Always confront an issue during interaction with customers if it is causing them to act in a way that is stopping the sale. Sometimes salespeople can soft soap issues believing that best to let sleeping dogs lie. And certainly, there is no point in inventing objections by mentioning something that is in way relevant to closing the sale.
But often the sale is not being closed and the salesperson cannot work why. It’s usually due to something in the customer’s mind that has not been aired and therefore not dealt with.
Sometimes the underlying issue can do more than damage than simply lose the sale.
An entrepreneur friend once had a record shop. Charlie was a go-getting businessman for sure. However, like many entrepreneurs, his business success had been done to seizing opportunities with zest – not by slowly over time mastering sales skills. The amount of sales – and customers - the guy lost due to poor sales skills was remarkable.
For instance, you might be a great housebuilder, without necessarily knowing how to plumb, or to craft doors, or how to fit windows. So, you’d sensibly employ people with these skills in order to realise your vision. Entrepreneurs should always employ a sales professional in order to maximise their undoubted business acumen.
Charlie came a cropper a few times, with doors, windows and whole roofs falling in on him during a potential sale in his shop.
One customer had selected a pile of records and had them at the till but he was not sure about a few of them. The buying signals were there but Charlie was impatient. He could not understand why someone would bring records to the till while being uncertain that he wanted them all. The customer just wanted sold to. Charlie’s manner betrayed his impatience and the customer began to get ratty. Charlie, instead of chilling him out, poured fuel on the flames by expressing frustration to the point that the customer lost his temper too.
“I want to speak to the manager!”
“I AM the manager!”
“In that case, I want to speak to the owner!”
Charlie nearly replied that he was the owner too but as a queue of customers was forming Charlie just wanted this conversation over.
“Tell you what, I’ll give you the owner’s mobile number, ok?”
Charlie gave the customer the number and expected him to race outside in a rage and call the number given later on. But the customer had other ideas. He slowly and patiently keyed the number into his phone right there at the till and called the number given. Charlie’s phone was on the till table. It rang. Charlie like most entrepreneurs, always answered unknown numbers in case it was opportunity coming knocking. So he picked it up, right there in front of the customer, and said,
The customer simply looked at him, and cut the call, slammed the records on the till and left the shop furious.
Charlie was a bit embarrassed but also pleased with himself. However, one of the customers in the queue said, “Appalling” and he went and put the records he’d picked up back on the shelf.
Charlie told me this story, laughing away as he regaled me, and it was quite funny. But I don’t think he ever understood that he was undoing all his hard work and creative energy by carelessly throwing away customers with his shoddy workmanship.
By Bob Smith who has worked in sales for more than 30 years, works as an experienced recruiter, trainer & motivator and is also a published author of both children’s and adult titles.