Believe it or not, there’s more to working in a gun store than just selling firearms. In fact, there’s more to selling firearms than just standing behind a counter and answering somebody’s questions. Unfortunately, that’s what your average “salesman” does. Rarely do they take the time to properly engage the customer to find out their actual needs. Instead, and this is especially true in gun sales, they project their own opinions and/or the items currently on sale. Good job! You sold that lady an Airweight .38 because she wanted something light to carry. I don’t suppose you happened to mention that it’s going to kick her pretty good when she fires it…Did you?
All too often things like this happen. The customer leaves your store and is happy right? Maybe….Maybe not. Now that customer goes to the range, loads her gun (with the juiced up self defense ammo because you probably forgot to explain the difference between that and range ammo), squeezes the trigger and is delivered a sharp pain to her hands. After experiencing this, how often do you think she’s going to practice? Not very much. So, did you really help her out or have you unknowingly armed another citizen who’s afraid of their own gun? IF she decides to try a different gun, do you think she will seek your advice once more?
A sale starts the moment a customer walks in but it isn’t necessarily finished when they walk out. You have to think long term about your customer base. Will they come back? Will they refer their friends? Or the best of both worlds, come back WITH their friends. As a business owner, you know customer acquisition can be expensive but customer retention can be very much the opposite. Your staff should be taught a number of lessons going far beyond putting a gun in somebody’s hands. Here are a few suggestions that will not only increase your bottom line but also build a loyal customer base:
- Mirror Your Customer: If “Joe” walks in very quietly, don’t jump on him or shout “HELLO!” Give him some space. Acknowledge his presence with a smile and nod and let him go about his business. If he looks your direction again, politely engage him by saying hello and asking if there’s something specific he’s looking for. Consider his actions, vocal tone etc, and make them your own.
- Offer What They Need: You’ve just sold a gun to a first time gun owner. What about everything else they need to go along with it? Sure, not everybody has the money or sees the need in the extras but as a salesman, your job also includes customer service. Does the customer want to come back to the store to buy a cleaning kit? What about the hearing protection, targets or ammo they are going to need tomorrow at the range? Should they buy it there or would your business be better off with the sale? Make sure your staff educates the customer in their actual needs and offers to fulfill them. I usually grab a small range bag, cleaning kit, box of defense ammo along with at least 2 boxes of range ammo, eye & ear protection. Put it together and give them a package price if they purchase it along with their new gun. Don’t forget to mention any training options you may have.
- Learn From Each Other: At the start of each week, have every employee pick a product that they are unfamiliar with. Have them study that product during slow times throughout the week. At the end of the week, gather everybody together and have them each tell the group what they learned about the product. Everybody then learns about each of the products even though they only focused on one. If you have the ability to do this daily, that’s even better.
The examples could go on and on but hopefully you get the general idea. Continue to teach your employees how to interact with customers and offer additional products and services. Your employee will gain knowledge as well as confidence in more products than just the ones they were interested it and your customers will appreciate the attention to detail.