Working with Customers: Tips from an Archery Pro Shop Icon

Create positive customer interactions and watch the money flow. Here’s how.
Photo Credit: The Hunting Public

Author: Cassie Gasaway

In a 20-minute The Hunting Public YouTube video, Mark Wagner, archery manager at Archery Field and Sports in Iowa, helps THP intern Ethan Gooch get a bowhunting setup for less than $500.

When the video was released, the hunting community responded in a big way. Viewers shared their customer service experiences, and many wished they had a salesman like Wagner, who was patient, helpful and kind, at their pro shop. Don’t take my word for it; see for yourself.

Here are six of the more than 9,100 comments on the video.

– David Stokes: Kudos to that salesman. He was so patient and knowledgeable. He didn’t try to push him one way or the other. That’s how you get lifetime customers.
– Mark Midkiff: I’ve NEVER been in a shop that had someone that helpful and focused on making a customer happy. He needs a raise.
– WoodlandChef: What a salesman. So thorough, not really pushy, very helpful. Would love to have him in my town!
– Dunamis: The guy helping sell the bow had me wishing he was local. I wanted to go out and buy a bow just watching.
– Anonymous: Someone get this sales guy a drink. He’s the definition of professional.
– David Whitaker: Man, I’d love to have a bow shop like this. My experience was I picked “stuff” off the wall and had no explanation, no conversation and learned via YouTube watching slow-motion draws of pro archers.

Hundreds of other people had similar reactions. They liked Wagner, and they yearned for a quality salesperson to assist them in their archery endeavors.

We spoke to Wagner to learn what archery pro shop retailers can do to provide quality customer interactions that create happy, satisfied customers — and leave onlookers impressed. But first, let’s address the elephant in the room: Why aren’t customers nationwide receiving this type of interaction? Wagner thinks some people have the wrong motivation.

“There are quality pro shops out there, but some shops are out there to make a dollar,” Wagner said. “They’re not there for the consumer and for the sport. It’s depressing to see (people saying they had a bad experience). I want to continue to see the sport grow. I take my time and set up customers properly because if someone goes home and smacks their arm with the bowstring three or four times, they’re going to hang up the bow in a closet and never shoot again. You’re going to lose an archer and potential hunter.”

A commenter under the name “Jetski Jay” identified another potential issue. “The guys at my local bow shops seem burnt out and have no passion left in them,” he said. “If you’re new or uneducated, it feels like you’re just a burden to them, and that’s not how an experience should be.”

Whether retailers are burned out or in it for the wrong reason, situations like these create a lot of loss. The customer loses their desire for archery. As a result, the retailer loses a customer, while the industry loses a hunter (and therefore, financial support for conservation).

Give the customer eye contact and truly listen to what they want. Photo Credit: ATA

Wagner’s Tips To Provide Good Customer Service

So, what can you do to ensure you don’t lose a customer? Provide good customer service. After all, it is what sets your business apart from competitors. Wagner shared five tips to help retailers enhance their customer interactions.


1. Make Eye Contact and Listen

Eye contact tells a customer you’re focused, paying attention and listening to what they’re saying. Wagner said it also helps him better understand his customers. “I look customers in the eye when I talk to them so I can read their facial expressions and feedback,” he said. To show your customers you care, commit to the conversation with your eyes and ears.


2. Pinpoint the Customer’s Want/Need

After listening to your customer explain why they’re at your shop, you should have a good idea of what they want or need. Ask questions to confirm their desires. Then, zero in on the product they’re requesting. Wagner said every customer is different, so you have to figure out exactly what they’re looking for, what they want to get out of a product, and work with them to help them find it.


3. Explain the Product’s Pros and Cons

Wagner said to be honest with customers. “Every product has its pluses and minuses,” he said. “I want them to know that ahead of time to show them I have knowledge about the product, but also to let them know what to expect with the product so they can make a good buying decision.”


4. Provide Tips on Shooting Form or Product Use

When Wagner works with customers, he offers tips and instructions to ensure the customer can be as good as possible. However, he also wants them to take a lesson or class, or join a league to further their skills and generate additional revenue for the shop. By providing tips during a customer’s interaction, he said, you establish yourself as an expert. “At some point, they’ll want to be better,” he said. “If you’re giving them information and helping them, they know you’re a location to come back to when they want to improve.”


5. Don’t Be Pushy

According to Wagner and many customers, the worst thing a salesperson can do is push people into buying products on the spot or buying products they don’t want or need. Wagner always tries to give his customers time to decide so they don’t feel pressured to buy. Plus, giving them space to decide on their own helps give them confidence as a consumer.

If you provide excellent customer service, your customers will come back and refer their friends and family. Photo Credit: The Hunting Public

Watch the Money Flow

Helping the customer get exactly what they want helps ensure they’ll visit again when they need something else.

“I’m all about getting the customer into the type of bow they’re looking for, whether it’s a $400 or $800 bow,” Wagner said. “Down the road, they always want to upgrade. They always want to look at something new and better, and if they had a great experience the first time, odds are they’re going to come back and see you again.”

Focus on creating a positive interaction and experience for your customers. When you do that, you might not receive a large chunk of money right away, but the money usually flows later when the customer returns — and brings their family and friends.


Post Your Own Video

After the video came out, Wagner said Archery Field and Sports had an influx of new customers. Some were from the area, and others drove hours to get there. Some were new, and others were veterans seeking a more enjoyable customer experience.

Many new customers are intimidated about going to a pro shop for help. To ease their concerns, consider posting a similar video to your social media account. The video must be real and genuine. It should tell the truth, not a story. Avoid a scripted interaction. Give an overview of the buying process and what customers can expect when they come in. Let the viewer see how you appreciate and value their time in your shop. Posting a video like that also allows current customers to comment and share their experiences at your shop for additional support and encouragement to newcomers.

The ATA has resources to help you create, edit and post high-quality videos to your website or social media accounts. Log in to your MyATA member dashboard and click “Download Free ATA Resources” to access the ATA’s Resource Website. Click “Marketing Resources” from the red “Downloads” drop-down menu to find several tutorials.

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