This article is yet another lesson taken from the exciting pages of my life, this time when I was bathing suit shopping.
Who wants to try on bathing suits, right?
Especially after you’ve just finished a big dinner and a pint of beer.
I’m sharing why I was persuaded to try on, and buy, an expensive bathing suit and explaining what I call the bathing suit sales technique.
My husband and I recently went to the mall to get my laptop fixed, have dinner and grab some things for an upcoming trip of his, which required a new pair of swim trunks.
I didn’t need a bathing suit because I wasn’t invited on the amazing guys trip and because in September, there was already a foot of snow in my city…but I’m not bitter.
I went into the bathing suit shop with my husband, headed to the ladies side and slowly weaved through store, waiting for him to be done.
Here are the factors that encouraged me to become a customer:
FACTOR #1 – OPTIONS
If you’ve been reading my blog or have joined one of my free email course (email course #1 and email course #2), you know I’m all about scaling down. I believe too many handmade businesses are spreading themselves thin by trying to offer too many products.
So I’m not suggesting you offer more types of products.
The bathing suit sales technique teaches us to offer more choices in limited products.
The store offered bathing suits. There are plenty of other products one may need when wearing a bathing suit; sandals, cover up, hat, beach bag, etc. The store may have carried a few of these items (I didn’t notice), but their focus was clearly bathing suits.
They carried limited types of products but a wide variety of options within the bathing suit category.
As I was browsing, a navy bathing suit top caught my eye. It was the exact style I’ve been admiring for a while, but the matching bottoms next to the top were not my style at all.
When I looked up, I noticed there were several more top and bottom options in the same navy blue fabric. Out of reach, there were a pair of bottoms that I loved just as much as the top.
Now I was starting to contemplate trying a bathing suit on and imagining wearing it on my next vacation.
HOW TO MAKE IT WORK FOR YOU
We all have slightly different tastes. You never want to try and appeal to everyone’s tastes but you can take a few preferences and offer options for them.
Start with one product and think about what the common preferences might be within your niche market. For example:
- A jewelry maker could offer a pendant necklace in silver and gold and maybe even with a small pendant and large pendant.
- Someone who makes scarves may offer the same color and knit in a regular style of scarf, infinity style and cowl style.
- A soap maker may offer soap in a bar, on a rope, or in liquid form.
This is also a great way to create a cohesive product line (along with having a signature style) and not go too crazy with variety. A jewelry maker could easily offer three styles of necklaces, carry each in gold and silver, as well as a understated option using a small stone and an overstated option using a large stone. There are 12 options to choose from without having to design 12 completely different necklaces.
It’s best to showcase options together. If that alternative bathing suit bottom were on the other side of the store, I likely wouldn’t have found it and would have talked myself out of a sale. At a craft show, group variations together in a secondary display. Online, show options under the same tab, group thumbnails together, or even suggest them under a: “you may also like” or “related items” section on a product listing page.
FACTOR #2 – DON’T HESITATE
As I was staring up at the bathing suit bottoms and admiring them, I was also talking myself out of trying the bathing suit on.
The sales associate was right next to me, steaming items, and my actions were clearly showing I was interested in the bathing suit. But she didn’t ask if I wanted to try it on or if she could get a size down for me.
That sales associate’s hesitation almost lost the store a sale.
Yes, it would have been just as easy for me to ask her to get my size down but I was looking for a sign to buy or not to buy. I didn’t need a new bathing suit and really didn’t want to go into the dressing room, so I was looking to be nudged in one direction or the other.
“Did you want to try it on?” was all I needed.
When my husband came out of the dressing room, I asked him if he liked the bathing suit and the sales associate finally asked if I wanted to try it on.
Once I said yes, I was one step closer to buying.
HOW TO MAKE IT WORK FOR YOU
Don’t assume shoppers will decide on their own to buy, even if they love an item. We’re all looking for signs whether we should spend our money on an item or watching for red flags (e.g. bad customer service, product flaws, etc.)
I’ve tried a piece of clothing on, been on the fence about it and had the sales associate tell me it looks great. All of a sudden, I see it in a different light. My “I’m not sure” turns into “she’s right, it does fit me great…okay, I’m going to get it!”
