Sunday, May 20, 2007

Anatomy Of A Failed Sale

Saturday was a weird day for me. First, I ended up staying two hours later than I should have due to my replacement not showing up. Then, a certain famous Chicago R&B singer came to the store (which will be the subject of another post, I promise you). However, one thing that kind of irked me about Saturday was a sale I failed to make.

Looking back on it, everything about it made it doomed to fail. Perhaps by recalling what happened here, I can learn from my experiences.

The first thing wrong with that experience was the fact that the customer had to wait. Since my replacement never showed up, I ended up being the only person helping people in my department(s). A customer on one end of the store could easily spend 10 minutes waiting as I help multiple people in another side of the store. Even if I get paged to go to said other side of the store, I still end up bombarded on my way there.

I finally go to help the customer and I'm just about there before a different customer stops me dead in my tracks. I ended up taking care of him really quickly before going back to the waiting customer. I probably should have made the bogarting customer wait. That was clearly a mistake on my part.

When I get to the guy I was trying to help, he shows me what he wants. In the span of a couple of minutes, I start to help him and let him know about the item. I let him know that the item may not be in stock because of a store policy about certain clearance items. He asks me if buying the display would be cheaper, I told him that it would be. Then, he tells me that he doesn't want the built one, and I told him that I would go back and see if the item was still available. It was at that point that the customer stopped the sale.

Claiming that he goes by “energy,” he decides to end the sale because he was getting “bad energy” from me. He rails off all the bad signs: the waiting, the fact I didn't look him in the eye, and me allegedly steering him to buy the display he didn't want. Instead of me letting him go, I try to defend myself and in the end, it doesn't work. He leaves and I tell him to have a good day.

Let's rattle off the other mistakes. First, I admit that I didn't really look him in the eye. That's something I don't always do. When I'm talking about an item, I tend to turn over and look at it to demonstrate and so on. That was the case with the customer in question. When I told him about the bike, I showed him stuff on it. However, I considered this just the beginning of the sale. I barely had time to really sell him anything before he decided that the “energy” wasn't right.

Another mistake may have been informing him that the item may not be in stock right away. I tend to mention any issues upfront with customers to keep from having to disappoint them at the end. There have been times where I'm sure something is in stock only for me to have to recant and tell customers that it isn't. There also have been times where I didn't let customers know that the display item was the only one we had left. This would usually result in the customer getting mad at me or the store. By getting rid of any issues at the beginning, I hoped to avoid things like this. The strategy backfired with “energy” man and it made him feel like I was trying to get him to buy something he didn't want.

I really should not have tried to defend myself. The sale was over and there was nothing I could do. I should've been cordial and let him leave. Usually, I am very good at dealing with nasty, rude people no matter how much they make me sick. However, that wasn't the case here.

One more complaint that the guy had was that I was taking the sale “too seriously” like he was “buying a car” or something like that. He said that he was just buying a “$130 item.” Well, I've helped plenty of people who would think that dropping that amount of money on something would be serious. I've seen people gasp at prices that even I wouldn't gasp at. In my opinion, if you're spending your money on something and you are relying on someone to help you out, that sale better be serious.

Ultimately, I wonder if the guy expected bad things from the sale from the get go. I could've been pitch perfect and he would not have bought the item just because he didn't like something about me. Also, the way he talked to me as he left gave me the impression he kind of felt that salesmen were toxic anyway.

Everyday, I try to be something kind of rare. I try to be a good salesperson who doesn't try to swindle you with every sale. I don't work on commission, so there is really no incentive for me to swindle even if I did do it. I usually tell the truth to a fault. Most of the time, this really works for me. I get repeat customers who come back to the store specifically asking for me. I get complimented daily on how nice I am, how I answer peoples' questions, and for my knowledge on what I'm selling.

I guess this is why that failed sale annoyed me. The one that gets away always makes you re-evaluate yourself a bit. I will probably tweak my approaches a bit but I don't plan to change that much after this experience. Why? Well, considering that a failed sale like this doesn't happen too often for me, much of what I'm doing has to be working.

1 comment:

  1. I wouldn't put too much stock in it. Sometimes a buyer is really not ready, they will make any excuse to seem like they are not wasting your time.