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June 2, 2023

Paul Bastean Will Keep You Focused on Engaging Customers and Promoting the Knowledge Margin

By Carolee Anita Boyles

The 2023 NSSF Range-Retailer Business ExpoTM in Milwaukee, Wisc., is a little more than a month away; presenters, exhibitors and range owners all are preparing for another great event. Paul Bastean, Managing Director and principal owner of Ultimate Defense Firing Range & Training Center, LLC, and Managing Director of Heritage Estate Services and Firearms Appraisals, in Saint Peters, Mo., is gearing up to present sessions on keeping customers engaged through both up and down sales cycles and on selling not only firearms but knowledge and experience to go with them. See full agenda.

Creative Event Development Track: Designing Exciting Events that Keep Customers Engaged Through All Sales Cycles

Bastean’s first presentation is “Creative Event Development Track: Designing Exciting Events that Keep Customers Engaged Through All Sales Cycles.” Because of events that take place in American life—political changes, social unrest, tragedies involving firearms and more—we have waves and troughs in demand for firearms and ammunition, and in the public’s interest in shooting at ranges.

“The session on keeping clients active and engaged will provide detailed strategies and proven techniques that have worked for me and other ranges to keep clients engaged through all of the waves and troughs,” Bastean said. “It’s about not just surfing the wave when it’s high, but also figuring out how to keep surfing when the waves are low.”

One technique, he said, is learning how to use targeted themes.

“You also can create different events and provide new client experiences,” he said. “And there are ways to create social engagement that go beyond just social media. You can touch clients on social media when they’re scrolling through and looking quickly, but you also have to grab their attention and get them to think ‘Oh, that’s cool, where is that?’ and keep yourself prevalent in their minds even in the slow times. It’s all about getting the customer to come back, to chase that excitement that it’s going to be a good experience no matter what type of sales cycle we’re in.”

Staff Training Tactics Track: Empowering Staff with the Knowledge, Tools and Experience to Sell More

Bastean’s second presentation is “Staff Training Tactics Track: Empowering Staff with the Knowledge, Tools and Experience to Sell More.”

“What I have found is that lots of business owners focus just on selling tools,” he said. “They tell employees, ‘You need to make sure you know how many rounds this holds, what kind of sights it has, how many magazines it has.’ They focus on the tools themselves, which is the lowest margin of all three of that formula. Knowledge and experience have higher margins, and those also are the things that connect with our customers.”

Clients with limited experience come through the door and purchase a firearm for safety or security purposes. If you can connect with these customers, you can present the idea to them that just because they have the tool doesn’t mean they’re safe; they’re only one-third of the way there.

“You can show them that they have two other portions of that formula,” Bastean said. “As an industry, we don’t do a great job of letting people know that just because you have a gun doesn’t mean you’re protected and safe. You need to emphasize selling knowledge and experience to staff members, especially when they’ve only been taught to sell tools. It’s kind of a detailed, in-depth vocabulary to help staff understand the benefits of selling the other two aspects of the transaction. My staff that is effective at communicating all three aspects of the sale are proficient at creating that solid connection to a client, where someone comes in and buys a firearm and also adds training. Then they gain the knowledge of what they can do with the tool, which far exceeds what they thought they could do with it. The more times they come into the range, the more opportunity we have to create customer loyalty that eventually leads to reoccurring sales and a substantial reduction to ‘one and done’ customers.”

Value of the Range-Retailer Business Expo

The real value of the Range-Retailer Business Expo, Bastean said, goes far beyond just seeing manufacturers and distributors; the real value is the networking that takes place both on the show floor and in the presentations.

“Sometimes that’s hard to articulate,” he said. “That is one of the biggest values that you get from the Expo. When you have a problem you can reach out to that network of people. Whatever problem you have is not new; someone in that network has already faced this problem and come up with a solution. Just meeting those other business owners and attending the educational seminars with people who are willing to share their experiences can save you immeasurable amounts of time and money. The investment that you make in Expo is going to come back to you in exponential form in either money that you save, programs that you didn’t know about or solutions that you find out about from your network.”

Join NSSF and your industry colleagues in Milwaukee July 10-12 for the NSSF Range-Retailer Business Expo. For an agenda, registration and exhibitior information, visit the Expo’s website.

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