Sales Lessons Learned from Godiva Chocolatier

Some clients are more fun than others. That was true for me with Godiva Chocolatier. I worked with them for six years, delivering countless workshops and talks on sales and customer service. They were a great client. Fun, open to new ideas, and willing to try different approaches. Plus, it was a fun product. I know they learned from me, because they told me so and because I witnessed it in their stores. But I also learned from them. Here are a few of my learnings:

1. Focus on the value. You aren’t selling price if you have a super-premium product. Don’t let customers get you into a price comparison with a lesser-grade product. There are reasons you cost more. Tell your customers these reasons.

2. Engage. Engage. Engage. Don’t hide behind that counter. Get out and meet your customers face-to-face. Shake their hands. Ask them great questions. Welcome them back. Compliment them on something they’re wearing. Make them feel like this is “their” store.

3. Hire the best. Compete by having enthusiastic and energetic salespeople. Hire them for their interpersonal skills. You can always train them in the product and the systems later. Godiva frequently recruited salespeople from cosmetic companies. They were high energy, willing to work with the public, and not afraid to go after a sale. Perfect.

4. Be comfortable selling something you can’t afford. One of the first assignments I had was analyzing why some stores were under-performing. Turned out that several of these stores had managers who couldn’t explain the higher price of Godiva to their customers. Some serious coaching took place, and most of those managers found religion, and sales went back up.

5. Be super-proud of what you sell. The most successful salespeople at Godiva were also the proudest. They loved everything about the product and the company. They knew everything about how the product was made and how it was packaged. They knew the history of the company. They knew everything possible about the ingredients in each piece.  These salespeople wanted their customers to be as passionate about the product as they were.

They took their business seriously, but they never forgot that they were selling a wonderful experience.