How do you defeat a GIANT? Ask another GIANT! The Giant retailer Walmart believes they have the answer! Walmart is waging war against the behemoth Amazon with their new customer experience strategy. They are going at one of their biggest rivals by attacking them at their core strengths. Of course Amazon has many strengths, but one if it's most appealing benefits to their customers is it's 2 day free shipping offered to it's Prime Members. Since 2005 Amazon has been luring customers over to their online store and and getting them to purchase their Prime Membership giving which gives them access to thousands of products with free 2 day shipping. No other retailer has been able to combat this strategy until now. You have retailers such as Target that launched free two-day shipping nationwide (to REDCard holders or those who spend a $35 minimum) last year. Target Restock program allows you to order 35,000 items for a $99 annual subscription, but no one has really been able to crack the code until now. Walmart the brick and mortar retail Giant has just implemented free shipping. But get this not just free shipping, free one day shipping. Yes Walmart is promising to ship more items faster than Amazon, and on top of that it's doing it FREE! Prime costs $120 a year, but Walmart 1 day shipping is FREE! So does this retail GIANT have the key to rival another retail GIANT in Amazon, we will just have to wait and see. Amazon currently is trying to do the same and answer the Free shipping strategy by Walmart. We will just have to see what transpires from Walmart bold move and see if Free is the Key to combat competition! How can you apply this to your business. You may say I can't do free shipping well if it's not free shipping think about what can you give the customer that they don't have to pay for that enhances and enriches their customer experience. If you're a brick and mortar retailer, online retailer, sales professional what can you do that's free to that customer that makes their experience even better when doing business with you? Walmart has cracked the code. So now it's your turn. "The Key Is Free"
Tipping the scale weighing a whopping 260 pounds and only standing 5 feet 10 inches today is considered obese. That was me six years ago before I lost eighty-five pounds. Being 85 pounds overweight not only slowed me down physically, but it affected me professionally. One of my goals was to be a top sales performer within my sales career, but for some reason I always fell short. I had to try something different. Talking with a longtime friend who played in the NFL for 10 years helped me make that change. He said these words. “Damus, I’ve known you since High School and I’m just going to give it to you straight. The reason you’re not crushing it at work is because you’re fat. In the NFL every position requires you to be at a certain level of physical fitness. For a running back you have to be fast, strong, explosive and endure the physical energy the game demands of you. You have to be in shape to go 4 quarters. Ask yourself, this question for your position in your career do you have the physical energy required to work those long hours or be the road warrior needed to make those sales calls?” Well, I had to take a hard look at myself and the answer was no. That day I decided to make a change and improve my health so I could improve my performance.
Physical health boils down to physical activity, portions, protein, and produce. A moving body is a better body. Sitting too much can actually kill you. I know we may not be able to do the same thing in regards
to physical activity, but we should do something. If it’s walking, jogging, or even marching in place, physical movement improves your overall health. A sedentary lifestyle is more prone to disease and even depression.
The second thing we must look at is our portions. This is one of my weaknesses, I love to eat. But in order to drop all those pounds I had to control my eating. I had to eat less and drink more…more water that is. I ate smaller portions of food, more frequently. I ate every 2 to 3 hours and drank lots of water which helped curb my appetite. The third thing we must master is produce. This refers to yummy fruits and vegetables. Eating healthy has many benefits. Produce provides antioxidants that help fight off cancer and other diseases, while also providing energy to help recharge your body. You would be amazed what a diet of fruits and veggies will do for you. To be a top performer you must make sure your human battery is recharged to give you the energy to perform at the level your position requires.
One of the most challenging aspects of a leader is getting people to respect you and work hard for you. It is very rare to see your employees to go above and beyond for you. Often times as leader we can be so driven by the numbers, the vision, and the goals that we don’t see the person, we just see the Employee. I have haled many workshops and breakouts sessions for employees and leaders across the country where the employees have said they feel they just get treated like a number. They feel that their supervisors, managers just really don’t care about their well-being. All they care about is hitting the quota, meeting the goal. This is common in many organizations. What we fail to realize is that if we changed how we looked at our employees and start showing that we actually care, this will give them that extra drive to work harder for us and make it easier for you in your role as a leader.
