September 3, 2013 by thesoapalchemist
Everybody uses soap. Or, at least, everyone should use soap! There are some who consider it nothing more than a utilitarian product, necessary for keeping clean, and that’s about it. They have no interest in scent, lather, ingredients- definitely no love affair going on there.
Then, there are those who appreciate soap a bit more. They may sniff several different types at the grocery store, settling on one that has a bit more “je ne sais quoi” than the Regular Dial they bought last week, and choosing, perhaps, the Mountain Scented Dial instead. There’s hope for these folks. They know they want something different, and they’re starting to wander out of their comfort zones in search of it. If they were only exposed to something really good- outside of the confines of the grocery store… I bet they’d try it, and the addiction with natural soap would begin.
But, how does a soapcrafter find these people? I suppose I could just frequent the grocery store, lingering in the soap aisle, stalking people who seem a little overly interested in selecting a bar. You know the ones- you see them pick up a bar, sniff it, place it back on the shelf, select another bar, sniff it, put it back as well. Yes, these people are the ones I’m after.
But, realistically, I’m not going to hang out in a grocery store stalking potential converts. This isn’t for me. I’d rather use a skill that’s taken me years to perfect. The skill of talking.
I like to talk, and I always have. I’ve been accused of engaging in “nervous chatter” by those who don’t know me well. I’ve been asked if there is anything I don’t have something to say about (and I assure you, there is).
I just like to share. I like to engage other people and hear them share their stories and what they think. The best way to do that is to open up my mouth, be friendly, and start a conversation. The skill has served me well as a friend and wife, a commission salesperson, an interior decorator, a business manager, and now a natural soap business owner. A willingness to be comfortable and talkative with total strangers is one of the easiest ways to find new customers! Here’s a perfect example of how true this is.
The other day, I shipped out a particularly large natural soap order. I had run out of tiny bubble wrap, which I love, because it keeps the bars from banging around and denting each other during shipment… Grabbing the first thing I could find to transport them, I put the 15 bars onto a brightly colored tray and headed over to FedEx. The lady who helped me is an absolute gem, and FedEx should be exceptionally thankful to have her as an employee!
Now, earlier in the day, I had gone over there to ship another package and was helped by someone other than my new best FedEx buddy. This first girl was not much of a “customer service” agent. I talked (as usual 🙂 ) about my soap and how I had to ship them out that day, and how much fun I have making them. It didn’t so much as make her blink. She robotically quoted some pricing and gave a half hearted “have-a-nice-day” when I left. She couldn’t have put any more effort into being disinterested if she had tried.
So, you can only imagine how pleasantly surprised I was, when returning only a short time later, I was greeted by “Oh My goodness!! What do we have here??” The first girl was nowhere to be seen, but in her place was a smiling, cheerful-faced lady who actually spoke to me before I spoke to her! And, it wasn’t even the standard “How can I help you today,” but instead, a personal comment directed at me! She was so engaging and talkative! She wanted to sniff my soaps and know what was in them. She made comments about each one’s colors and flecks of botanicals. She wanted to know all about BarSoapNatural.com, how we started and how long we’ve been doing it. She was so complimentary of every last detail- the tissue paper wrapping I use, the labels on the soaps, the name of our company, the scents, colors and shape of the bars. She explained shipping options in detail, and even packaged all the soaps in individual bags, complete with bubble wrap, tissue on top and the invoice.
Because of her willingness to engage in conversation, she made a connection to a customer. The next time I go to FedEx, I will seek her out. It’s funny how I now feel more loyal to them simply because of the experience I had with that one lady. She made shipping a box fun. I’m sure she’s that way with everyone, but she sure made me feel special.
So, that’s my story. FedEx has a new happy customer, and I’ve interested yet another person in all-natural, handcrafted soap. My advice for anyone who wants new customers is to talk. Open up and share. Be happy, cheerful and engaging. Show some interest in other human beings. In this world of self check-outs, drive-throughs, net-flix, facebook, you name it, there are people out there just like me, who absolutely crave personal interaction. Don’t be afraid to talk. Conversation and communication are the best tools we have to make new customers. In my business, new customers means more clean people and a less-dirty world.