By Pamela Bernstein-Gulla, Retail Lead, Hill & Co.
There’s a common misconception in the business world that once you’ve made the sale, your job is done.
I’d like to challenge this belief and take you along for a deeper understanding of why the sale is not the finish line, but the starting line — a launching pad for a potential lifelong relationship. I want to illustrate why the concept of “the sale begins after the sale” is so dear to my heart and why it’s a game changer for anyone in the business of growth, specifically in the jewelry retail business.
What if we saw the completion of a sale not as an end goal, but as a starting point? What if we celebrated not just the first purchase, but every subsequent interaction that helps build a deeper, more meaningful relationship with the client? Over time, as this relationship matures and the client makes more purchases, the initial cost of client acquisition reduces. This forms the backbone of our philosophy of why the sale begins after the sale.
I speak from experience. I was the Vice President General Manager of Fortunoff Fine Jewelry retailers for 25 years, a leader in the independent jewelry retailer category with a legendary turnover per square foot that outperformed businesses with dozens more stores. I was also an integral part of the founding team of a retail business with boutiques in Hong Kong, London and New York. In less than five years, our Managing Director, Elle Hill, Founder of Hill & Co., took it public on the Australian Stock Exchange. So I’ve been where you are. I’ve started a retail operation from scratch — and have realized that focusing on building relationships after the sale is key.
So, what happens when one invests in this philosophy? You get to create enriched customer profiles – more about their preferences, their life events, their purchasing patterns. What you can do with that information translates to an increase in the average order size, confidence in your brand and products, and a progression to purchasing higher ticket items. This means you’re not only investing in a relationship, but you’re also ensuring higher returns on your initial client acquisition cost.
Maintaining a high level of service ensures that your customers are satisfied and keep coming back to you, and at the same time, keeps your business profitable.
The sale is only part of the customer’s overall adventure. Once the sale is made, the real work of nurturing that relationship begins.
The making of brand ambassadors
Each step on the consumer journey is a hurdle we must champion our buyer’s success at moving beyond. After the “Buy” stage, think about how you receive gifts — how the wrapping, the presentation, is an invitation in itself for the gift to be opened.
Consider how your product is shipped. Is the packaging reflective of your brand? Is it a pleasure to open? Is the packaging sustainable, and is that important to your customer? All these things contribute to the overall experience.
Then next “hurdle” to consider is the “recommend” phase. This step is especially critical because a happy customer can become your greatest advocate to get the next customer onto the “Idea” step. You want to ensure that you’re making it as easy as possible for your customers to recommend you, through word of mouth, social media shares, or even referring friends directly to you.
Adopting tech to engage and enthrall
In this digital age, both in-person and technological solutions are necessary for success. At each hurdle, think about how you can leverage technology to improve the customer experience. Whether it’s through better online visibility with SEO, engaging email newsletters, convenient online shopping experiences, or innovative social media campaigns, there are plenty of tools at your disposal.
The ultimate goal is to keep customers so enthralled that they want to stay on the journey, and to turn your customers into brand evangelists. When your salespeople make a sale, they’re not just selling a product; they’re potentially creating a new brand ambassador.
An enhanced, magnificent experience
To effectively implement any post-sale strategies, it’s crucial to have proper knowledge about your customers.
Keeping track of your customers’ wish lists, aesthetic preferences, past purchases, and special occasions allows you to engage with them meaningfully. Capturing all this information and using it effectively is vital to enhancing the customer experience. I’ve found this to be true from my time on the retail floor, as well as from the experience of many retailers we’ve had the privilege of serving.
Another powerful tool to stay engaged with customers is what I call the “333” strategy, which represents follow-ups at three days, three weeks, and three months after purchase. The first follow-up, three days after purchase, is simply to thank the customer for their purchase. Three weeks later, you can check in on the customer to see if they’re enjoying their purchase and if they need any assistance. Finally, three months after the purchase, you can engage the customer with potential new offerings or deals. This strategy, while adjustable based on your own customers’ preferences, can be an effective way to keep the conversation going with your customers, thereby fostering stronger relationships and loyalty.
A love letter
Who doesn’t love love letters?
In our world, I couldn’t emphasize enough how significant emails – love letters, so to speak – can be in marketing. An astounding 20% or more of the people who receive an email from you can be expected to open it, versus a minuscule, sub-1% for social media.
And then there’s the ‘’magic email,’ one that will see an open rate of over 100%.
That’s the order confirmation email.
Order confirmation emails, and transactional emails in general, may not seem glamorous, but they hold immense value. Transactional emails are sent out after a sale has been made, a time when the customer is paying more attention to your brand than ever before. These emails are underutilized real estate; they can be used not just to confirm the sale, but to also upsell and cross-sell, thereby improving customer engagement.
Abandoned cart reminders, another type of transactional email, are also important. Approximately two-thirds of users will abandon a cart after getting to the buying stage. By reminding your customers of their incomplete purchases, offering incentives, or encouraging them to complete their purchases, businesses can reclaim potentially lost sales.
A significant sway
For the purpose of customer validation, reviews are essential, as they help to increase confidence in potential customers. After a purchase, customers should be encouraged to leave a review about their experience. This holds immense value.
To foster these endorsements, reach out to customers to encourage them to leave reviews, offering rewards such as discounts or small gifts. These reviews can be shared on platforms such as Trustpilot or Google, thereby providing further validation of your trustworthiness.
When returns are easy, it’s easy for the customer to return
An easy returns process is key. If customers find it easy to return products, they are likely to make repeat purchases. Conversely, a difficult return process can deter customers from future purchases.
But there’s another benefit to the returns process: it’s another way for your customer base to help you improve. During a transparent, easy return, your customers can share their experiences, ask questions, and provide any other feedback or insights they might have.
The sale does indeed begin after the sale. By standardizing the post-sale process and equipping staff with the right tools to ensure an optimal customer experience – including automating transactional emails and ensuring consistency in packaging and brand presentation – you’ll watch your customer satisfaction increase and loyalty to your brand reach the skies.
To watch the full talk on this subject by Hill & Co. Founder & CEO, Elle Hill, on YouTube, click here.
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