I will never forget early on in my career as a Retail Sales Trainer. I was hired right out of school, by a gentlemen named Kevin. Kevin thought I had the potential to really help grow his business in Michigan. That was my assignment basically to help increase sales in the state of Michigan. Now did I do my job of trying to increase sales? Sure but did I bust my butt trying to increase sales no. The only reason I did my job was because of Kevin’s position. I mean he was my boss. Because of Kevin’s power he had the authority to hire me or fire me, and because I wanted to get paid. No job no money. My effort towards my position was ok but it was nowhere near Rock Star status. But later on that year something changed. I never forget this day. It was during winter on the day of my grandfather’s funeral. It was one of those snowy days in Michigan that we were accustomed to seeing. The funeral was held in a small church. As the pastor is giving the Eulogy and ask does anyone want to come up and say a few words. Grieving and just heartbroken that I just lost the man who raised me I decided to go up and speak. As I’m speaking reading from a card that I wrote, eyes filled with tears all of a sudden I look up and there at the back of the Church I see Kevin my boss my leader at the Church with tissue in his hands at the funeral. I couldn’t believe that he was actually at the funeral. The funeral was about two hours from his house and mind you it was about 7 inches of snow that day. That moment changed my attitude towards his leadership. That moment changed my work ethic. From that moment on I started to bust my tail and go above and beyond for my leader. I felt compelled to be that Rock Star Employee and make Kevin look like a Rock Star as well by being on his team. I knew that Kevin cared about me as a person. This is why the third key is Care about the person not just the goal in your leadership role
Do you have a mattress? Odd question right? Well another question have you ever shopped for a mattress? As mentioned earlier with my first job as a Sales Representative with the title of Retail Account Specialist for the top bedding manufacture in the country I was given the task of being a secret shopper. I had to put myself in the customer’s shoes. In doing this I learned how the customer thinks and what really compels them to make a purchase. The information I gathered from my researched was invaluable. I was able to use this information to excel in my career and help businesses across the country. In making my rounds to all the different stores that sold mattresses I discovered something very shocking. Before I tell you what I discovered. Let me ask you another question? What does a mattress stores sell? I’m pretty sure you said a mattresses right! Duh! Everyone knows that. Hey I would have said the same thing, when a customer goes to a mattress store they are coming in to buy a mattress, right? Okay now hold that thought I will come back to the answer shortly.
As a Retail Account Specialist in the mattress industry I had a situation where the sales manager wanted to know how they could increase their sales. Their sales were steadily decreasing and they didn’t know what they could do to stop the bleeding. They discovered that their business was down from last year. The sales manager asked me: “Damus what can we do to prevent customers from walking out of our store and going down the street to purchase from our competitors? Our competitors have the same products, the manager said, they have some of the same brands, and they even run aggressive ads with sometimes cheaper prices. Well I asked the manager the same question I asked you earlier. When the customer comes into your store what are they looking for? Well his answer was the same one you may have said earlier. A mattress! Duh. Well that’s the problem. That’s the problem with sales. So many times when we are selling we are focusing on the product. We focus on the features and benefits. We tell them about all the bells and whistles. Hey this widget does A, B, and C and if you turn it this way it can even perform D. Now I am not saying features and benefits aren’t important and this book is not intended to teach you how to sell, its intention is to teach you how to compel. In the world of selling, features and benefits are important, but in the universe of compelling it’s not about the product. When we are selling we are focusing on the product, but when we are compelling we are focusing on the purpose.
Competition Competition Competition! These words are used by many businesses that are failing today. In the new economy competition is tougher than it has ever been and competition and many feel competition is what's causing sales to suffer. Is this really the problem? I truly believe that when you pay close attention you can outperform your competition. That's what an online retail giant Amazon is doing They have decided to enter the retail landscape and create their own brick and mortar stores, but they decided to do things a little different. They have analyzed the customer! That's right they looked at the customer! Amazing right! They looked at what frustrated the customer and as a result has came up with their own innovative retail concept, Amazon GO.
