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Use Common Sense In Selling: Don't Ignore the Customer

Some things are so obvious that they shouldn't ever have to be said, let alone repeated.

Then again, some things are so important that they can't be ignored.

This is one of those things. I'm repeating it because I encountered three consecutive sellers who just didn't seem to know this very basic rule of selling. I hit my tolerance limit in a crowded shopping mall during a Boxing Day Blow-Out.

As I walked into the store, I knew I was on borrowed time. I had about five minutes, max, to make my purchase. The menfolk of the family refused to enter the store for two reasons -- first, they know that this tacit approval would prolong their shopping agony and, second, they  both experience instant and profound headaches when entering this particular store (a bad reaction to the smells).

Maybe you've shopped there. Lush carries all sorts of fun indulgences for pampering yourself, and all their products are handmade and never animal-tested. I generally enjoy shopping here and recommend you give them a try. On this occasion, however, given that I was in such a hurry, I just wanted to replenish my supply of lip scrub and get on my way.

I couldn't find the product, so I asked a sales clerk to point me in the right direction. Instead, she escorted me on a full tour of the store and explained nearly every product along the way. We made a full circle right back to where we started before she pointed out the two remaining flavors (bubble gum and popcorn) and apologized for not having the one I'd asked for.

I kid you not. A full circle. She effusively described the bath bombs. She pointed out the cleansers and described how the ocean salt variety was the best for brightening a complexion. She oohed and ahhed about the hair care products. Then she touted the deod0rents and made a big to-do about the moisturizers.

I'm pretty expressive myself, so my facial expression and exaggerated look at my watch should have reined in her expansive descriptions. Instead, the more impatience I signaled, the louder and faster she talked.

We moved on to the "wonderful gifts!" and "stock up now!" ideas for face masks and shaving creams and lip balms (there are lots more varieties of these than there are lip scrubs... and I got to hear about every single one of them).

Finally. Finally! She showed me the product I'd come in for and, as if I'd never heard about it, she went on and on and on and on about the miraculous benefits and popularity and use of these $10 products. Only then did she reveal that my preferred variety was sold out.

I left. Normally, as a sales trainer, I feel obligated to offer a word of advice. But it just felt hopeless in this case. And I was in a hurry.

Here's what I probably should have said in the interest of sparing the next customer. No one wants an unsolicited and rabid download of everything there is to know about every product in the store. Ever.

Listening to your customer and responding to their stated needs is always a better choice than ignoring the questions they ask, the cues they give and the desires they express. If you have something more to say, you will earn the right to say it by first providing what the customer asked for in a respectful manner.

Common sense. After all, this is true in just about any conversation or relationship. Why would we forget this fundamental truth when selling?

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Topics: listening, back to basics, CONNECT2SELL Blog, sales, sales fundamentals, selling

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