Monday, March 25, 2013

Are You Selling or Waiting?

I had a recent retail interaction which felt odd.

While waiting for my wife to return a blouse at a mall shop, I wandered over to a jewelry counter. I’m notorious for letting my watch batteries die and never replacing them. I am one of those geeks who automatically checks his phone for the time rather than looking at my wrist. I wear my watch because it was a nice gift from my wife. It’s a meaningful accessory, and my wrist feels naked without it, but I don’t really count on its functionality.

 All that said, it’s kind of embarrassing when I’m asked the time and someone calls me out on the fact that I don’t look at my wrist, so I found myself at this jewelry counter asking if they could swap the battery for me. One of the two gentlemen at the store stood up, looked at the watch, and simply said “About ten minutes” before disappearing into the back with a small tool kit and one of those magnifying glass visor headset things.

I spent the ten minutes in silence at the counter with the other gentleman. Exchanged a nod, a small hello, and then awkwardly paced around the store looking at their wares. At first thankful he wasn’t giving me some hard sell, but later growing increasingly uncomfortable that he wasn’t trying at all to sell me gear. It was actually a somewhat unnerving experience. I’m so used to being sold things, that the absence of this pressure felt cold, empty.

The last minute or so before getting my watch back, I even ran down the things I would be able to glean just by looking at me. Early 30’s young man. Dressed casually but in mid-range commercial clothing (I’m a sucker for Old Navy sales). Wedding band, possibly platinum. Wears a nice simple watch, which is obviously old, but cared for. He has a nice, colorful phone. There’s a notion of style there, and at least visually the appearance of someone who spends some money on that style.

I thought of at least three different conversation starters to break the ice. Maybe a compliment on the watch they were working on to segue over to showing me newer similar watches. Maybe asking me about my wedding band. That could also lead into a conversation about my wife, what her style might be like. Any number of observations that could have lead to an upsell over the $12 battery I was already in the shop for.

Instead we spent ten minutes in uncomfortable silence.

Contrast that, after returning the blouse we walked past a Tea store. We had no intention of trying some tea, but they were giving out samples. I tried two teas, the salesman watched my reaction, enthusiastically recommended a chai. I loved it. Five minutes later we walked out with $20 of loose specialty tea. It was a fun engaging experience with someone who understood their product.

Just got me thinking about brands and the people who represent them. Are you leaving money on the table? Are you excited to represent yourself? To sell what your business offers? Are you paying attention to the producers that hire you? What they like? What they need?

Get out there and sell. If you’re waiting for someone to need you, chances are they’re already spending their cash somewhere else.

1 comment:

  1. Don't know how I've missed this entry! But I completely understand your point. At my day job, it's my job to inform the clients about products we have that are best for their pets. And while, some clients aren't interested in protecting their pets from fleas and heartworm disease (can't imagine why), there are some who've never heard about it, nor have been informed of the medications' importance.

    My point is that you never know until you ask. The worst thing a person could say is no. But if you pitch things correctly and seem very excited about it, they'll appreciate you putting a bug in their ear. And hell, maybe they'll even bite =)

    An important lesson to learn, especially to actors!