this stuff works
I tend to be quite cynical of people trying to sell me things – my internal monologue says ‘you can’t fool me, I teach people how to sell things for a living! I’m immune to your sales process! you can’t influence my decision!’

This is the story of how I was once proven wrong.

I’d recently bought a new bike and started cycling everywhere, and as winter was coming I was doing some shopping around for a waterproof jacket. In a fit of complete insanity I decided to physically shop around in actual shops, rather than do my usual thing of researching and buying online.

I’d been in and out of a few shops already, getting thoroughly confused trying to compare options and prices and figure out what was going to work best that was within my price range. None of the staff I’d encountered up to that point seemed to be interested in helping past interrupting their conversations amongst themselves to vaguely point me in the direction of what I was after.

As what usually happens after spending about five minutes in shopping centres, I was starting to wonder why I’d thought that this would be a quick and easy process and was seriously considering abandoning ship, to find somewhere quiet and not so neon lit, to have a coffee and recover from the trauma.

En route to the exit, I walked past another camping store and wandered in. I was here, so I might as well. I was approached by a staff member who looked like he was about twelve, who smiled and asked what I was looking for. He was friendly and normal (no off-putting overdone fake chirpiness here) had a chat with me about what I had in mind and how I saw myself using the jacket.

He showed me a couple of options, but narrowed it down to one in particular because of how I’d be using it and what kind of weather I wanted it for. It cost quite a bit more than I had wanted to spend, but he had identified that I was more concerned with buying something good quality that would last and keep me completely dry than the cost. I left with no buyer’s remorse (unusual for me), feeling good about my purchase.

It wasn’t until I’d gotten round the corner that I almost burst out laughing, realising that he’d guided me through an almost perfect needs based sales process from start to finish, ending in a sale for him and a customer advocate who was still telling this story in coaching and training sessions months later, who was (and still is) very satisfied with her purchase.

The moral of the story is that making customers feel heard and understood, and painting a clear picture for them of how your recommendation will improve their life in some way, will result in more sales and happier customers. Even jaded, cynical ones like me.