Sales Success - Three Rules

Let's say you have a bunch of retail centers and all those retail centers carry just about the same stuff.  They are all located in prime sites where your target market has easy access to what you're selling. stands out as a shining star with record sales while the others simply do...OK.  What is the difference?

Three things:  Staff, Selection and Merchandising.

JerryKulver use Too simple....right?   "Come on Michael, everybody knows about this.  There is nothing new here."  No?  Then how come it happens time after time after time?

Yesterday I saw this first hand.  I was making the circuit of Hy-Vee Garden Centers.  (Hy-Vee is a regional supermarket group with over 220 stores in the Midwest.)  Over the past several years supermarkets have gotten into the lawn and garden business.  Makes sense...people are already walking through the parking lot.  Why not give them the opportunity to buy something else?

My purpose was to see if these stores were carrying a particular product produced by one of my clients, how it was being displayed and if staff knew anything about it.  While it is a very small sampling one store stood out above all the others we visited.

The Urbandale Hy-Vee Garden  And, they rock for three reasons:

Staff - They know the products and they sell by building relationships.  I visited with "Al" whom I am guessing has been retired from "his other job" for some time.  Not only did Al know about the products I was searching for but within minutes he was attempting to sell me. was all sincere.  I counted at least eight employees who were engaged with customers.  Nobody went without a, "Hi, great day!  Did you see _______?"  No closed end questions like, "Did you find everything you needed?"  They were busy...selling.

Selection - Of all the garden centers we visited this one had the most...stuff.  There was something for nearly every budget.  I'd suspect the inventory was double that of the other centers we walked.

Merchandising -  I think, far too often, retail forgets about this aspect of the sale.  Not only was the selection huge; everything was set up with a plan.  From outdoor seating to fertilizer the displays were attractive, informational and directed.  There was a mix of products, colors and shelf space.   There are major investments in water gardens (in a parking lot!) signs are tasteful and music (soft jazz) is playing at just the right level.  Shopping became...a party.

Pretty simply stuff...but it also takes time, money and a driven commitment to do it right.  These it right.  Maybe because Jerry Kluver (above) runs the ship?  Maybe...but they "get it" and I have a feeling now that Jerry is more involved with Hy-Vee Corporate...the rest of the Hy-Vee Garden Centers won't be far behind.


So, what about your retail center?  Could it use a bit more attention to three simple rules?





Ken Sherman On Bicycle Safety & Rural Road Rage?

Some of you know I do a weekly radio show, Highway 6 - Your Road to the Country.  This past Sunday we had a discussion about bicycles, rural roads and safety.  It's Bicycle Rally DSM 0409 crop interesting to see how much press this issue has received.  We thought we'd post that twenty minute interview here so folks outside of our rural lifestyle forum can pick it up.

You can click here for the interview portion of the show.

Our conversation is with Ken Sherman (you can click here to hear just that interview) an avid bicyclist in Iowa.  We learned that "avid" means riding 20+ miles a day starting in January!   Ken who was hit by a vehicle this past March knows of the safety issues and the disregard by many vehicle drivers toward cyclists.  He and 500+ other riders (above) made their way to the Iowa State Capital this past Wednesday to call attention to the legislature's failure to pass SF 117 put forth by Senator Bill Dotzler of Waterloo, Iowa and managed by Senator Joe Bolkcom of Iowa City.  The Bill passed the Senate but stalled out in the Iowa House where it appears House Majority Leader, Pat Murphy, allowed it to die in committee.

Ken Sherman 1 And, all of this in the state that hosts the largest annual cycle event in the nation, RAGBRAI.  We're confused too..  Especially when you learn the cost to the state

In this interview Ken (Center between Brian Duffy and Kim West who also spoke a the rally) suggests that it is a Rural / Urban issue and we talk about how the Iowa / Nebraska Farm Equipment Dealers Association made a decision to not support the bill (due to "problems of moving farm machinery") to the continued anti-bicycle crusade by the Iowa League of Counties and David Vestal whom we're referenced before regarding bike events in Dallas & Hardin Counties.

Was it a party-line vote or Rural vs. Urban?  We'll let you decide...but one thing, we think, is clear...these folks are not going away this time and in memory of the seven cyclists killed in 2007 and the dozens hurt by vehicle / bicycle collisions this debate is far from over.

Highway 6 Your Road to the Country is heard each Sunday morning at 8am Central on 983wowfm.

Michael P. Libbie - Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications - Thanks for coming by.  You can keep up with us on Twitter @MichaelLibbie or head to our advertising agency website.



The Iowa Sportsman - Bill Northey Tonight

Gnamay2007_160 Time for a little "cross promotion".  I get to do two radio shows here in Central Iowa on 98.3 WOW-FM.  One is about the Rural Lifestyle, you know, small farms, acreages, horses, cattle...the rural lifestyle and is heard each Sunday Morning at 8.

The other is The Iowa Sportsman Radio Hour.  We do that every Monday evening at 7, also on 98.3 WOW-FM.

Govsteershow07_023_2 We've been doing our shows from the Iowa State Fair and tonight we'll have as our guest the Secretary of Agriculture for Iowa, Bill Northey.  Secretary Northey is an avid outdoors person and will be visiting with us, at the fair, about the balance between production agriculture and the outdoors.

If you're a hunter...angler or just want to know more about the link between the outdoors and agriculture come on by for a listen or follow this link to listen using your PC.

Michael P. Libbie - Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications

The Iowa Sportsman Radio Hour

Thomas_and_michael_2 Every Monday night at 7 Thomas Allen and I talk about Iowa and the outdoors on 98.3 WOW-FM.  You can listen live by following this link!

It's the radio version of The Iowa Sportsman magazine and we'll soon be celebrating our second year on the air!  The Iowa Sportsman covers hunting, fishing, boating, camping, biking, cross country skiing and a host of outdoor activities.  What's really great is the magazine and the radio show are both products of Iowans...for Iowans.  It's a full color, glossy look at what goes on in the major outdoor sports.

Tonight, August 4th, we'll be joined by Scott Reed, territory manager, for Pure Fishing.  Scott, an avid angler, travels South Dakota, Nebraska and Iowa selling fishing gear.  No doubt we'll have to ask which state has the better fishing opportunities.

Thomas Thomas has been with The Iowa Sportsman for several years and, along with this radio show, is responsible for a bunch of stuff for the magazine.  That's why he gets the walnut paneled office!

Come on by for a listen maybe even give us a call and join in the conversation.  The studio line is 866-908-8255 or local at 312-0983.  Hope to hear from you!