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Are your employees listening to customers?

Kelly Sharp is the owner of Heart of Iowa Market Place

I went into a local furniture store not too long ago and I was very surprised by the reception I received.

I asked the clerk about a new mattress and it was as much what she didn't say as what she did that made me cringe as a store owner.

She didn't ask what I was looking for. She didn't ask how much I wanted to invest or what was important to me about this purchase. In fact, she didn't ask anything. Instead, her first words were, "Our cheapest is over here."

Those words were a big disservice to everyone on both sides of the transaction. They failed to take the customer's needs into account and they certainly cost the business a great deal of money sale after sale after sale.

Her words might as well have been, "I don't really care what you want." And, the assumption that a customer wants the cheapest product is insulting on many levels.

Customers are looking for value. But value doesn't mean the lowest possible price.

As the owner of a specialty retail store, the Heart of Iowa Market Place in Valley Junction, I know customers are very savvy. They know that true value is much more than finding the cheapest products around. They know that product quality, where products come from and the ethics of the people who provide them are important.

Above all, consumers want products that solve their problems or meet their needs. They want retailers that will help them accomplish that goal and make them feel like they are listening rather than just trying to sell them something.  

To do that, you need to slow down, ask questions and listen. Are your sales people asking the right questions and listening to your customers?

-Kelly Sharp

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