Sales Advice from a Savvy Consumer

I am not a sales person. I don’t pretend to be because there are AWESOME professionals out there who can sell ice to an Eskimo! What I am is a good consumer. I analyze what I like and don’t like about nearly every sales experience I encounter. This may be coming from my 14+ years working in the hospitality industry or my experience addressing the needs of a target audience. Here are things I appreciate as a consumer in a sales scenario:

1. Don’t treat me like I am an idiot.
I may not know every bell and whistle a product has but that doesn’t mean I know zip. Prior to coming shopping, I did my research – whether it was having a conversation with friends, checking out the product online or thinking about the features I wanted. The bottom line is that I didn’t come in blind so be prepared to answer my questions. As a female shopper, I often experience this when shopping for things that are “masculine” in nature. When shopping for a vehicle, I had a sales person explain to me what emergency flashers were for and how and when I should turn them on. To the sales person, the BIG triangle button for emergency flashers in the middle of the dashboard wasn’t apparent enough for me to notice on my own I guess. With information at our fingertips, consumers rarely come shopping without doing some prior research, especially on large purchases – electronics, vehicles, etc. So be sure to talk to them on their level with respect and understanding.

2. Speak in my language.
I know there are industry terms that you use with your coworkers, suppliers or manufacturers and they are a second language to you but they are not to me. Using big, fancy words to explain a cool feature of a product does not make me want the product more or impress me, it only leaves me confused. So it has a super-sonic high frequency XYZ Supertool – awesome! But what does that mean to me and my TV at home?

This was my exact situation when I went shopping for surround sound. The sales person went on to tell me how this surround sound system has a patented technology that is only available in this model. He went on to explain that the technology transfers well with TVs that have a certain connection but is even better with SMART TVs. Clearly from this story, I don’t even remember the name of the technology or what it does because I don’t see how it relates to me. If the sales person had said that the super-sonic high frequency XYZ Supertool connects easily to a standard HD compatible TV and makes the picture crystal clear and the sound less muffled at high volumes, I understand!

3. Listen to me.
Chances are if I came into your store, I have an idea of what I am looking for. Remember, I also did my research before coming in. When you ask me if you can help me with something, don’t start thinking of the sales pitch you are supposed to feed me or the item of the week you are supposed to push; LISTEN to what I am telling you I need help with. I am spoonfeeding you information, making your job a whole lot easier!

If you turn around and start trying to pitch me on the sales promo you are supposed to tell all new customers about, you are communicating a few things to me – one, you are NOT LISTENING to me and have wax in your ears; two, you are NOT going to be the person to really give me RELIABLE advice on the purchase I was planning on making; three, you DON’T RESPECT me enough to actually listen to the words coming out of my mouth; and lastly, I am NOT GOING TO GIVE MY MONEY to someone who does not listen to my real needs or support a store who pushes sales staff to not listen.

Back to my surround sound shopping experience, if the sales person had listened to me rather than pitching me on the XYZ Supertool, the sales experience would have gone a lot different. So let’s rewind, I walk into the store and the sales person asks me how he/she can help me. I respond with my need for surround sound to fit my TV and your response will be, “Oh great! We have them over here. Let me tell you about our newest model. What features are you looking for?”

4. Remember the year and who is making the purchasing decision.
This was a very irritating lesson while car shopping with my husband. I explicitly said that I was making the vehicle purchase and it was for me to drive around. What did the salesperson do on the quote?! He put my husband’s name in the purchaser’s field – not even mine! Pay attention to who is actually making the purchasing decision and cater to them – look them in the eye, shake their hand first, listen to their needs and fully answer their questions. Ultimately, they are the one deciding whether to make the purchase or not.

5. Don’t over promise.
I would rather you be honest about a product’s features or shortcomings than having to learn about it later after I made the purchase. At this point, I am just mad because what I thought about my new purchase turned out to be false. I once purchased a surround system for my TV. I am not a TV savvy person so I was relying on experience of the salesperson to ensure this would be compatible with my current TV. I showed him the TV I recently purchased and he swore up and down that it would work. I get home to put it all together only to realize the cables aren’t matching up and after doing a bit of research, I needed to make an additional adapter purchase.

Guess how impressed I was with that salesperson and store? I would rather you tell me that it wouldn’t work and sell me the right one, even if it was a higher cost. In the end I want a product that will meet my needs and have the features I expect it to.

Photo credit: Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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