Most Sales People Still Don’t Get It

Recently my wife and I went out to buy a washing machine. We really had no choice and couldn’t wait. The old one broke after 20 years. The need was imperative. So we went through the very same experience that virtually every buyer goes through as we shopped for exactly the right appliance to meet our needs. Ultimately, with alot of research and effort. we were able to find a product that met our needs at a value that made sense for us.

But virtually all of the sales people we spoke with were absolutely useless and, as a result, failed to gain our sale.

Let me describe our experience. It will ring familiar. And they were serial experiences in several showrooms, so it wasn’t simply one bad dealer. It was almost universal.

We walk into the appliance showroom. We are ignored for a while as we wander around looking at various appliances. Maybe their sales manager taught them to do that on purpose. It was certainly a universal experience.

Ultimately, a sales rep comes up and asks, “Can I help you?”

“We’re interested in a washing machine”, we say.

What comes next?

“Let me show you the models we have.” “This one has the fastest spin cycle in the industry.” “This one is the most energy efficient washer on the planet.” “This one is best on gentle fabrics, and this one.....”

Not once did any of them ask us simple, relationship building, helpful, guiding questions like...

  • Do you already have a washing machine?
  • What kind?
  • How long have you had it?
  • What did you like about it?
  • Why are you looking to replace it now?
  • How important to you is replacing it immediately?
  • How frequently is it used?
  • How big is your family (kids)?
  • Do your kids play sports or get very dirty?
  • Do you wash your dress shirts or send them to the cleaners?
  • How is it used (colors/whites/shirts/heavy dirt)?
  • How important to you is energy efficiency?

How much were you looking to spend? (Well this one they do ask, but way down the road)

You get the drift.

If they simply took the time to ask us these questions BEFORE they overhelm us with 30 different makes and models, most of which we have no interest in, they could close the sale in a flash. We could have saved hours of comparison research, and they would have gained a loyal, long-term appliance customer.

But, no. They chose reflexively to inundate us with a never-ending list of features and benefits,presumably as a way of differentiating each product. Wow! It felt like it went on for a mind-numbing lifetime.

Of course, that robotic approach lead to the inevitable ending that every salesperson has heard, in one form or another more than once until, of course, they gain the requisite insight to mitigate it: “Do you have any brochures? We’d like to review them, think about it, and get back to you.”

By the way, we also went car shopping. That was even more fun.

When will they ever learn?

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