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Wayne Ens

The Secret Shopper Advantage


It’s getting harder and harder to get appointments with your prospects. They’re being approached by more salespeople trying to dip into their marketing budgets than ever before.

Social media consultants, SEO consultants, Web designers, CRM (customer relations management) software folks, and many more are approaching your clients and prospects every day.

Technology has enabled these salespeople to solicit your prospects from as far away as Australia, Pakistan, Russia, and anywhere in the world.

All these salespeople, of course, are in addition to the usual local media sales people all claiming to be number one in your market.

So how can you make an approach that will stand out in that crowd and get the appointment?

You won’t win appointments talking about yourself, your company, your shiny new technology, your format, or your “special offer.”

Some of your more advanced competitors have learned the power of opening doors by talking about the client instead of themselves. They’re dropping off information about that business, helpful marketing tips, and other customer focused approaches…which are fine and necessary.

But that approach is becoming commonplace as well and won’t distinguish you from the pack.

If you are willing to be extraordinarily creative and invest extraordinary effort to stand out in that crowd, we have proven you can open new doors and build stronger relationships with existing clients by facilitating a “secret shopper” for them.

Engaging a secret shopper, sometimes called a mystery shopper, takes your customer-focused approach to a whole new level.

Conducting a mystery shop demonstrates effort and kicks in psychological reciprocity…that deep-rooted subconscious need for a client to do something for those who do something for them.

Marketing guru Roy Williams says, “The business owner is uniquely unqualified to see her business objectively.” Your mystery shopper can see your prospect through the eyes of a consumer and present very useful tips to improve any business.

Your mystery shopper’s observations will inevitably give you great stories and copy points that you can use in your creative briefs to produce more effective campaigns for the prospect.

Most clients love to hear how the public perceives them….and the most progressive ones even welcome criticism.

The purpose of your mystery shopper report is to get an appointment to explore consumer opinions with your prospect and, more importantly, capture your prospect’s reaction to those opinions to better understand their beliefs and biases.

Your ultimate mission after opening the door with your mystery shopper report is to earn the right to engage in a comprehensive CNA.

And of course, some of the things you learn during the process will actually help you frame more relevant CNA questions.

Here are a few tips to making mystery shopping work for you…

First, don’t try to turn this project into rocket science or an extensive research document.

Your mission is still to build a better relationship and establish your sincere interest in the client’s business in order to increase your sales.

If your report simply compliments one or two or things your “shopper” noticed, and explores a couple of things the business could do better, you have delivered a huge service.

Secondly, do not conduct the mystery shop yourself. Ask a peer, relative, or friend to help. If it’s a peer, you can return the favour and do a mystery shop for them. You can also do a casual walk-through yourself and consider including some of your observations in the report. But to avoid conflict, never identify those  mystery shopper observations as your own.

Mystery shopping your prospect’s competitors allows you to compare consumer perceptions of that business relative to their competition.

Advertisers love to hear critiques of their competitors’ performances!

You can email Wayne Ens at to request a copy of his Mystery Shopping Guidelines.

(10/18/2015 2:19:12 AM)
Thank you. Your article is very helpful to me.
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- guoguo
(2/20/2014 9:04:05 AM)
Love this approach! Of course I would have to say you should hire a mystery shopping provider to do the work for you- it is well worth the investment because they most likely have "shopped" the industry of the prospect you are courting. Sending in a professional is very important because there are a lot of details to remember.

Mystery Shopping is also perfect for competitive intelligence for ALL industries. We have seen an increase in this area, especially B2B.

Great article.

- Kathy Doering
(2/14/2014 5:25:03 AM)
Stop power-leaning, Wayne!

- Asshole!

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