Last issue, we talked about the basics of customer service for snowboard-related stores: how to open the sale, and how to find out what the customer wants and needs.

If the first stages were done correctly, we should now have lots of information to use for the next step: showing customers the gear they can’t resist buying.

The Power Of The Touch

First, get the product into the customer’s hands. Let them put their paws all over that new deck, try on that super technical jacket, or caress those new bindings. This instills a feeling of ownership in the customer-even though they haven’t plunked the cash down yet.

Why do people buy things anyway? The core reason is that the ownership of the product is more important than the money in their pockets.

We need to do whatever we can to make the perceived value or worth of a product high. We’re going to do that by using the time-old selling skill of showing products by using features, advantages, and benefits.

Features, Advantages, Benefits

Features of a product are things you can actually see or touch on an item; an advantage is what that feature allows you to do. A stone-ground base on a board that makes it slide faster, or a high gauntlet on a glove that keeps the snow out, are examples of features and advantages. The benefit of both is that you’ll have a better, more enjoyable day riding.

Explain to customers why they need that feature, keeping in mind they may not know what it does. Even terms “sidecut,” or “Gore-tex,” may be unfamiliar. You need to tell the customer what every feature does and why it’s important to them. The more value associated with a product, the easier it is for the customer to make the decision to take it home.

Going through features, advantages, and benefits shows customers you listened to their wants and needs, and used that information to show them the best possible product. Your goal is to make this second nature in your store and an integral part of your employee culture. When the customer feels trust and value, they feel comfortable about leaving the store with tons of gear, including everything they could possibly want or need.

Some people want new gear but they only ride once a year. Make sure you still show them the best-quality item you have. Snowboarding is not a poor-man’s sport, so don’t embarrass the customer by showing them anything less than the best.

Just having that 450-dollar jacket may make them feel part of our sport, and what’s wrong with that? They’re going to be way more stoked being toasty in their killer new jacket than paying that same amount for new tires on their car. The excitement of buying something fun gives people a rush of adrenaline. Let them feel that rush in your store.

Fuel their interest for the sport as well. Talk to them about anything you know they’re exited about. If it was their first time down a black-diamond run, or their first time not falling while getting off a chair, be enthusiastic for them. They’re in our store because they want to be around the things they dream about. Be a beginner again in your heart. Be stoked about riding and let it beam through you like you just made your first powder turn.

Grabbing The Customer

After you’ve gone through features, advantages, and benefits of a product, lock them in with a “grabber.” It’s usually a phrase like, “Is that kind of what you’re looking for?”

Ask a question so their answer will almost always be “yes.” This gets them in the mind-set of agreeing with you, and goes a long way toward creating more value. It also lets you know you are going down the right path and showing the right product to them.

Use the grabber a lot; find out if that hood on the jacket is something they need, or if the multiple stance options are going to satisfy their unique foot-positioning requirements. Anytime you can ask them a question, they develop trust in you. Combine this trust with value, and the products fly out of the storre.

When you’re showing two different items, don’t talk down the one you might not like as much. The customer may only have enough money for that lesser-quality item. Show the unique features, advantages, and benefits of each, and let the customer make their own decision. Give them the freedom to buy anything in your store.

Developing Selling Skills

By listening, caring, showing, and then asking them, “That’s kind of what you’re looking for isn’t it?” makes it difficult for that customer not to want to get the product.

In the next part of snowboard selling 101 we will go further into how to create ownership, including which key phrases to use during the sales presentation When perfected, your customers will act as if they already own the product even though they haven’t made the decision to buy it yet.

In the following sections we’ll also talk about how to ask the customer to buy the product, what to do when they say no, how to confirm their decision to buy the product, and inviting them back into the store. Good luck this season, and have fun unpacking those boxes.

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This article was developed from the Sparc Selling System 3.0-a video training program developed by SIA Retailer of the Year Steve Klassen. Six 25-minute video tapes targeted to shop employees combine the fundamental principles of selling with the energy and inside knowledge of the snow, action sport, and outdoor specialty sports. For more information, call: 1-800-841-2767.