A Sales Story

I am going to start this off by saying that I think sales would be a really tough job.  There is so much that goes into it, and I can bet it would be very up and down as far as the day-to-day happenings.  I bet one of the hardest things is to sell something to someone without them really knowing you’re selling it.  To make it seem so casual, yet informative, and genuine to the point of them feeling helped and cared for.  Because no one, not even a salesperson, likes the feeling that someone is trying to get you to spend your money.  It is definitely an art.

Well I am going to tell you a story from the other day, when a salesperson did the whole thing right.  Not only did they get the person I was with (the person who was initially planning on buying something there anyway) to make a purchase at a higher price than what was originally intended, but they also planted a seed in my head that makes me think I’ll be going back there sometime soon myself.

The person I was with needed a new vacuum, so we went to a local vacuum store–the same place where she had purchased her previous two vacuums.  Upon entering the store, we explained to the person who greeted us why we were there, and he introduced us to a salesperson who would be working with us.  The first thing the person I was with told the salesperson was how much she wanted to spend.  From the salesperson’s perspective, this probably posed a bit of a challenge.  But he took it in stride, and smiled as he regretfully informed us that he couldn’t sell us a vacuum for any lower than about $75 more than the number my friend had told him.  He quickly explained that there were vacuums out there in the price range that she had said, but they weren’t going to be a quality product and would probably not last more than a few years.  This moment kind of lingered for a couple seconds.  He wasn’t scared to put the truth out there, for better (we might still buy something) or worse (we could just walk out right then and there).

My friend then asked him to show her what he had in the lower price point that he had mentioned, and he brought out three different vacuums from the same company.  He went through the features of the lowest priced vacuum, and then explained why the other two were each slightly more.  The whole thing was very calm, clear, and didn’t feel “sales-y” at all.  Just explaining what we were looking at with no pressure.  She ended up choosing the lowest-priced vacuum, and he didn’t push it at all.  He told her that it came with a warranty, was a high quality product, and he thought she would be very happy with it.  We walked over to the register area, and he said he would go assemble the vacuum she had chosen and would be back in a couple minutes.

While he was gone, we looked around the store a bit and noticed a wood floor mop/cleaning product that I thought seemed interesting.  So when he got back, I asked him if he could tell us a little bit about it, “just out of curiosity.”  He did so in a similar way that he had explained the vacuums–a sort of “sure, no big deal, this is what this is” kind of an attitude that was, again, very informative.  I thanked him and told him I would keep it in mind, and he proceeded to the register.  This is when he really showed his skills as a salesperson.

He started to casually enter my friend’s information and ring her up, and while he was doing this he asked me, “so, do you have a lot of wood floors in your house?” I told him yes, I did.  Then he asked me, “how do you clean them now?” I told him I usually used a wood floor cleaning product with paper towels.  He looked at my sympathetically (NOTE: NOT CONDESCENDINGLY!!!), and said something along the lines of, “oh man, you can’t keep doing that!  Do you have rugs as well or mostly wood floors?” I told him mostly wood floors, just one or two rugs.  Then he smiled and said, again very casually, “oh yeah, I think a canister vacuum would be great for you.  We have a lot of very nice canisters here that I would be glad to show you if and when you feel like you’re ready to look at vacuums.”  I’m probably paraphrasing what he said very poorly, but it was very nonchalant, like a conversation.  Guess what he did there?  He planted a seed.  He made me think a little bit, and was so nice about it that when it does come time to look at vacuums, I would love to give that place a little bit more business.  Not only do the people there know their stuff, they’re not going to be pushy.  They’re going to tell you what they have and respectfully leave the decision up to you after that.

Sometimes it’s nice just to go to a big store, like a Target or a Walmart, and pick things out yourself based on research you’ve done online or by talking to other people.  But sometimes, when you’re going to make a big purchase, it’s nice to talk about what you’re getting into with someone who really knows what they’re talking about.  Someone like the salesperson I met the other day.  He reminded me that sales truly is an art, and it’s all about people skills.  It’s about talking, not just to the person who was already planning on buying something that day, but to the people they came with as well.  Did I, or the person I was with, feel like we had been pressured into anything that day?  Absolutely not.  But she walked out of there with a great vacuum, and who knows?  Maybe someday I will too.