Back off or lose the sale!

Today I walked out of a shop that could probably have met my needs. A few days ago I signed up for something I didn’t know I needed! Have I lost the plot? No not at all but I have responded to two very different sales techniques.

This week it’s my husband’s birthday and one of the things he said he would like is a new wallet so I headed into a local leather goods shop to see what they had. The wallets were located at the back of the shop so I put my rather large handbag on the floor and searched for my glasses. At this point an assistant (possibly the manager) asked me if I was OK, I replied that I was now that I had my glasses. I started to pick up and inspect a variety of wallets at which point the assistant came up again and started trying to sell me on the quality of the leather. My body language said ‘leave me alone’. My response said ‘leave me alone’. He persisted in demonstrating the quality of the leather. I left.

Don’t sell!

Japanese wallet Français : Porte-monnaie nippon

There are more decision involved in buying a wallet than just the quality of the leather. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m not criticising the assistant for his first approach, after all I could have been a very inept shoplifter grappling in my handbag at the back of the store but my first response should have told him to back off and leave me to browse. So what mistakes did this man make?

  1. There was no reading of my body language which gave a very clear indication that I wanted to be left alone.
  2. The only question I was asked was, ‘Are you OK there?’ A closed question to which I answered ‘yes’ so he had nowhere to take the conversation.
  3. He should have left me to browse whilst making it clear that he was available when I wanted help.
  4. His next approach was to sell what mattered to him without establishing what mattered to me. He should have asked me some open questions to find out what I wanted from a wallet. Had he done this I might just have been prepared to engage in conversation with him and that might have allowed him to show me what  I was looking for.

By trying to sell this man made me run!

Establish need.

In contrast I was approached by a local chiropractor at a recent business exhibition. The approach was very open and friendly and invited me to try out a piece of equipment. I was asked a few questions and some measurements were taken. The results suggested that I would benefit from a consultation. No surprise there! I’m sure that the test would prove that everyone would benefit from a consultation. There were several reasons why I booked:

  1. I was made an exceptional ‘buy it now’ offer.
  2. The chiropractor took time to ask me questions, to listen to my response, to link that with the results of the test and to identify one particular problem that I wanted to solve.
  3. There was no hard sell. I was made an appropriate offer with no long term commitment.
  4. I was introduced to the person I would be having the appointment with who was both competent and reassuring.
  5. They stopped selling as soon as I indicated that I was willing to buy. Payment was taken immediately but I was given a choice as to how to pay. I could therefore use my credit card which gave me the additional reassurance of the credit card guarantee.

Your customer knows more about their needs than you do!

Clever sales people understand that the customer is the expert on their needs although they may need some help to establish just what those needs are. The clever salesperson also knows that a customer will only buy what they want! I didn’t know I needed a chiropractor but I did know that I had a couple of conditions that sometimes limit what I can do.The chiropractor took time to establish where there was a match between my needs and something I wanted to fix and then offered me a solution.

I still need and want to buy my husband a wallet but I am going to shop elsewhere. I might even browse the Internet. Of course there’ll be nobody there to help guide me to the right decision but at least I’ll be free to browse until I’m ready to ask for help. What a shame, I would much have preferred to buy from a local retailer.

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2 thoughts on “Back off or lose the sale!

  1. Totally agree. I have walked away from endless restaurants, mainly but not exclusively overseas, because I have had a menu shoved under my nose in the street. Leave me time to browse and if I make the right noises and look interested, that is the time to ask if I need help. I recently wrote a blog on this very subject

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