The Value of Connecting

Posted on: June 2nd, 2017 by Maria Markusen

Lately I have been thinking, maybe obsessing about connection. The human kind. The kind we crave as a culture more than ever. It seems social media and technology are to blame. Social media is about virtual connections, but we’re yearning for something more. The actual human contact. Our need to connect is spilling out into our culture in unusual ways. 

A New Take on the Restaurant Experience

A few weeks ago during a visit to Minneapolis, I dined with my parents at a very chic, new restaurant.  The restaurant tables were long, beautiful high-top tables where we sat right next to people we did not know.  It was an amazing experience.  The food was excellent.  However, I cannot remember what we actually ate.  What I do remember was the experience and the conversation.  We talked, met, connected, and even communed with the diners on both sides of us.  The same ones we had never met. The ones we did not arrive with or plan to sit with.  The ones we probably will not see ever again.  Yet, we had incredible conversations.  Not just about the food or the Minnesota weather instead, big life topics like college visits for children, places traveled, hotels we liked and the best restaurants on Lake Minnetonka.  That day we left the restaurant nourished by the food and made unexpected connections with the company surrounding us.

Using Connections in Retail

As a sales trainer, I am always telling our students to connect with the customer.  Not just about the transaction.  Not just probing for needs.  Not just for asking good questions.  But to really truly connect by getting to know the customer beyond the need of the sale.  We spend a huge chunk of the training just practicing rapport building with the customer.  Sometimes making the connection is the hardest part. It seems unnatural.  After all, we want to make a transaction as efficiently as possible.  We often prepare our sales people by teaching them about the products. One of my early sales mentors always told us, “If you build rapport, then you don’t need to close the sale. The customer will connect with you, trust you and the sale just happens naturally.  It’s less work and the customer feels great about the experience.”  Connecting in modern retail is more important than ever.  With the ease of purchasing on the internet, we have lots of buying choices.  Without a memorable experience or connection, price and ease trump driving to the store every time.

Capitalize on Your Membership!

One of the great gifts of working at The VGM Group, being a member or being a vendor is the connecting.  And the ultimate opportunity to connect is Heartland.  In a few short weeks our members, our vendors, industry experts will gather in Waterloo. We will teach, learn, celebrate, and commiserate.  The VGM Retail team will share our insights and our experiences this past year about inventory management, marketing, new store openings and the transition of our culture from sickness to wellness, all valuable topics.  But mostly we will connect.  And each of us hopes to connect with you.  Come to our sessions, visit the Retail Training Lab, and drink in the whole connection that is Heartland.  See you there.  And happy connecting!


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