The art of non-selling

A few years back I was visiting Barcelona with my american boyfriend at the time. Kirk (that is his name) decided to go to a big department store to get some shirts. We were visiting the city as tourist, so our clothing were quite comfortable to walk the streets. AS expected, the guy didn´t know any other language but English, so we spoke in that language. While we were looking for shirts for him, two sellers scanned us from top to bottom and criticised us in Spanish the way we were dressed… In the meantime I was speaking with Kirk in English, discusing what garment was better or not… At the end, he decided to buy two shirts. I got closer to these two sellers and asked in Spanish if there were bigger sizes… Their faces turned sheet white: I understood them! I imagine that they would have liked to be eaten by a dinosaur right away. They were lucky and at the end the shirts were bought, despite their behaviour… I think the lesson was learned: do not criticise anyone in public.
The opposite happened in a very expensive shoe store. The day that I decided to get in I was wearing some jeans, comfortable shoew and a regular T-shirt. I never felt I was scanned by the sellers: they were always very attentive and I finally bought a pair of shoes: the most expensive ones ever. It was a great investment.
The other day I went with a friend to a very exclusive shop. I wanted to check if they had a dress for my daughter for a very special family ocasión: my wedding with my actual partner. I was going to have my dress custom made for me, so I wasn´t worried about my own dress. My friend, her 3-year-old daughter, my daughter and I got in. Venus stayed outside, as always. The two sellers that were on the shop were talking on the phone. In the meantime, we decided to take a look at what they had on the shelves. We were looking for clothes for more than ten minutes and nobody else had entered the place. When we finished waiting for them to be attended (no one hanged up the phone), we saw that there was nothing we really liked and decided to leave, I told my friend: “Let´s go, we can go to the city and check out some more shops…”. We were about to leave the premises and the lady decided to hang up to check what we wanted. When I told her that it was for my wedding, she asked for my dress. When I told her how everything was developing, she threw up her arms and told me that everything was a mistake. She wouldn´t stop arguing her motives to tell me how wrong I was doing. My friend seemed to join the party and asked me to try one of the dresses the seller was offering me: I saw my friend with a lamb that goes to the slaughter house. I didn´t understand a thing: didn´t my friend notice that I just wanted to flee away from there? I try the dress that wasn´t my style whatsoever. The seller didn´t stop telling me how nice it looked on me. She didn´t want to hear nothing about what I liked: her criteria was the only one valid. At the end we stirred the place one hour and a half and we bought nothing. According to my friend, they deserve it… and I couldn´t agree more.
What was wrong?:
– Judging your prospective clients by their looks before they open their mouths. In the worst of cases the client can get angry at you and your store and leave the premises without buying a thing… no matter if they have a Golden Visa.
– Do not pay attention to your prospective client that comes and visits you, even for a minute. If someone visits your store, you have to stop what you are doing, because clients are number one reason of your existence: they feed you.
– Do not listen to your prospective clients in their preferences. Imposing your criteria over theirs is not very clever. Your clients need to express themselves to tell what they expect, so you can deliver.
– Trying to convice your clients that everything that they have done is wrong, that your decisions are the only ones valid. The best thing to do is trying to persuade them with some psychology, so they can understand your point of view… maybe you could get that they change their minds and buy.
– Trying to convince your prospective clients to change their point of view by criticising everything that they thinkg say or do, even when they have clear ideas (even when you think that they are confused). What you get with this attitude is that the prospective clients leave the store quite angry and willing to write on a blog how badly they were treated by you.
– Hurrying prospective clients to make their minds up, even when it´s more than evident that they won´t be a prospective client anymore and become an unsatisfied person because the way they were treated. You don´t have to look desperate to sell: you have to give your prospective client some room. Maybe they don´t buy a thing on their first visit but it´s more than probable that they would require your services eventually.
First of all, what you have to do is listening to your prospective client: by knowing what they want, you have a unique opportunity to make them understand that what you offer is what they really need. If you don´t listen, your company is lost: you can spend money in advertising and attract people but your attitude will scare them away.
(First published on on April 5th 2012)

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