Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The world's worst salesman

When i walk into a store i know what am i looking for. Even when i am just randomly browsing i know the type of clothing or equipment that i am interested in. But when someone comes and tries to sell me the products he wants, or clothes that are in a stark contrast with what i wear, it angers and offends me. I mostly meet salesmen that have no clue how to sell themselves, let alone sell a product.

Being creative and with good attention to detail is crucial in an era where everyone tries to sell or dublicate already successful products or products with a million other copies. Alas, they mostly have no clue how to market an item. It is why me, an environmental engineer, is a much better salesman in a big yogurt and milk company than people that have 2 MSc's or 3 degree's or have finished the best business college.

I remember back when i broke up with my longterm girlfriend i wanted to make a change. I therefore went on a shopping spree with a budget of 600 Euros to buy new clothes, change my style a bit and feel refreshed.

Right accross the bank where i made my withdrawal is a big cobblestone road only for pedestrials full of stores on the left and right. I knew i needed dress shoes, a coat, a sweater, a shirt and a new pair of formal black jeans.

So i started walking on that road looking at the various clothes on offer on the face of each store untill i saw something that i wanted. Note that i was wearing jeans, blue casual shoes, a black rock shirt and a purple jacket. I go in the first store on my left. I see a cold-faced employee dragging his feet towards me. Before he opened his mouth i knew i was not going to buy anything. He wouldn't be able to sell me a Ferrari for 50$.

Would you trust this man to sell you anything?
 "Are you looking for something?", he asks. He sounded sad, like he was beaten by a dwarf in the corner of an alley. Everyone has problems, but if he did, he shouldn't carry them at work, because it hinders his sales and jeopardises the well-being of the store.

Of course i am looking for something. This is a shoe store. A dress shoe store. I am obviously looking for dress shoes. Way to go, best piece of marketing ever.

I am always polite so i tell him i am looking for dress shoes - black. Leather, not too sparkly. There are a few colours i dislike. Yellow and brown is not really my style on shoes. He brought me 3 pairs of shoes, 2 of them had a shade of atrocious brown color and the other one was black with 2 yellow stripes.

At start i giggled inside. I thought a comedian would wear these and appear into the SNL show. Then i got angry because he got my style wrong. Did he maybe thing i was a comedian too? And i was dressed from top to bottom on black. Yet he still did not get the cue.

I was growing increasingly frustrated when he brought me a really glossy black shoe to try on, to which i politely declined and i told him "No thank you i don't think you can help me" and made my glorious escape like Steve Mcqueen.

I walked a bit more and on the right hand was a smaller shoe store with similar wares. I get in and a slick, well-dressed lady starts walking towards me with a beaming smile and a confidence unrivaled by her peers.

"Good morning sir! Follow me and we will find something that suits you".

I was practically sold from the moment i walked in. She knew her business, she did not ask me a question, she did not diminish my status due to my age. And she brought me 6 pair of shoes. The 2 of them were dark brown and the other 4 were black.
"Judging by the clothes you are wearing now and your shift of interest you are interested in black shoes", she said while she was repacking the brown ones. 

The rest of the shoes were exactly what i was looking for. And she picked for me the nicest looking ones that fitted me without even asking my size.

The same happened on the other stores. Sadly it was more a repeat of the first situation. Luckily i walked in a store that had some great looking coats. The manager greets me warmly and asks me what type of clothing i want (it had various types). I tell him i like this coat and he takes me upstairs to take a look. Sadly the size was too big, but he took the Initiative and with good judgement he got me an amazing grey coat that has become my favorite. And on top of that he brought me a fantastic dark purple tie that looked nice with my jacket and shirt. It even had some sort of templar's cross on it and i love history and medieval stuff. I ended up buying both and have visited this store many times since.

See the difference we discussed also on the previous articles? People selling the same products with varying prices, yet with so many differences. 95% of the salesmen had no clue of my style, which was blatantly obvious and you could see it with a glass eye, or wanted to sell overpriced crap just because according to them "But it's in fashion right now". Same things, better presented, with enthusiasm and enough self-confidence. Ingredients essential to make the sale.

Whatever you do, inject enthusiasm and imagination into your work. It will show and it will attract more customers, while it will also spread to the people around you like a virus. 75% of people that walk into a store end up buying nothing because the salesmen cannot make the sale. Or the presentation is bad.

People also complain about high prices. The thing is according to statistics, people are willing and WILL buy more expensive things, as long as they get value and the satisfaction that it was worth it. Compare the same pair of shoes:

  • In the first store the shoes cost 50$, they are out of the box, they look dusty and are thrown next to a pair of ugly mustard-yellow boots. The manager is absent and the salesman looks like the Zodiac killer.
  • In the second store the same shoes costs 75$, are well packed neatly in a great open box in their own stand. The salesman has greeted you on the way in with a smile and he has knowledge about the size, the fabric, the comfort.
Which one would you buy?

The same principles can be applied to any business. It is about marketing and selling your products, as well as yourself. Think about how you could improve your products, sometimes a cheap decorative touch is enough to appeal more to the customer and even make it sell for a higher price. Take the initiative, or consult someone with that power. It is in your hands.

Some other time i will also talk about essays and those abominable CV/resumes people send and wonder why they are not even considered for the job.

Learn from Mike, the world's worst salesman. Don't be Mike.

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