In this blog, I don’t talk much about personal selling, although in my view it is probably one of the most important aspects of marketing. It’s so important that in many companies its gets its own department.
My wife and I are on the lookout for some outdoor furniture to replace our old worn out chairs. I spotted an advert in my mail box for a liquidation sale of outdoor furniture, specifically for some ‘bar height’ chairs at a very reasonable price. We duly arrived at the warehouse which was full of some very nice looking merchandise. The prices points looked rather higher than the items we were considering and so, after a bit of hunting around, we found someone to ask about the chairs we wanted.
The sales assistant didn’t know the answer and went looking for her boss. A few minutes later he returned and said that the items we were looking for were sold out – and that the advert we had was for the previous week. We smiled and left the warehouse.
I don’t know much (or anything) about the ‘liquidation’ model of this business. I imagine that you rent a warehouse for a short time and then buy a load of merchandise that needs to be sold as quickly as possible, for the best possible prices.
So when when two willing buyers arrived at the warehouse, cash in hand, why oh why did they not try a little harder to sell us something?
Could they not have ventured that while the items we were looking for were sold out, there were some vastly superior items that would last longer, were only a little more expensive and would have been a great investment…and by the way we have financing available. Or, perhaps they could have offered us a discount off a more expensive item? I don’t think they would have had to twist our arms too hard.
The sales staff looked bored. Perhaps a small commission would have put a little pep in their sales presentation?
The lesson of the story is that while a buyer appears to be interested in one product or service, it may take a little probing to find what he would actually be willing to buy. We weren’t particularly interested in the chairs in the advert – we just wanted outdoor chairs at a reasonable price.
Sales staff need to be motivated to sell and prepared to ask a few questions.