When you are shopping for clothes, how do you like to shop? Have someone help you select what might work or potter around on your own? Personally I prefer to wander around on my own and check stuff out.
To me there is nothing worse than an assistant hovering at my every move, maybe throwing in a comment or two at an item I am showing some interest in.
I was reminded of this recently when shopping with a friend who was looking for something to wear for an upcoming wedding. We had no luck at the first store but then moved on to another where there was a wider choice available.
Now my friend likes to be helped and there the assistant, Renata, was most attentive, selecting clothing she thought might work and really listening to my friend’s likes and dislikes. Now we were there for some time, as my friend tried on numerous outfits, narrowing it down to a few choices.
However, then the manager came over and started to apply pressure – both on Renata and my friend, and started to argue with us about items already rejected. I could see this was not going down well, but clearly the manager felt it was time to close the deal. Wrong move.
That’s the challenge with sales – it is a fine line between being helpful and being pushy. The manager was being pushy and her interference was not appreciated. Fortunately a phone call came in for her, and she left the scene.
Just as well, as if she’d kept up the barrage of comments meant to “force” my friend to make the purchase, we would likely have walked out the store empty-handed.
It actually reminded me of a time when, as a teenager, I worked in a shoe store. Their rule was that if, after a certain amount of time, the person had not made a purchase, you were to call in the manager as back up to close the deal. It was my first taste of the world of commerce.
The key I think is to respect the customer. Usually they know what they like and want, what they have at home and what their budget is around the purchase. When you just see the customer as a sale, as money in your pocket then you’ve crossed that line. It is the respect for the individual that matters, not your sales figures for the week.
My sense is when you do your job well, when you listen to your customer, no matter what you are selling, then you are more likely to make the sale.
It’s like when we have speakers come to talk at a Company of Women meeting, we ask for no sales pitches. Sadly not everyone remembers that, but my premise is that if you’ve impressed your audience, they will seek you out if they need your services, so the hard sell is not necessary, nor frankly professional.
Pushy sales tactics can backfire on you as this manager might have found out, plus who would rush back for a repeat experience?
Renata on the other hand, earned her salary that day and we left the store mission accomplished.