Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Professional Selling

I noticed an item in the news the other day saying a local car dealer was trying to find 25 good sales people to come to work at his new location on the east side of Madison. There ought to be plenty of experienced car sales people available.

I figure I’ve bought about 30 cars over the course of my life, and so far I’ve had one car salesperson that I’d consider “good”. The rest were pretty much hacks trying to sell me stuff I didn’t want.
Sorry, but that’s the way I feel.

I’ve had more than my share of professional sales training and have successfully done what radio sales people do: talk to strangers about money. Two things your parents warned you never to do! Throw in the fact that a radio ad is an intangible, just to make things harder.

So I respect people who are good at the craft of selling, whatever they’re selling.

The worst furniture salesperson I ever encountered was in Appleton, a few decades ago, when I went to buy a brand new king-size mattress. If you’ve ever bought one of these monsters, you know you’re buying three pieces of furniture here, two box-spring support units and the huge mattress that sits on them.

I was drawn to the store by an ad in the paper, and this guy happily took my order for the king size mattress. I bought the bed frame, the pillows, the sheets, the bedspread, a night table, and a lamp at a different store. Why? Because the idiot that sold me the mattress was content to make his thousand-dollar sale, and never even thought to ask me if I was interested in all the other stuff that goes along with it.

Parallel Selling 101 - he must not have “taken that course”.

The best furniture salesman I ever encountered was here in Madison just a couple years ago. I came in to buy a $299 chair advertised in the paper, and went home with a piece of paper saying I’d paid $899 for a chair that was going to be delivered next week. I had come to the store with the intention of buying the chair that was advertised, and nothing BUT that chair, and I was going to put it in the back of my gas-sucking SUV and take it home RIGHT NOW.

This fellow told me he’d be glad to sell me the chair I came to see, but asked if I had three minutes for him to show me the chair HE thought I should buy. Intrigued, I granted his request. He not only showed me the difference between the 300-dollar chair and the 900-dollar chair, and made me WANT that far more expensive chair - and then he told me, in the gentlest way, to take a hike for a few minutes while he and my wife decided what fabric would be best for the room where the chair was going!

There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t thank that salesperson for the solid, sturdy, stylish, comfortable chair that I drop my large butt into at the end of the work-day.
He wasn’t selling furniture. He was selling comfort and happiness. And he was darn good at it! He probably got canned in the economic downturn because he was making too much on commissions.

1 comment:

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