In sales, I’ve always found that experiences from our lives can be translated into our selling approach. Taking and learning from what we like as well as realizing and adapting from situations that don’t go the way we want them to. I recently had the opportunity to see things from our client’s point of view. Our family purchased a new home. One of the many updates it required was converting the useless space previously known as a front sitting room into an office. The solution was simple; the two doorways required a pair of French doors. Because the doorways were both curved it required more than a trip to Home Depot. They needed to be custom made to fit the arch in the doorways. When it comes to making a purchase, especially a subject I know absolutely NOTHING about, I like to get three quotes. I found it interesting that of the three quotes we received, each salesman’s approach was extremely different.
Salesman #1 “The Know-It-All”: Showed up early. Too early. As in, I wasn’t expecting him for another few hours and trying to make my kids dinner early. I politely explained to him that due to his efforts to be early, (too early), he was going to have to wait while my children were served their dinner because rescheduling was NOT going to happen, according to him. As I explained what I thought were simple, straightforward directions he kept talking over me, correcting my layman’s terms to industry language, letting me know why I didn’t want the doors opening a certain way, how they would not look good if I kept them a natural hardwood versus painting them. When I asked about providing a couple of options, so I had something to compare pricewise, he rolled his eyes. “I know which one you’ll end up picking and THAT is the quote I’m giving you. Doing any others is a waste of time,” was the reply.
The Verdict: By trying to impress me by being early he inconvenienced me. By constantly talking over me, I felt like he did not listen at all. You can educate a client without making them feel stupid. In the past, when bringing on new clients I have had to offer comparison quotes such as advance warehouse versus shipping direct to show site or show to show versus shipping back to the client’s office. I understand in doing this, by giving my clients the options on paper, it helps them to: a. Learn to trust my decision making and b. Make an educated decision.
Salesman #2 “The Buddy”: I really had high hopes for this guy. Building a rapport is important in a business relationship and the words flowed out of his mouth like melting butter on warm bread. He made the process sound so easy; I snapped a couple pictures & texted them to his cell. He promised he would stop by over the next few days to grab the dimensions, and I’d have my quote.
The Verdict: He never stopped by. To his credit he did call after 4 days and apologized, but he’d gotten busy and would not be able to stop by after all because of all the work he suddenly had to do. Suddenly the dimensions were not important, he could send me pricing. Everything on the quote was incorrect. I’d already decided in my mind he had been the frontrunner because he had been so polite and friendly. He had invested all this time building the rapport, but apparently had not written down the details. The lack of follow-up lost him the sale.
Salesman #3 “Under-promise to Overdeliver”
This was a different experience than #1 & #2. Bert called me midday to explain he was in my area & could still keep the evening appointment, but asked if I was available over lunch if it would be ok for him to stop by early? He also let me know what to expect during the appointment and if I had any questions even afterwards to give him a call or email. When he showed up he took down all the dimensions and we discussed a couple of different options. I stumbled my way through trying to use the industry terms Salesman #1 had involuntarily educated me with. He smiled and assured me my everyday wording was fine. After I explained what I wanted, he reviewed everything to ensure he understood what I was looking for & even drew up a quick sketch to show what the doors would look like. He also asked me if I had considered a couple of options that would save some money and still look great? He also let me know when I could expect to receive my quote, a ballpark for production, and installation time so I could plan accordingly.
The Verdict: Ding, ding, ding! We have a winner. Bert was a perfect balance of knowledge and rapport building. After providing the estimate within the time promised, he followed-up to ensure I’d received it, and we reviewed the paperwork together. He thanked me for my business and invited me to keep him in mind for other doors or window replacement down the road. He also recalled a comment I’d made about wanting a bench for the front entryway and sent me a link on a piece he had happened to notice online that would work perfectly. The fact that he had listened that much and took the time to pass along that information, left a great lasting impression.
I am thankful for the experience. It reminded me about the core details in sales; follow-up, rapport, professionalism.