Finding the Right Salesperson

The salesperson is the most vital part of the transaction. Always. There is no exception. If you don't get along with the mook that's trying to sell you a cell phone at the cell phone store, do you buy? Probably not.

Interesting story about that, actually. I needed to buy a new cell phone a couple years ago. I left work early with the express intent to purchase a phone. I went to the carrier store (not going to name names, but it starts with a "V" and rhymes with "Horizon"),  The waits are notoriously long at that particular location, and that day was no exception. After waiting about 15 minutes or so to for some help, a dapper chap who was in his 40's came over and asked me a few perfunctory questions.

"Hi, how can I help you?" he asked.

"Well, I'm just looking. I think I need a new phone." I replied. (How many people tell the salesperson that they're just looking, even though they have every intention of purchasing? Raise your hands.)

"Have you thought about what kind of phone you wanted?"

"I kind of like this one." I said, pointing at the new razor-thin cell phone du jour. "But I don't think that's the price that I saw online."

"Well, we sell a value package that includes some accessories." he said, curtly. The price was more than I wanted to pay, but only by a few quid.

"How much is it without the accessories?"

He gave me the price, one that I had been anticipating. I pulled my ballcap down lower over my head. I'm not feeling this guy's mojo.  He made me uncomfortable, and I'm a salesman.

Bad move.

I wandered over to a newer phone, one with a few more features than the one I was planning to buy. I picked it up, got a good feel for it. I looked at my salesman. He was checking his watch. I put the phone down, as he reached into his pocket.

"When you're ready to buy something, come back and see me." He handed me his business card. Seriously? Remember, I went to the store with the intention to buy. I had the money in my pocket, at least a couple hundred dollars, cash. And here the guy was, bouncing me out the door with a business card instead of a shiny new cell phone.

I was pissed. 

I thanked him for his time and left without further incident. Still, I had no cell phone. I got in my car and went to the big-box store across the street from the carrier store, remembering that there was a kiosk in the store. I walked up to the kiosk, and started playing with a same razor-thin phone I had started with. Right away, the salesman looked at me with disapproval.

"I wouldn't recommend that one." he said.

"Why is that?" I asked, surprised.

"Well, we have to replace them all the time. It won't survive a drop."

"Really? What would you recommend, then?" He motioned me over to the same keyboard phone I looked at in the carrier store.

"I'd get this one. I have one, and it has survived a lot. And with the full keyboard, sending text messages is a snap."

I picked up the phone. It had a nice, solid feel. I envisioned sending frantic texts to my buddies and girlfriend. This would work. "How much for this one?" I asked him, my respect for him growing.

He gave me the numbers. Ballgame. Write it up.

The moral of this story? The salesperson is the most important part of the equation. Even myself, as a salesman, needed to be sold something in order to buy it, and I also needed to be treated with respect. The fact that the salesman showed interest was enough to sway me, and telling me the features won me over. I looked at two identical sets of phones at two very different stores. The only thing different was the experience. The first guy couldn't sell me something that  I came there to buy. The second guy made me want it enough to buy. As salespeople, we need to make sure that we are presenting ourselves in the best way possible. You consumers, make sure you test-drive your salesperson. The right salesperson makes everything easier.

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