Selling + Serving = Retailing: Create Confidence and Build Enthusiasm to Make Sales

Oct. 27, 2016

Full definition of retailing: The activities involved in the selling of goods to ultimate consumers for personal or household consumption.

I like the full definition of retailing, the activities involved, the selling of goods. Every single definition I researched used the term “selling.” At the core of retailing is selling; there is no separating the two. Retailing is selling. Independent tire dealers are retailers.

Selling is not just telling, not just suggesting, not causally pointing out, selling is very purposeful. It’s about making a sale, and delivering necessary goods to consumers. On the other hand, it is not dropping the hammer or going for the throat; there is a definite balance between “soft” selling and “hard” selling.

Whether a situation calls for soft sell, hard sell or something in between, there is a key ingredient that successful retailers use. Without that key, both immediate and return business suffers, and it’s one of the most critical ingredients in the activities involved in the selling of goods, it is confidence. Customers seek confidence before making a purchase. Without confidence, customers will continue to shop until they find the necessary information, assurance, justification, price, value, etc.

Confidence comes from confidence. It’s hard for customers to gain confidence from sales people who lack confidence. A perfect example is the new customer versus an established customer. The repeat customer is returning to your location because you/they have established a level of historic confidence. Conversations with returning customers are different than with new customers due to the level of shared confidence.The primary reason confidence is so important in tire retailing is most tire customers are tire-agnostic; in other words, they don’t have confidence in their own knowledge. Definition of agnostic: Someone who is doubtful or noncommittal, uncertain.

As independent tire retailers, we must answer two questions: what to buy, and where to buy? If we convince our customers what to buy, i.e., Goodyear or Hankook, but we neglect to secure their confidence in our location, then we lose. Let me offer a few opinions about tires, internet providers, and why confidence matters more now than ever.

Because many tire customers are agnostic and tires are expensive, tire customers are now, more than ever, looking to the internet for research and purchase solutions. Consumer confidence on the internet is shifting. You can now buy a mattress online with a complete satisfaction guarantee, and have it delivered to your home in a box. Yes, a mattress online, because customers have increased confidence in internet e-commence solutions.

Another example of increased confidence in e-commerce solutions is the internet giant Amazon. When I talk to Amazon Prime members about the advantages and benefits, there are two words to describe their admiration: enthusiastic confidence. That much enthusiasm and confidence will lead a tire customer to research and potentially purchase tires from Amazon.

Independent tire retailers must exude high levels of confidence call after call, visit after visit, day after day. Lack of enthusiasm and/or confidence is fatal when dealing with tire customers. That being said, what are the barriers or building blocks to customer enthusiasm and confidence?

The building blocks differ from customer to customer and they differ between men and women. Women are astute shoppers and appreciate comparisons, background, and interaction with sales staff. It takes longer for women to make a buying decision and they are always appreciative of knowledgeable assistance. Women find confidence in a knowledgeable, helpful, patient, and understanding approach.

Men, on the other hand, don’t shop like women; they have a tendency to “buy” versus “shop.” Men tend to look for a bargain versus comparative shopping. Men like concrete facts such as features and benefits, and they are willing to spend more money to save time.

Men lose enthusiasm if a sales person drags out the information, and women lose confidence if the sales presentation or explanation is too fast. My rule of thumb, if selling to a woman, slow down as women are more astute; with men, focus on the lowdown and cut to the chase. Many men are less interested in details.

Earlier I said, “Confidence comes from confidence.” A sales person who lacks confidence in their products, their company or themselves will not earn the necessary confidence from the customer to make the sale.

Retailing is about selling, making the sale, and confidence is crucial. Tire dealers are retailers!

Retailing is a combination of selling and serving.

Great retailers create confidence and build enthusiasm every day.  

Wayne Williams is president of ExSell Marketing Inc., a “counter intelligence” firm based in La Habra, Calif. He can be reached at [email protected].

To read more Counter Intelligence columns, click:

There Are Only Two Problems You Can Have in a Tire Store

Beware of Routing Dullness: Invest $25 and a Little Time in You and Your Career

Leading Up the Hill or Off the Cliff: Make Your Employees See the Light or Feel the Heat

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

About the Author

Wayne Williams

Tire retailing expert Wayne Williams was president of ExSell Marketing Inc. and longtime author of MTD’s popular “Counter Intelligence” column. He died in July 2018.