I spent a lovely long weekend near Tenbury in Worcestershire and ventured out on Friday to Ludlow, “the most perfect town in England” according to John Betjeman.

My first objective was to buy gifts for those at home who had been roped in to help mind the kids, allowing me my four fabulous days of freedom!

Of course, chocolate and wine is your only man when it comes to saying thank you, or anything else worth saying, for that matter, so I decided to check out a gourmet chocolate shop near the market.

The choice of delicious looking chocs in this shop was baffling, in a drooly kind of way. In the end, I asked for two sets of a dozen truffles in 6 flavours.

Here was the window of opportunity for the sales person. Here was where I should have been asked – “Are these for a gift?”. But it didn’t happen. Rather than suggesting that I have the truffles presented in a beautiful gift box, at a mere £2 extra, the saleslady spent an excrutiating 20 minutes trying to cram the chocolates into the smallest box possible.

I’m sure she was trying to be helpful and to save me money, but if she had asked, she would have known that I had not come into the shop to save money, I had come in to show my appreciation to others and that meant not being or looking cheap!

A quick question and she would have had more revenue from me and had a happier customer, more likely to return (well, I will return anyway, the chocolates are calling me….)

The lessons learned from this experience are:

1. Find out what your customer’s prime buying motive is – it might not be what you assume
2. Do this by asking questions – don’t worry, if done right, they won’t offend but will be welcomed
3. Match your offering / solution to your customer’s needs

Following these three simple steps could help you to increase sales and to increase the lifetime value of your customers.

Now I fancy something chocolatey!

Any comments or chocolates – please do share them :)