Jenn Haines: Creating Sales Comes Down to Two Things
In this day and age, with myriad options for online shopping, it means something when someone takes the time to leave their house and visit your store. When people make that choice, it’s because they want human contact—even if it's just help deciding about what to buy. Store staff have an amazing opportunity to help customers start or develop their hobbies, and it all comes down to identifying customer needs and finding ways to meet them.
What those needs are depends on the type of customer. In the gaming industry, there are really three: those who are new to a hobby, those who have gotten into something and want to take it to the next level, and those who are hardcore players.
Let's go over how my staff and I talk to each of these groups.
Players Who are New to a Hobby
Those who are new to a hobby may not be comfortable talking about what they’re looking for at first.
They may have preconceived notions that it’s expected that they should know everything about the game, when, as beginners, how could they? Any staff member with a basic understanding of the product can engage with these customers, as long as they bring enthusiasm and encouragement.
Two things to keep in mind as you're doing that.
First, focus on the base product. In Magic’s case, that's Welcome Decks or Planeswalker Decks.
These customers need to know the easiest way to start playing. It’s best at this point to limit sales pitches to products that will help them do that. They have the desire, now give them the ability. But it's okay to let them know that there are add-ons for down the road if they want to go deeper.
Second, use basic language.
A new player will be easily overwhelmed by words like "Convoke" or "Dimir." By focusing on identifying things by color and basic mechanics ("Black is stuff that dies and comes back to life"), you can help players find a Welcome Deck or Planeswalker Deck that suits their interests.
Players Who are Taking the Next Step
Helping a player start a hobby requires a very baseline amount of knowledge, but when helping a player move to the next level of their hobby, you need to know what the options are for that hobby.
These are the add-ons you identified to them when they were a new player: expansions, accessories, and more. You want to let them know that their hobby is expandable, but not make it seem like they need more items in order to participate.
For Magic, this is the time to guide them in choosing accessories like sleeves and deck boxes, as well as helping them pick the right boosters to enhance their decks.
The best way for staff to learn how to do this is to observe what products sell best (customers also like this information), and to have conversations with other customers about the supplies they use and the differences between different booster sets.
Where it gets most challenging is helping the hardcore customer. This requires a lot of product knowledge, because those players have a ton of knowledge, and they usually know what they're looking for. But this isn't always the case with customers who are transitioning into that level of fandom.
For these customers, you can help them make that transition by knowing what different formats mean, and which products are best for which formats.
Like the new Brawl Decks coming with Throne of Eldraine. It'll help to know the basics of the Brawl format, and which cards inside the decks might also appeal to players building Commander decks. (Or maybe even Standard decks, but we'll have to see what's inside them first.)
Don’t have a hardcore player on your staff? Wizards of the Coast provides articles that tell you about the audience for new products. For example, you can go here to read up on the new Brawl Decks and Collector Boosters coming with Throne of Eldraine.
Creating sales for any product comes down to two things: communication with the customer to identify their needs, and creating a comfort level with the customer by showing them that you understand who they are as a player.
Once you have established communication and trust with your customer, they become more and more likely to listen to your recommendations, and take the time to come down to the store, knowing that you’re there to meet their needs.