Well, this post began with an Australian television program called The Checkout. It’s essentially about sales, marketing gimmicks, advertising and consumer rights. And I find it really interesting…
Hello? Oh, sorry, I thought you’d fallen asleep. I promise I won’t talk about statistics or market analysis, but I do want to talk about sales and the techniques used to entice you to buy something.
I’ve worked in the retail industry for a fair portion of my life but I’ve never had any formal training and I probably don’t sell properly. Not in an official sense. There are specially researched techniques spruiked by those at the top of the sales pyramid, and I’m sure markets are researched and customers are placed into categories. Arguably, the best sales people will convince you to buy something you didn’t intend to. For example, you go into a store to buy a pair of black trousers, but you end up trying on the navy while the sales assistant checks to see if they’re available in black. They’re not, but you buy the navy. You still need a black pair though, don’t you?
They will also try to convince you to buy something in addition to your intended purchase, ‘just try this jacket on’ or ‘this belt will look lovely with that’ because once you’ve already decided to spend some money, apparently it is then easier to get you to spend more. Ye olde add-on sale.
So what about the lobster on the menu? Well, everything is relative and the lobster makes everything else on the menu appear more affordable. If you’d like to see how The Checkout discusses this topic with a little light-hearted humour, you can (hopefully) take a look here. This doesn’t just apply to restaurants. If you ask a sales person for the price of the jacket in the front window and they first give you the price of the whole suit, they are playing a similar game.
I hate being overtly sold to. A pushy sales assistant is an instant deal breaker for me. It’s probably why I switch off when someone’s twitter header consists of one massive sales pitch. ‘Buy my book’, ‘view my website’, ‘I’m awesome’, ‘I can make you awesome’… at which point I don’t care. What might entice me to learn more or click on your link or read your book is a little bit of honesty and heart and something that reveals a little bit of you.
So, what do I like to see in a sales person? Welcoming, polite and pleasant to make the customer feel at ease. It’s really important be able to read people. Some customers have a back-off vibe, others want you to accost them as they enter and sales people need to know the difference. It’s also advisable to recognise personal space and when someone is bristling at your very presence. The best people in sales (in my opinion) offer their clients a happy experience – even if they walk out with nothing they would happily shop with you again.
Please share your retail experiences.
Name your lobster.