Post originally appeared in The Observant Customer 6/26/2019
As I strolled up to the door of the store in a sleety squall, I noticed a woman in her 50s getting out of a new Lexus LS also heading for the door. I held the door so she could get out of the weather more quickly. (I was not being chauvinistic just courteous, I would have held the door for anyone.)
As she passed, I observed, “That is a beautiful car.”
“Do you thinks so?” she responded. “I just got it and I love it.”
“Yes,” I said, “it is quite nice”
“Thank you,” she said as I noticed her Rolex watch.
Why do I mention the Lexus and the Rolex? Well, anyone in sales learns to recognize simple things about their customers that might help them learn a bit more about the customers. To me, this person was a person of means.
Once inside the store, we headed in different directions but our paths crossed later again in the camping equipment area. (Yes, it was an outdoor store.) While I was looking over some product, the woman that I came in with was approached by a sales associate who offered assistance.
“I came in to pick up a headlamp. My friend has one and she really likes it.”
I thought to myself that she was a transactional customer with few requirements. I figured a few questions from the sales assoiciate would have her on her way with a headlamp in a matter of minutes. But I was mistaken.
Rather than asking her what she would use the headlamp for or what headlamp headlamp her friend had and liked, the sales associate went into an in-depth clinic on headlamps.
He talked about type of bulbs, lumens versus watts, brightness levels, strap types, brands available, run time claimed by the manufacturer, actual run time, maximum beam distance, red lens options, strobe or non-strobe functions, rechargeable, non-rechargeable and combinations of both, helmet compatibility, blah, blah, blah. He continued to talk puking product information on her at a truly amazing rate. As he droned on, never asking her any questions or checking for understanding, you could see the shopper glaze over and take a step back.
After what seemed like an eternity, he finally stopped. It was at this point that the shopper looked at him with a confused look on her face and said, “You have given me more than enough to think about. I guess I am going to have to go home and think about it.” The sales associate simply replied, “Well if you think of any other questions, I will be around” as he turned and walked away.
The woman turned and walked towards the door.
An easy sale completely messed up by the sales associate. Here was a woman of means who simply wanted a headlamp, maybe like her friends. Price was not going to be an issue. A few simple questions would have gotten her a fine headlamp that probably would have more than satisfied her needs. Instead, her attempt to simply pick up a headlamp was thwarted by an incompetent yet well-meaning sales associate.