Salesmen Beware in Business and at Work

As a salesman’s daughter and a business owner, I’m especially appreciative of great sales and customer service professionals when I encounter them as a customer and/or a prospective customer.  Those shining gems make up for experiences like I had this weekend when my interest was piqued in potentially purchasing a large-ticket item that we’re already planning on buying sometime in 2013.

  • The experience started on Saturday with a flashy marketing piece.  I usually ignore such pieces, but I thought it would be fun for Noah on the way to have lunch with our family to stop in, see which prize we won from the promotional piece (a $5 gift card, which Noah was thrilled to receive), which would also give Joel and me a chance to check out our product choices.  We did not have time to stay long, but we grabbed a salesman’s card and indicated our interest in a particular product.
  • Once we arrived home later in the day on Saturday, I emailed the business for the price on the product as we got ready to attend a St. Patrick’s Day early potluck dinner with friends.  The business called back, and instead of giving me the price, told me that I could evaluate the product further in-person on Sunday and place a bid.  A bit odd, but it piqued my interest a bit further.
  • I stopped by the business again mid-afternoon today (Sunday) and spent the better part of an hour evaluating the product.  Joel and Noah joined me, and we sat down with the salesman.  He had a form filled out with the product we were interested in, and it had a price on it about 40% more than what I planned on bidding.  We were confused, but not really.  “Why didn’t you tell me the price over the phone?”  I asked.  “I’m willing to pay about 40% less.”  The salesman was a bit taken aback.  “Well, that’s too low,”  he replied.  No problem.  “Okay, I don’t want to waste your time and mine, thank you,” I said, with the full and authentic intention of leaving.  The price wasn’t meeting my needs, and I was perfectly fine with that.  I was ready to walk away, and in fact wanted to get home to get to my to-do list, which included writing my weekly blog post.
  • The salesman, however, was determined to meet his needs and the needs of the business, and proceeded to explain to me why the product was priced 40% above my needs.  Again, I agreed with him.  “I understand your position,” I continued and reiterated.  “That price doesn’t meet my needs.”  He then started to explain that the product might be gone tomorrow. “I’m okay with that,” I reiterated.  Salesman persisted.  “If I were to get your price approved, would you be prepared to buy the product today?”  he persisted.  “No,” I replied firmly.  I don’t buy this type of item the same day.  I need to think about it overnight and do my diligence.”

The salesman was a bit flummoxed, but I was not.  I was clear about what my needs were and how to meet my needs, even in my position as customer.  I was clear that we did not have a needs match, but Salesman was not.  Dad’s coaching (and subsequent sales training I have received elsewhere) continues to ring true:  listen for what the customer needs, and meet and/or exceed those needs.

And if you can’t meet her needs:  recommend another product resource and let her leave with her family, so she can enjoy the rest of her Sunday.

Salesmen:  beware of your customers’ needs, in business and in work.  Your customers will show their gratitude with their purchases, their referrals, their repeat business – and their blog posts, singing your reputational praises rather than mourning your lack of needs alignment.

Happy hunting this week, y’all!



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