Other simple statements can also sway me, such as “it would look great with __________” or “it would be perfect to wear to ___________” which get me imagining the piece in my life.
Don’t let people shop in silence and wait for the sale. Ask for it!
- Ask if they want to try an item on.
- Ask if they want to smell a scent or sample a lotion.
- Go ahead an tell them you offer your greeting cards in a packaged bundle…even if they don’t ask.
Online, use product descriptions and button text to prompt shoppers.
- Tell them to click through the photos to view details in the back.
- Suggest items that work with the product they’re looking at.
- Encourage online shoppers to contact you if they have any questions…and make it easy (include a contact link in each description, let them know you’ll respond within 24 hours, etc.)
- Or even set a pop-up to appear after they’ve been on a page for longer than a minute, which can encourage them to buy.
I recently wrote an article on how to ask for the sale, so if you’d like more ideas on how to do so without being pushy or feeling uncomfortable, please check out: HOW TO ASK FOR THE SALE AT A CRAFT SHOW
FACTOR #3 – SHOW IN A GOOD LIGHT
I had gone from “just looking” to trying the bathing suit on. But there was still the option of me not buying if I didn’t like what I saw when I looked in the mirror.
But each dressing room had this soft, warm lighting that illuminated from behind the full-length mirror. It made my skin tone look warm and didn’t shine a spotlight on all my flaws. It made me feel confident enough to open the door and get the sales associate’s opinion on sizing; that doesn’t typically happened when bathing suit shopping.
The store knew that minds can easily change in a dressing room and took steps for their products to be shown in their best lighting when being tried on.
HOW TO MAKE IT WORK FOR YOU
Your products must also be shown in the best light possible; both literally and figuratively.
You should be photographing your products in good lighting; natural, indirect sunlight and no flashes (or using professional studio lighting).
At a craft show, you may want to add your own lighting to your space. It could be a soft table lamp with a bulb/shade that helps cast a warm light. A jewelry maker may use spotlights with a bulb that makes pieces sparkle.
Also be mindful of the background. A piece of jewelry placed on a carpet or a blanket photographed on the grass does not show the pieces in their best light. A customer is never going to store or admire their jewelry on the ground and a beautiful knitted blanket isn’t going to be used outside.
At a craft show, always bring a tablecloth to cover rental tables and make sure it’s as wrinkle free as possible. Choose a color, pattern or texture that compliments your products and be mindful when choosing other props your products will sit on. There are lots of craft show prop ideas in CREATING A POWERFUL DISPLAY.
You can also help show your products in a good light by speaking or writing highly of them.
I cringe when I see a one-sentence product description. Stating that a handbag is: “Green and 18” x 12” is the equivalent of describing someone as “nice”. Not exactly a glowing review or any way to paint a detailed picture.
If you need help with product descriptions, please check out my product description series.
PRODUCT DESCRIPTIONS THAT SELL:
- PART 1 (2 REASONS PEOPLE BUY)
- PART 2 (3 ANSWERS YOU MUST KNOW)
- PART 3 (PRODUCT DESCRIPTION TEMPLATE & SAMPLE)
Handle products with care as you show them to customers at a craft show or wrap a purchase. Together, all these elements will help show your products in their best light possible.
Those were the 3 factors that took me from “just looking” to a loyal customer:
- Having options to choose from
- Being encouraged to try the bathing suit on
- Seeing the bathing suit in the best light possible
There are many other keys to making a sale; you’ve got to get someone into a store (or craft show booth) before you can sell to them and making the sale requires more than one question.
These three factors are a good place to start and if you need more help with your display or sales techniques at a craft show, please download MAKE MORE MONEY AT CRAFT FAIRS.
If you’re after a start to finish guide for implementing the factors that build a strong, successful business online and off, please download HOW TO SELL HANDMADE BEYOND FRIENDS & FAMILY.
Please share in the comments how you plan to try the BATHING SUIT SALES TECHNIQUE.
Hey, I’m Erin 🙂 I write about small business and craft show techniques I’ve learned from being a small business owner for almost 2 decades, selling at dozens of craft shows, and earning a diploma in Visual Communication Design. I hope you find my advice helpful!