If there’s time to lean… there’s time to clean.
This is an adage I adapted early on in my retail career. I’m sure it was told to me by my manager when I was a salesperson, and it always stuck with me. It was typically used when a salesperson was leaning over the cash wrap, or on a table, or a fixture — wherever there was a surface on the sales floor in which they could lean their body.
It might seem like this is a message born out of frustration with a team-member because they were “being lazy” or “not getting their tasks done,” and honestly, sometimes it was. But there is SO MUCH MORE to it.
In my last post I outlined specifically how people shop with people. Customers want to get to know you and build trust and rapport before they spend their money with you. However, there’s something that comes even before that — the initial impression. (Don’t worry — we’ll dig into this even deeper in another post)
Customers make snap judgements about an environment the second they walk into your store, or your department, or enter your virtual space. They’ve usually made up their mind about whether they want to spend more time in this environment within the first 30 seconds. If they see a messy shop floor with salespeople laying over the cashwrap or chatting with each other, they’ve probably decided this isn’t going to be an enjoyable experience for them. Customers want to be acknowledged within the first 30 seconds of entering a space. That’s the total amount of time you have to make that initial impression.
Not only that, but customers are drawn to a salesperson who is BUSY! They will subconsciously gravitate toward you whenever you are in the middle of a task. I can speak to this first hand as I have countless examples where I was remerchandising a floor, piles of clothing in my hands, 4 available salespeople waiting to service customers, and any client who entered the shop floor would immediately beeline toward me. If you are busy… even if you just LOOK busy, a client will be more inclined to choose you over a different salesperson. They want someone who is ready to work and knows what they’re doing. Conversely, if you are busy on the sales floor, a customer may perceive you as being “more available” than a peer standing behind the cash wrap.
This brings in my catch phrase of the post, “if there’s time to lean, there’s time to clean.” Not only do you want your space to look cleaner and more inviting to customers, if you are busy they will come to you before anyone else. Keeping your hands busy and straightening up a shop floor signals to a client you are ready to help them should they need anything. And it works. Every single time.
How does this apply to the virtual space? (Because trust me, it does.)
Your clients and your potential clients want the same thing — they want to work with someone who is busy. They also want a great initial impression. Clear branding and messaging is one way to accomplish the initial impression. This will help a customer choose to continue exploring your socials, your website, your blog… whatever they may have stumbled upon. Consistency across your channels also helps with the initial impression. But how do you “look busy” when you are working virtually? How do you send these signals to potential customers when they aren’t seeing you in person?
But be careful. There is a fine line between you “being online” all the time and you portraying how busy you are to potential clients.
Someone who is constantly on stories all day, or creating reel after reel after reel may seem like they have nothing but time. This person is “leaning.” They seem like they have nothing better to do and are coming across as such. OF COURSE we want to please the algorithms, but there is a balance (and a reason why batching content is so important).
So, what should you post to indicate how “busy” you are? (I hate the word busy… truly, but I’m trying to maintain consistency here… hang with me!)
-Post stories of what your schedule looks like for the day, what you accomplished, or updated “to-do lists” as you complete certain tasks.
-Show sneak peeks of client work you’re completing — but ensure you protect their privacy and information. You don’t want to reveal too much information, but you want to convey the point that you are working. You have work to do. This will indicate signals in your potential customers brain that you are desirable. People have chosen to work with you and you get. shit. done. In turn, they will want to work with you too (or at least more-so than the next person who isn’t showing off their work!)
-Brag about your accomplishments and when you complete projects. Let other people share in and celebrate your successes!
-Post testimonials from clients, this is proof that you’ve done work and you’ve done it well.
It’s hard to stand out in a competitive online marketplace, but in my experience, it’s been no different than retail.
Customers always have a choice. How are you going to make them choose you?