customer he took on a tour of his factory.
His factory is three hours away from the customer’s place of business. So during the drive up, they became friends — and they became better friends on the return trip. In the middle — the tour — Gary got a big order.
“How often do you make the sale when you bring someone to the factory for a tour?” I inquired.
“Oh, 100%!” he exclaimed with a smile.
“So why don’t you take every one of your prospects to the factory?” I asked.
“That’s a good question,” he said.
Now doesn’t it seem logical, if taking customers on a factory tour increases your closing percentage, that you should do it all the time? Well, the reality is that not everyone can get to the factory. BUT, I guarantee that at least twice as many people COULD get to the factory if you changed your method of selling.
If you do factory or home office tours, think about your closing percentage. Pretty high, isn’t it? So why don’t YOU take everyone on a factory tour? (NOTE: The word “factory” means your place of business. It does NOT have to be a factory, but it DOES have to be your best foot forward at your place of business.)
Right now, as you’re reading this, some of you are thinking: “Duh, he’s right!” Others are thinking: “I have no factory.” And still others are thinking: “My office or my place of business is a disgrace or not suitable to bring a customer.” And still others are whining: “My customers don’t have the time to come.” Or — you haven’t been able to get them to your factory. These are lame excuses, often posed by mediocre salespeople without an ounce of creativity in their bones.
IDEA: Send a limo to a customer’s place, pick him up, drive him to your place of business, and I guarantee he’ll have a smile on his face as he exits the car. Make it a memorable event, and I guarantee that when your customer leaves, he’ll have a bigger smile on his face — and you’ll have a purchase order in your hand.
So the question is: Why are factory tours so effective? The easy answer: They provide confidence and reassurance to the potential customer. But let’s take a deeper look.
The following 6.5 reasons explain why factory tours work:
1. Factory tours provide information and show both audible and visible proof that you can get the job done.
2. Factory tours combine selling with fun (if you do it right).
3. Factory tours allow face-to-face reassurance of your offer.
4. Factory tours let you see the whole relationship, not just the sale.
5. Factory tours reduce the customer’s risk of doing business with you, thereby providing peace of mind.
6. If you do it right, factory tours are exciting and provide an emotional experience.
6.5 With a factory tour, you’re playing a home game. Seventy-five percent of all sports games are won at home — same in sales.
By walking through your door, your prospective customer becomes a probable purchaser. She can see firsthand how you conduct your business, the quality of your products, the quality of your people, and how she (the probable purchaser) will be treated once she becomes a customer. But it’s important to understand that this is not just a factory “tour.” To win the sale, you have to make it an “experience.”
In Salt Lake City, Utah, OC Tanner, the nation’s foremost employee recognition and awards company, has a full-time employee whose sole job is to arrange and give factory tours. The company knows this is the best way to show their prospective customers the value of recognition. AND their closing percentage is higher than any other form of selling. It’s a matter of flying people in, coordinating the event, and inserting a personalized WOW that takes it from a “tour” to an “event.”
In order to raise the percentage of closing the sale, you have to raise the level of what occurs during the tour. Thinking about the tour as an “event” helps set the stage for something more memorable than simply walking around and introducing people.
Well, now you get the idea that factory tours work. But the big question is: Will yours? What are the elements of a factory tour that will make it work? Do you have an agenda, an outline or a game plan for how each tour will be conducted? Do you have several WOW factors built in to the tour? What will make the tour memorable? What will emotionally charge your probable purchaser, causing him or her to buy on the spot? And even more important, what will the probable purchaser say about your place once he or she returns home?
So here’s the formula: The more compelling the tour — the greater your chance of turning tourists into customers.
Here’s an idea: Call a couple of your suppliers. Ask them if they give tours. If they do, take one. Call a couple of your customers. Ask them if they give tours. If they do, take one. Call a couple of your closest business friends. Ask them if they give tours. If they do, take one. Gain some experience about what others do, and then make yours better.
Here’s my promise: Double your factory tours — and you’ll double your sales. That’s the easy part. The hard part? It’s up to you.
Free GITBIT: I have prepared a WOW Factor self-test. It’s yours free by going to www.gitomer.com — register of you’re a first time user, and enter the words WOW in the GitBit box.
Jeffrey Gitomer, author of “The Sales Bible,” and “Customer Satisfaction is Worthless, Customer Loyalty is Priceless,” is president of Charlotte-based Buy Gitomer. He gives seminars, runs annual sales meetings and conducts training programs on selling and customer service. He can be reached at (704) 333-1112 or e-mail
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