Be Your Own Expert to Maximize Profits

Here’s some ways to use your expertise — and gain more expertise — in order to better serve your customers and make more money doing so.

Be Your Own Expert to Maximize Profits

Concentrating heavily on things you have extensive knowledge of will make you more successful at sales and make your customers feel like they had a better purchasing experience.

Webster’s dictionary defines an expert as: “A person with a high degree of skill in or knowledge of a subject.”

Note that being an expert on a subject doesn’t necessarily mean that a person knows everything about the topic. It simply means that the person knows more than most others about it and has a level of knowledge he or she can share to help others learn more.

By becoming an expert on the products you sell, you can better help your customers meet their needs and maximize profit for your retail establishment. But is it so easy to just become an expert? After all, gaining expertise in most subjects takes months or even years. 

Fortunately, since you’re already in the business of selling tactical-style firearms and related equipment, you already have a high level of expertise in at least some things. That leaves less of an uphill climb to become an expert on topics in which you don’t currently have a complete understanding.

Here’s some ways to use your expertise — and gain more expertise — in order to better serve your customers and make more money doing so.

Who's the Expert Here?

One way to use your expertise is to sell things you know. In other words, concentrate on selling products that you already have extensive knowledge of and can share that knowledge with your customers. 

That doesn’t mean to limit your selection of products to just those about which you have a high level of expertise. But concentrating heavily on things you have extensive knowledge of will make you more successful at sales and make your customers feel like they had a better purchasing experience. 

Also, learn about products you sell. Few things are more frustrating to customers than shopping for guns or gear and realizing that they know far more about both than the salesperson does. Anyone who has ever purchased guns or equipment at Walmart fully understands this concept.

Fortunately, you don’t have to know everything about all the products you stock. That’s why you have carefully selected employees working with you on your sales effort.

Utilizing key employees to their fullest is another way to build your expertise without having to actually study up on specific topics yourself. Fact is, you don’t have to be an expert on everything, as long as you have employees working with or for you with knowledge about pertinent topics.

This requires managers to let their employees concentrate their sales efforts on things they are passionate about and understand well. It might even mean adding new salespeople so current ones can become somewhat more specialized. Either way is easier than a shop owner or manager trying to learn all the ins and outs of every product on every shelf.

Hiring Employees

The same can be said when hiring sales employees for your business. A good manager knows his or her weak points and sets out to find employees who are strong in those areas, even if they lack knowledge in some other facets of tactical equipment. 

For example, if you know everything in the world about the AR-15 platform but have limited knowledge on tactical knives, their specifications and usage, hiring a salesperson who knows ARs but doesn’t have knowledge on knives doesn’t build your business’s expertise level. But by seeking out an employee who loves nothing more than “talking knives” with anyone who will listen, your business will gain much-needed expertise in an area where it was previously absent.

Another way to prove, and share, your expertise to draw more customers to your store is a remote broadcast by a local radio station. In a remote broadcast, the station will set up and actually broadcast from a retail location. Typically during the broadcast the station will break away from regular programming to do short interviews with the business owner or manager about sales or other aspects of the business. Those interviews are a terrific avenue for you to let listeners know about your expertise on the subjects that really matter. 

Note that radio remotes are a win-win proposition, as they also allow radio stations and their on-air personalities to connect with their listeners in a one-on-one manner. Consequently, it is advantageous for the station to do a remote at your business if you can ensure they’ll have a chance to reach plenty of listeners. 

As more people learn of your expertise, you’ll likely get calls from newspaper reporters and magazine feature writers who need to interview an expert on a particular topic for their journalistic endeavors. In order to capitalize on this newfound expert status, make yourself available to any and all who could benefit your business. 

Note it doesn’t have to be a big national magazine with a half-million or more subscribers to positively impact your business. For brick-and-mortar stores, local and regional publications are more likely to reach customers who are really likely to visit than those big national magazines are, no matter how many readers they have.

Taking advantage of your website and social media opportunities also lends credibility to you and your business, and increases the number of people who see you as an expert in your field. Writing a regular blog for your website gives you an opportunity to communicate directly with customers and let them know about the topics in which you have lots of expertise. Posting those blogs on social media channels such as Facebook helps word spread quickly and expands your audience over and above those who just visit your website occasionally.

Facebook promotions such as equipment giveaways draw lots of interest and are often shared to customers’ friends who might have never heard of your business. Word can travel quickly via social media, so in hours after a new promotion, the number of potential customers who know about your retail outlet and recognize your expertise can increase dramatically.

Another method of gaining expertise to boost sales is to learn about and take advantage of educational opportunities that might be available for you. These might include seminars by gunmakers that they offer to their retailers (whether in person or via video), programs by optics representatives to fill you in on the latest information or even classes at local gun ranges that focus on some aspect of shooting where you lack direct knowledge. 

More Expert Strategies

As a tactical retailer, it’s likely you cater to quite a few competitive shooters who buy your products for use in matches. Shooting in matches with these competitors will not only let you learn more about the equipment you sell, but will let your customers learn more about you.

Shooting a few 3-gun matches with your customers will let you know about the kinds of equipment they prefer and the challenges they face. That can not only make you a more empathetic salesperson, but can give you ideas on what types of equipment you should be carrying that is not currently in your inventory. At the same time, customers who see you out on the range competing know that you are “their kind of people” and are more likely to buy their equipment from you than some faceless online retail outlet.

Don’t limit yourself to 3-gun matches, however. It’s likely you have customers who participate in competitive venues such as IDPA, USPSA and others. Long-range shooters and the competitions they compete in are another avenue of opportunity.

Another way to utilize your expertise in a positive way that could lead to increased sales in the future is to focus on newcomers to guns and shooting. Far too often, beginners visit a shop only to experience rudeness and what they take as disdain from salespeople. Trust me, they won’t purchase anything at a shop where they are treated like that, and they sure won’t recommend it to friends. (In fact, they’re likely to tell everyone they know about their experience, even all their friends on social media.)

By having a beginner’s day activity, you can invite potential customers into your shop in a non-threatening way and share your expertise with them. Even a simple seminar on what they need to take to the range for a shooting session and how to act while there will go a long way in showing them that you are both an expert and that you care about their participation in the shooting sports.  

With limited time, resources and employees, it’s also wise to spend more time focusing on the important stuff when honing your expertise. For example, if you make 50 percent of your income selling semi-automatic modern sporting rifles and 5 percent on tactical knives, concentrating on becoming an expert on MSRs before doing so on tactical knives just makes good business sense.  

It’s wise to take a little time to put down on paper what categories represent different amounts of your store’s income. Then, on the same piece of paper, note which categories you or a current store employee already know enough about to be considered an expert. Such a list will help you better utilize your own skill and the skills of your sales personnel, while also giving clues about the kinds of employees you might need to hire to fill any perceived gaps in knowledge.

Lastly, one of the hardest things for most people to do is to use negative feedback in a productive way. But by exploring negative feedback, those in the retail business can learn what subjects they need to get smarter on to better please customers. 

Admittedly, that’s not an easy thing to do for anyone with an ounce of pride in their work. But as the old saying goes, “The customer is always right.”


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