I just had one of those experiences that as a sales person and a leader, made me cringe. I visited the grocery store with my son to pick up a movie at Red Box and decided to take a detour to a shoe shop in the same shopping center. I have driven past this shop countless times on my way in or out of the parking lot and they never seemed to be open whenever I passed. Today must have been my lucky day!
Baby Needs a New Pair of Shoes
Walking into the store with my son, we were immediately greeted by a friendly sales associate (good sign) and she asked if she could help me find something. I explained that as a retail manager I am on my feet all day and was looking for some new shoes for work.
The moment should have given her a clue (a house falling on her head may have worked too) that I might be a paying customer. That is until she asked me what type of shoe I wear for work (still ok to ask qualifying questions). She proceeded to tell me that for about $20 I could buy an insert for my existing pair of shoes and avoid buying new ones.
What, What, What!!
Urgh! Did my ears deceive me or was she trying to talk herself out of a sale? The girl was probably trying to be helpful but the first rule of sales is ask for the sale! By sending me out of the store without trying a pair of shoes on, she lost a sale and worse, a customer.
Was it the associate’s fault that she blew a chance to make a buck? Truthfully, I would lay blame on her manager, as I am sure this was not the first time she sent a customer away empty-handed. People can be so concerned with the customer experience that they forget why they are in business in the first place. I may not have bought anything had I tried the shoes on, but we will never know.
No, I will not go back into the store and teach her how to sell me something while maintaining a high level of customer service. That ship has sailed. I probably will not go in there again. The lesson I learned is that I cannot take for granted that my associates are asking for the sale every time they interact with a client. It is my duty to continue training and coaching the associates to ensure that they do not talk a customer out of a purchase.