Tips on dealing with customers bearing product reviews from websites, magazines

During the year, it never fails that customers show up holding printouts from websites or crumpled magazine pages of reviews for equipment, gear or apparel from somebody or another, some legitimate and some maybe not so.
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During the year, it never fails that customers show up holding printouts from websites or crumpled magazine pages of reviews for equipment, gear or apparel from somebody or another, some legitimate and some maybe not so.

For fitness retailers, the New Year is a popular time for such reviews, especially with the appearance of product write-ups in the likes of Consumer Reports for the typical "get-fit" season. Of course, magazine and product reviews appear all year long, so it's never a wrong time to get yourself and your sales staff fit to deal with the queries.

Think now on what to say when the masses show up at your door clutching printouts or a magazine, pointing at a "Best Buy" and exclaiming "I want to buy this." That's good news if you carry "this," but not so good if you don't. And it may not even be good news even if you do carry "this" if you don't think that piece is best for that customer. If he or she is unhappy, it may reflect on you.

Prep your schpiel and your staff asap to counter the magazine-clutching masses. Here are a few tips from the SNEWS® editors:

>> If you do carry the item desired, satisfy customers by taking them to it and helping them learn more about it. If you determine it is a great fit, close the sale! Even if it is a great fit, you may still want to show them a few other pieces as comparison.

>> Never just say "no," that you don't carry that item. Instead, ask why that item interests the person. Inquire about the features described that caught their eye as well as their own goals and needs.

>> Avoid talking negatively about the piece chosen by the potential customer since that could be perceived by the person as a slam on his or her taste or judgment.

>> Acknowledge that the piece being pointed to is in fact a good piece, then discuss how there is a lot of real quality equipment these days, much with many of the same features and benefits and some that may even suit their needs better or certainly just as well.

>> Inquire if you may show them some comparable or even better items to help them learn more about what's out there. Stress the aspect of education to customers so they can better make a decision.

>> If you haven't fully "qualified" the customer yet with all the right questions about his or her needs, goals, expectations, any injuries, space requirements, etc., now is the time to do that before you just start showing any gear or product.

>> Make sure customers have all the information they need. You may sell another piece. Then again, you may not, but if nothing else you have made a contact and shown the person that you are a good store with knowledgeable staff.

>> If you can get their contact information, do so and ask if you may follow-up in a week or two to see how their shopping progressed. You may still make a sale, or the person may come back to make another purchase down the road.

--Therese Iknoian

Do you have other tips or techniques you use that work well? Click below to share them with others in the SNEWS Chat and start a discussion about dealing with customers bearing product reviews.

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