I remember with great clarity one of my very first sales experiences. I was 15 when I was hired by a shoe store as seasonal help. I was young, inexperienced and had a limited amount of life experiences to go by. I didn’t even know much about shoes.
On my second shift a gentleman walked in looking for Cowboy Boots. My Dad always wore Cowboy Boots, so at least I had a frame of reference. He had a budget, "I don’t want to spend more than a $100", he said to me. This was a good deal of money back when I was 15.
He made a couple of selections and I scurried to the back to find them. I also picked up a pair that I thought would suit him.
He tried on the first pair (under $100) and thought they were “OK”. He tried on the second pair. Same reaction. I told him I had brought a third pair that I thought would suit him. I also admitted that they were slightly more than his stated budget – they were $115.
He tried them on, and loved them. Good fit, great colour and they really did look good.
He hesitated because they were more then he wanted to spend.
By this time, my manager had started to hover and, admittedly, was making me nervous.
I told the customer that Cowboy Boots were an investment purchase; he would have them for years. Then I asked him, “Is it more important for you to stay in budget, because the second pair you tried on are quite nice, or would you regret not spending the $15 more to get what you really like?”
I felt my manager cringe beside me. Perhaps I was not supposed to talk to a customer this way? The gentleman bought the boots he loved, and walked out of the store with them on his feet.
At 15 I learned that consumers:
- wanted options,
- wanted to hear the truth, and
- wanted to make the final decision without feeling pressured.
The shoe, or in this case, the Cowboy boot, has to fit.
Debbie Summers is a Sales Executive with Policy Works Inc., and is on a mission to help small- to mid-sized brokers standardize their commercial-lines. Cowboy boots are optional.