To create a compelling experience for your customer you must look at some of the negatives that causes friction between you and the customer that can be removed to give the feel to seal the deal? This is what Amazon has done. They have looked at the negatives that come along when shopping in Grocery stores and as a result Amazon Go was birthed. Amazon which is known for retail dominance with it online store has entered the retail market. But they have entered it with a different approach. An approach that no other retailer has even thought about. Amazon has created retail stores removing the frustration of the checkout line. Where customers would usually wait in long lines dreading the experience of shopping. They have gotten away from the old traditional way of doing things like other retailers.
Many retailers didn’t recognize customers were frustrated with waiting in lines. So Amazon has created cashier-less stores that carry grocery items where you literally can grab what you want off the shelf scan your phone and exit the store. They have created an experience around less time and less friction. They have removed the barriers that prevented many customers from having an enjoyable experience. You download the Amazon Go App on your phone you scan your QR Code to enter the store then anything you pick up will be added to your virtual shopping cart. If you put the item back then it will be removed from your virtual shopping cart. Once you finish shopping you walk right out and your Amazon account will be automatically charged. Now is this concept flawless? Not at all. There some kinks that Amazon needs to work out. They have high tech sensors and cameras to prevent theft, but again it’s not perfect. What is certain is Amazon is trying to create a better shopping experience for their customer. They are not scared of trying something new and giving the customer an enjoyable experience. What are some of the negatives that come along with the experience your customer receives when patronizing your business. What are some of the negatives that are associated in your industry or profession? How can you remove those negatives and create positives around making a fun unforgettable experience for your customer?
Down goes Frazier! Down goes Frazier! Down goes Frazier. These words were uttered many years ago by Howard Cosell in the professional boxing match of George Foreman and the Champ at the time with 29 wins and 0 losses and 10 consecutive title defenses non other than the legendary Smoking Joe Frazier. In Less than two minutes into the second round Foreman stunned Frazier with a series of punches that sent the Champ down to the canvas with a right uppercut. Well why is this relevant when talking about the Heavyweight Champion well in retail at that time Sears was the Heavyweight Champ, and just like Frazier Sears was hit with a series of devastating blows to cause the retail giant to file bankruptcy and ultimately close over 100 of its retail stores. The same year Frazier went down Sears Tower went up. The Sears Tower which at the time was the tallest building in the world symbolized Sears’s dominance in the retail industry. Sears towered over their competitors. Sears was at the top. No one would have thought this iconic brand would now be looking up from the canvas bloody and bruised by the new economy today.
The question is how? How did Sears become victim to the brutal unforgiving economy? Well I believe Sears didn’t get surprised by an uppercut, but they got caught by a hook. The look was the hook. Sears was still the same old Sears. Nothing changed. They stayed stagnant and relying on the success in the past and not adapting to be successful in the future. They continued to count on the reputation and the name they had in the past. They never changed their image, or even tried to appeal to the consumers of today. This is one of my keynote presentations I state one of the keys to compel your customers is as retailers, sales professionals, and business owners we must understand “The Look Is The Hook.” With this we must understand that how you appeal to the customer will help you make the deal with the customer.
"Hey sweetie do you want to go to Toys R US. No I want to go to Walmart!" These are the words I heard from my 5 year old niece last week. I'm thinking when I was a kid when I heard those three words “Toys R Us” I would go crazy, fast forwarding today the same excitement I felt doesn't resonate with some kids today. Why? Why is this? Well because that feeling isn't there like it was before. Today another major blow has been thrown at another retail giant. This time it's thrown at a brick and mortar retailer that we all know and love, Toys R Us. The iconic brand that put a twinkle in the eyes of children across the country has announced that it will be closing 800 stores because of lack luster sales. From fierce competition of online retailers and big box discounters, to poor management, to massive amounts of debt there are soo many quote unquote experts saying this is the reason for the demise of Toys R Us. At one point this retail giant was the King of the Hill when it came to the toy industry. Children from all ages would beg their parents to take them to the enchanting world of Toys R Us. Unfortunately just as it's other fellow brick and mortar retailers Toys R US will be joining the graveyard right next to the likes of Circuit City, Borders, Blockbusters, Radio Shack, and the other retailers who failed to evolve and differentiate themselves in the market today.
