BY STEVEN KING
“Thank you for your time. This is the first place I stopped, and I want to shop some more and compare…”
You just spent the better part of the morning with a customer who is about to walk and leave you empty-handed.
This came up when I recently visited a newly launched, magnificent mattress store in my neck of the woods. The only sales associate was with a customer, so I assured the RSA that I’d wait for him to close the sale. I wanted to hear his presentation, which turned into a futile attempt to close and close and close—it even made me feel uncomfortable.
Customer: “I am confused. I tried this one, and those four and that blue one in the back, not to mention that red-and-white mattress on clearance. You know what? I just started shopping so I want to shop another store to compare.”
RSA: “Buy the one you like best; get that blue-and-white mattress. When I like something, I get it!”
Customer, now irritated: “It’s $2,800, and before I spend that much to be confused, I’ll look around some more.”
RSA, as he continues to beat a dead horse: “You said you like it. Get it—that’s what I would do!”
Customer: “OK, you buy it for me,” as she departs.
A matter of trust
I have seen this scenario countless times, and several factors contribute to the result.
The RSA looked grubby. Sorry, but I call it as I see it. He hadn’t shaved in a few days, his shirt was covered in perspiration, his pants were ill-fitting and he never smiled. He didn’t look like anyone I would trust.
In my book, Money in the Mattress: the Sales Associates’ Guide to Premium Mattress Sales, I discuss several similar, potential agonizing outcomes. Let’s deal with this one.
An effective presentation starts with the RSA’s sincere desire to help a customer solve an honest-to-goodness problem: the customer’s need for a good night’s sleep. You accomplish this by asking open-ended questions that allow the customer to explain her unique situation. Responding directly to the customer’s needs tells her you have been listening, you’re knowledgeable and your recommendation makes sense.
In his presentation, this RSA kept piling on layer upon layer of information—most of which was irrelevant, which contributed to the customer’s confusion.
Know when to fold ’em
When the customer expressed the desire to move on and continue shopping, the RSA should have encouraged her to do so.
“Ms. Smith, I am sorry I confused you. I sometimes get carried away in my enthusiasm to help. Please, I encourage you to shop around.” (You’re not going to stop her at this point anyway.)
“Please know that we are a little different. Our delivery is free to you, and we offer an unprecedented nine-month comfort guarantee without any restocking fee. Our goal always is to make sure that each and every one of our more than 10,000 customers absolutely is thrilled with their mattress.”
Saying that sincerely gives an RSA some hope that the customer will return to buy.
Steven King is an author, lecturer, entrepreneur and sales trainer based in Fort Myers, Fla. His widely acclaimed book, Money in the Mattress: the Sales Associates’ Guide to Premium Mattress Sales is available through Amazon.com. You can reach him at its firstname.lastname@example.org.