It’s amazing what you can forget. I wouldn’t consider myself a big reader, but I do read a lot. In remodeling my work/writing studio earlier this year, I rearranged all my books, hardbacks and paperbacks, hundreds of them. Putting my hands on every book I’ve read in the last 20-plus years, I couldn’t help but sit and glance through a few. It’s amazing what you can forget and how fast you can remember.

I read for knowledge and inspiration; I need both to succeed. To write an article requires knowledge and inspiration, and I need both to speak to an audience. To interact with my team and our clients, I need knowledge and inspiration.

In the marketing business there is a truism that says, “You either lead ’em or you lose ’em.” To lead a client or to lead a customer, you must stay ahead, and I stay ahead by reading. I read books, white papers, online magazines, and I subscribe to dozens of magazines. In other words, I purposefully direct knowledge and inspiration into my daily routine because it’s mandatory to my success. Likewise, to work at a retail sales counter every day requires knowledge and inspiration.

Whose job is it to inspire you? It’s your job. Having worked in both wholesale and retail, I used to say, “Retail is a grind.” In wholesale, you have a chance to better regulate or control your workflow. In retail, customers call when they want; they walk in when it’s convenient for them. In retail, you have to be ready at all times; it’s emotionally demanding. I remember making the switch from wholesale to retail. It was quite an adjustment.

I’m challenging you to inspire yourself so you may be an inspiration to your customers, your coworkers, and your community. I remember the first time I heard someone say to me, “From time to time, we need a check-up from the neck-up.” An attitude adjustment, if you will. If we’re honest with ourselves, we can all use a tune-up at any given time. Retail is a grind, and it can grind off your edge and you’ll become dull. The key to sharpness is knowledge and inspiration so that we can lead our customers and not lose them.I’d like to recommend a number of books that will bring a fresh perspective. The book Shift by Peter Arnell, in chapters 8 and 9, talks about the “Power of positive emotions” and “Overcoming fear.” You need positive power to overcome the daily grind at the sales counter.

In the book AdaptAbility, the author, M.J. Ryan, writes about the “Pace of change” in our world. Drawing a parallel between life and rafting, he welcomes us to “Permanent white water.” Like I’ve said before, “Even the speed of change is changing.” Ryan explains in several chapters that often our own thinking is not our friend, that change is not the enemy, fear is, and we’re more resilient than we think we are.

None of us asked for tire pressure monitoring systems, yet here they are; we have to accept change and gain a healthy emotional cycle. We see in the not too distant future that cars will be autonomous, with sensors everywhere. Today’s new vehicles have 100 million lines of code. Change is coming and coming quickly; we need knowledge and inspiration to remain successful.

If I could recommend any book first, it would be Why We Buy by Paco Underhill. This book outlines “The science of shopping.” Underhill shares insight into people and process. He breaks it down in chapters entitled “Shop like a man” and “What women want.” They say retail is detail, and no one breaks it down quite like Paco Underhill. The chapters on merchandising are very insightful.

Why am I encouraging you to read? Because everyone needs more knowledge, more inspiration.

Knowledge is courage, and courage is confidence, and confidence translates into more of everything that matters.

Knowledge, courage, and confidence lead to increases in revenue, sales, customer satisfaction, loyalty, personal satisfaction, in-store harmony, and sustainability.

Everything that matters stems from knowledge, inspiration and action. There isn’t anyone I have ever met involved in serving customers on a daily basis working at a sales counter that wouldn’t benefit from reading any of these books.

I’ve bought dozens of books for others in the past, for people who I perceived would take my gift seriously. I’ll invest $25 in anyone’s life. You should invest $25 in your life; invest in yourself and those around you. There is no one you know who wouldn’t benefit from you investing in yourself, not your coworkers, not your customers, not your family, not your community, not you.

Let’s do this, let’s get courageous. Winners win, nobody wins alone.   

Wayne Williams is president of ExSell Marketing Inc., a “counter intelligence” firm based in La Habra, Calif. He can be reached at exsellmkting@gmail.com.

To read more Counter Intelligence columns, click:

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Expenses Creep, and Gross Profit Leaks: Watch the 'Extras' That Affect Operating Expenses

People. Process. Profit: Keep Your Focus

A Simple Technique to Compete with the Big Boys

Helpful Tips for Winners

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