The questions that must be raised is How? How can Toys R US go from dominating the Toy Industry to being outgunned by Amazon, Walmart and other competitors in the market? Well let’s take a look. Could it be the Toy Industry itself? Currently you have the likes of tablets, computers, and other digital devices that may have a huge effect from children running to buy the next GI Joe Action Figure (I maybe telling my age with that) Next could it be pricing from competitors. Amazon, Walmart and other discount retailers have lower prices? Many big box retailers use toys as a loss leader to get people in the store. So Toys R Us maybe just couldn't compete with the low price of these retailers? Could that be the answer, but think about this Toys R US specializes in Toys, Walmart just has a section of Toys where Toys R US whole store is filled with Toys? Could it be poor management? Toys R Us had massive debt and loans they had to pay back every year that maybe didn’t give them the luxury to revamp their outdated stores and create a better experience for the consumer. Or just maybe it was a combination of all these things that caused Toys R US to close its doors.
The one thing that is for certain Toys R Us failed to evolve. Businesses that don’t evolve will soon dissolve. This seems to be the case for the traditional brick and mortar retailer time and time again. This is exactly what happened to Toys R Us. Whether poor management or a bad market if you just sit there twiddling;ng your thumbs you will be numb. Numb to the pain of poor performance and lack luster customer appeal. Numb to the fact that your competitors are slowly nibbling away at market share and you are dying a slow death. Numb to the fact that your customers are tire of visiting your stores and not feeling no excitement or any type of engagement from visiting your business. Yes they may have been strapped for cash but you don’t have to have a truck load of money to create an experience that pricks the heart of your consumer.
They stayed stagnate and didn’t innovate. They failed to create an unforgettable experience that Amazon or Walmart couldn't create. Toys R US failed to differentiate from the Walmart and Amazon's of the world and basically was left to compete on price. When we are competing on price and product then it just a matter of time before were subject to a loss of sales and profit margin. This is sad news from a kid that was proud to be a Toys R Us kid. Toys R Us still had the same unattractive less engaging stores that had boxed products on the shelf with the same giraffe in the 90'S as their brand ambassador. They failed to evolve and as a result their stores will dissolve. This should ring in the ears of every retailer out there. This won’t be the last you hear of the traditional retailer closing and getting outdone and outmatched by competition by having an outdated experience that just doesn’t do it for their customer.
The problem that lingers today in most businesses is getting employees revved up to perform the job that their hired for. According to Gallup, research disengaged workers cost United States businesses almost 350 billion dollars. As shocking as this may seem 75% of businesses don’t have an employee engagement strategy. Very seldom you see that employee going the extra mile. Just imagine having the ideal employee that welcomed another project that embraced the idea of more work, or was that linchpin in the company that you would hate to lose.
Many business owners think the way to motivating their employees is showering them with money, gifts, or other incentive type of gestures. For some this may work, but for the majority of those in the workforce this is not the case. Employees that are engaged set your company apart from the competition. Companies at the top 10% of employee engagement surpassed their competition by 72% per earnings per share. Another huge fact is an engaged employee is 50% more productive than unengaged employees.
Out of the top 5 motivating factors performance based cash incentives was number 3 on the list. So if you’re a manager or business owner and you’re banging your head trying to figure out how to motivate your employee’s money is not the only answer. In my new book Discover Your Dynamics I outline a sure fire strategy to recharge your employees battery. I call this the C.A.R.E. principle Communication, Affirmation, Ramification, and Evaluation. The old way of managing and leading doesn’t work with today’s employees. Leading by fear or just shear intimidation will not raise the performance from your employees.
One area you can implement immediately in the C.A.R.E. principle is affirmation. The top motivating factor for employees was praise. Praise or positive affirmation to your employee creates a connection with the company and the managers. Employees will give you more if they feel that you care about them and their well-being. Many companies today are just focused on the bottom dollar and nothing else. Sure you should expect a return on the investment you're making in your employees, and your goal is to increase the profitably of your organization, but if you want them to meet your expectation you must give them the right motivation.