In one afternoon at a shopping mall, I met three amazing salespeople.
After many years of service [some might say loyal, but truly, appliances are not loyal, they are stuck with you] it was time for us to replace our stove and refrigerator.
Like all other consumers of major appliances now, I looked online to try to thin out the field of considered brands and models. I remembered driving all over town the last time we bought something big [a tiny deep freeze and a washing machine], and finally ending up at Sears. So this time, we decided to start with Sears.
Amazing salesperson #1
We'd had a good experience with Edgar, the guy who sold us the freezer and washer, and hoped to see him again. No luck - he was off that day. But it was okay, because another guy with a very similar approach helped us.
1 You are as good as the last sales experience people had in your store. Every experience needs to create at least one referral -- where the client refers themselves back to you. If you can't get that one referral, you've got a problem.
It's a fine balance between attentive help, and someone that is so intrusive you can't look for yourself and talk to your spouse about what you see. This guy had the blend perfectly. I expected him to push the house brand -- he showed it to us, but when we said "nah, that's not for us," he moved on.
2 Shoppers are tuned in that you might be favoring one item more than another. And that's okay, as long as you don't go too far. See point #4 for more.
Through all of this looking, I was so impressed at the product knowledge this guy had at his fingertips. Even though I had spent a lot of time looking at things online, he was way ahead of me.
3 Many people have done their homework.They have researched online. They have looked at Consumer Reports. Can your sales staff keep up with them? Can they actually add value?
Everyone pushes their insurance package now. It's ubiquitous. Even the rechargeable batteries from Future Shop can be insured. So I knew the pitch was coming. But when it came, he made a recommendation that made sense. Then he offered some unique tips like this one: print a little label with the date the no-claim warranty rebate comes due along with the number to call, and stick it inside the fridge so you won't forget to call and get your refund. Nice idea!
4 Transparency is important. People have finely tuned BS detectors now.
Amazing salesperson #2
When we left the store, poor but happy, we didn't plan to make any more stops. But we did pop into H+M to pick up a DVD for the evening. That's when we met amazing salesperson number 2. She wanted to be sure we knew about the BOGO. So we went and picked up a second DVD. Her enthusiasm for the DVDs, and subsequent recommendations for other products kept us engaged and buying.
5 Really helping people is invaluable. There is so much choice, that someone who can help you find what you need makes the whole thing fun.
Since we were in the store longer as a result of this, I remembered that I needed prizes for a project. So I bought some gift certificates. This person turned at $10 sale into a $100 sale with very little effort.
Amazing salesperson #3
Walking through the mall back to the car, I was offered some hand cream from a kiosk in the mall. You guessed it, I just met salesperson #3. She offered to show me a miracle. That's a hard offer to turn down, especially when the person has your actual hand in theirs. I walked out with a manicure kit for myself and two more to give to people (you wouldn't want to miss out on the special offer now, would you?).
6 Even the hard sell can be interesting if it is done in a charming way. Use the classic sales techniques, but bring freshness to them.
I told the last salesperson, "You're wasted in cosmetics. You should be in real estate." Her reply, "I want to sell luxury cars." And I bet she will! She had crafted a script for herself that was entertaining and hard to avoid. She had figured out compelling ways to demonstrate her product. And she was charming throughout. I had to tear myself away before she started in on the facial products!
I left the mall optimistic for the future. These three people, working in roles many would consider dead-end jobs, had brought thoughtfulness, brains and professionalism to the task. They appeared to enjoy their work. They were trying to help people at the same time as making their numbers.
It showed, and it worked.