Seeking Referrals and Word-of-Mouth


Master retailer George Hines of George’s Music shared his sales-warrior know-how at The NAMM Show by discussing opportunities that arise after the selling process. Hines called this the “sell after the sale” and stated, “It’s really about the long-term customer, not just a short-term event.”

Based on several measurements, he came up with an average dollar figure per customer that he felt was fairly accurate for his business, and he encouraged fellow music retailers to do the same. He looked at such data as the average number of years a customer has done business with George’s Music, efficient purchases, referrals and testimonials.

“There’s a way of quantifying referrals and word-of-mouth,” Hines said. “If your ratings are low, customers tend not to buy.”

Hines cited several ways he and his staff develop relationships with customers, including thank you cards for every customer, educational events, permission marketing (asking to stay in touch with the customer), special mailers, e-blasts, frequency cards and clubs. With the help of social media, George’s Music has created communities of players, such as a guitar club and a VIP (Very Important Players) club. He has invited community church members to talk with his staff about new products and created George’s Music Worship Association. He now offers music teacher specials and asks them to send students to his locations.

Using hand-held video cameras, he and his staff ask also customers if they mind filming testimonials for the company’s website and promotional materials. These testimonials can be powerful, as they don’t sound like a sales pitch.

George outlined the Three D’s of selling success that he and his staff follow:

1. Define. The selling process isn’t really a process unless it’s defined, designed, and written down. Hines has a checklist of 46 tips that define his store’s quality and selling process.

2. Determine. What results do you want? Hines’ 10-second rule is to give to people when they first come in rather than ask a question (taking). Thank them for coming in. George’s Music staff also use the 2-minute rule, which means interacting with every customer within 2 minutes of the customer entering the store.

3. Deliver.  About 80 percent of George’s Music customers are repeat. Make sure your staff knows customer names, what they bought and what their service or product needs are. Train your staff to deliver the best customer experience consistently to everyone who comes in.

​“Set a different standard that has everything to do with you—who you are and the deeper meaning and higher vision of what you do in the music business every day,” Hines said.