How You Treat, Display Used Guns Impacts Sales

Ultimately, it’s the eye, not the hand, that opens the checkbook, swipes the credit card or cuts loose the cash. Buyers most often are not “sold,” but rather “sell” themselves. Don’t get in their way.

How You Treat, Display Used Guns Impacts Sales

Ultimately, it’s the eye, not the hand, that opens the checkbook, swipes the credit card or cuts loose the cash. Buyers most often are not “sold,” but rather “sell” themselves. Don’t get in their way.

Trite phrases like “little things mean a lot” and “the devil’s in the details” are old hat for a very good reason. They are true and apply universally. As much as the devil may be in the detail, so, too, is the salvation.

Nowhere in this business can that be more applicable than in efforts to sell used guns. Too often, used guns are the red-headed stepchildren of inventory, relegated to badly lit corners or other out-of-the-way places where they are presented as dynamically as a barn bolt rusting in a cistern.

Although this can also happen with new guns, counter sales displays and other visual aids provided by manufacturers can add zest to their presentation. And that’s what it is all about — presentation.

Other much larger industries and niche stores in this industry have known how this dynamic works all along. Yes, it can help to be lavish and glitzy. But it is much more important to take full advantage of what you have, regardless how minimal that might be.

It Starts With the Eyes

Take the food industry, for example.

Chefs are generally told by their industry cognoscenti that people eat with their eyes, and creative and thoughtful plating enhances both the look and taste of your food. Focusing on presentation also allows chefs to showcase their creations and demonstrate to guests that they’re getting their money’s worth.

Literally, the idea is to create a hunger within the customer. Hungry people want to eat — in the shooting sports setting, that means they want to buy. As noted, this dynamic also contributes to the customers feeling that they are getting their money’s worth. Talk about a sales double-tap!

When comparing the concept of presentation between the alpha and omega in an industry, consider high-end gun emporiums vs smaller local gun shops. In the food industry, that is akin to the graphic presentations used by outfits like McDonald’s on one end and Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar on the other.

They both sell beef products. One sells high volumes of lower priced products to the masses while the other sells small volumes of higher priced products to a select type and number of customers.

Yet both use extremely effective visuals in presentation of their products. High resolution promotional works of art are omnipresent in both instances. Literally, when the eyes look at their display graphics, the mouth waters and the stomach grumbles.

Your Appearance Does Matter

In the real estate industry, the concept of presentation often focuses on “curb appeal,” or how a house looks from the street on first blush.

“Simple, inexpensive things can make a big impact on how quickly and for how much you sell your home,” says Kris Lindahl, a real estate agent in Minneapolis.

The operative information there is that proper presentation enhances both the velocity and value of a sale. Again, a double-tap.

In the shooting sports industry, stores that sell the highest grades of guns to the richest clientele practice this concept from the get-go. Dark wood and loden green décor, combined with mood lighting, displays the already eye-appealing guns in ways that make customers dream and salivate as they peruse the display racks and cases.

Although that can work virtually anywhere, most stores have neither the space nor the budget to emulate them directly. But that doesn’t mean that the concept itself can’t be exploited, even in the smallest and most spartan locations.

The idea is to use some simple tricks to enhance the buyer experience. First, the buyer must see the guns. Think lighting, but also think background here.

Assuming good lighting, consider how the individual guns, as well as the aggregate of the guns in the rack or case stand out. This can be as simple as placing silvery nickel or stainless guns against a dark background and blued guns against a light background.

Investment Tip: Clean Up Used Guns

High-end gun purveyors often go to considerable expense to enhance the look of used guns. They can afford to, because an investment of a few hundred dollars can deliver thousands more at the time of the sale.

Obviously, when the gross profit is two digits or so left of the decimal point, it doesn’t pay to do much to a used gun before putting it on display.

But think again of turning buyer hunger into salivation. It doesn’t take much to assure that the bore is shiny and that at least the exterior of the gun is free of dirt, dust and grime.

Lest there be misunderstanding, there is no effort here to suggest that a quick cold blue job or something like that is the way to go. Quite the opposite is true.

Used guns may be nice and shiny, but more often they are not. A little patina here and there can give the gun character as it gracefully shows its age (rust is not patina — get rid of rust). The point is that the gun needs to be true to itself. That engenders trust in the buyer.

Above all, dust kills sales. A dusty used gun in a dark corner loudly telegraphs all of the wrong messages. First, it is witness that the gun has languished there for a long time. Second, it suggests that the gun can and should be forgotten and third, the dust can camouflage the noble character of the gun itself. Rather than the gun saying “Buy me,” the message is “Ignore me.”

Yes, guns can talk. But for buyers to hear them, the guns must first be seen. And how they look at first sight literally sets the stage for what happens after that.

These sorts of small details greatly impact both the customer experience and longer-term relationships. That, in turn, results in more guns sold at higher sales velocities (and likely higher prices) over the long haul.


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