I do like it when I get a reminder of b2b selling traps in a retail environment.
On the same day of shopping, I encountered these two different examples.
First, a bubbly young lady in a smart shirt shop.
As soon as I walked in to her empty store, she asked me if she could help.
Never a good start to an Englishman.
Still, I said yes, I was indeed after a work shirt.
I was then faced with a barrage of questions.
Collar size, fit type, sleeve length, collar style…
Please just show me the shirts!
The merchandising – like most shops of its ilk – display by collar size.
She was trying to be extra helpful with all the other stuff, but it was a frustration.
My twin chief criteria were double-cuff and unusual pattern.
On the former, I was advised I’d just have to sift through.
With the latter, I couldn’t help but mention that everything was boringly just blues, whites or pinks. Anything slightly different, maybe yellows, greens? No.
My disappointment must have been obvious. She nattered nicely on.
‘When we get shirts in like that they sell straight away. I’m always telling them they need to get different colours. I’d love to be in the design department at head office…’
The exchange may have ultimately been doomed due to the lack of anything matching my ideal, yet the point at which it all went south was pretty much from the off, through bombardment of the checklist.
I do wonder how shop assistants are trained. The awful “can I help you” seeps everywhere.
Moving on from the debate about how you frame that vital first question – and can it really be true that American store servers will ask way more things than their English counterparts – there’s plenty of options to ensure you give yourself a chance of not hearing the dreaded “just looking thanks” nor antagonising the shopper. “What you hoping to find today?” is still usually preferable to “just shout if you need any help”.
At one stage I was uncertain whether my requirements were really being understood. I yearned to hear a question that uncovered this further. “What kind do you like in your wardrobe already?” I could have opened up with design examples or brands.
Anyway, the point is simple. Don’t lead off asking questions to a product spec checklist.
Then I met Ben. He works at a golf shop. I needed to make a distress purchase, being required to play a cheeky round yet being some distance apart from my golf shoes.
Ben did ask if he should pop the box on the counter so I cold browse some more. Whilst not necessary, I thought I’d test his mettle.
“Hmmm. What’s the latest must-have golf trend I must buy?”
Ben mumbled straight back.
Nothing? Wow. He then picked up on one comment I’d made earlier when he rushed into the silent space I left for him;
“Nothing since the Taylor Made white head drivers from a couple of years ago.”
You simply have to know the latest trend must-have and be able to recommend it.
Every company has something at the very least relatively new. Every sector pretty much has a latest trend, and one upon which each vendor is likely to be, at worst piggybacking, at best leading.
I trust you know yours.