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A buddy of mine named Matt heard about a big electronics store that was closing. He wanted to finally get a flat screen TV, but he and his wife were nervous about spending too much. The allure of a fire sale was intriguing. He told his wife and she agreed to jump in the car with their two small kids and drive about an hour north to Albany.

When he got there everything was pretty much picked clean."It was a depressing sight, they were selling shelving units, cash registers and TVs with shattered screens." Even his three year old commented from atop his shoulders that 'everything is broken.'

So he left there empty-handed and went to Best Buy. "The salesman was very good and seemed knowledgeable – but the hardest thing was finding one to help me.

After several minutes of waiting in front of the big screens and eavesdropping on conversations with customers lucky enough to have a blue shirt with them, I grabbed a guy, 'Do you have time?' He answered, 'No not really, but I'll be back, I promise.' He seemed sincere, but that didn't help me.

Frustrated, I finally walked up to the main counter, 'Look, I'm on borrowed time. I've got two small kids that are about to melt down. I'm looking for a 50" TV. I want to bring it home today – can you help me?'"

That seemed to do the trick. Within a few minutes, he had a young associate dedicated to helping him get what he was asking for.

"But if the guy said it once he said it 50 times as he tried to upsell me, 'I'm not on commission,' like that meant he should be trusted, or that made him more honest or something." He went on to tell me overall he thought the salesman did a good job of finally getting him what he wanted. Of course, Matt pretty much told the guy what he wanted, the sales guy didn't ask a lot of questions to make sure it would do what he hoped.

When he got home he told his first buddy what he did and was met with, "You should have researched on the web before you bought."

Matt's response? "I just wanted it."

Here are the three frustations as illustrated in this story:

Respecting their time.

Many times customers have already shopped around and are frustrated, so respect they drove to your store at that moment to buy.

Scheduling too few employees to handle a rush.

You lose all the sales you don't make so staff for the rush, not the day.

Trying to gain trust by saying you aren't on commission.

Reinforcing the idea that some stores' commission programs makes their employees deceptive, makes customers skeptical of yours.

This story reminds me of the old American Express Card holiday radio ads where they couldn't get waited on until the wife told her husband to pull out his American Express card. Which of course did the trick. But it shouldn't take that level of frustration to have someone wait on you.

Think of the MILLIONS of dollars brands pay every day, every hour to get that customer at the moment in the store to buy their product. And then they are met with frustration! No wonder so many customers say they'd just as soon stay at home and shop online.

No one wants to feel worse from experiencing a retail bricks and mortar store.

Look, customers are out there right now looking for your products and services. They aren't all chronically unemployed. They haven't all snapped their wallets shut. They may go out for the bargain but are ready to buy. And while Apple has products good enough to sell themselves – most of the rest of us don't. That's why even basics of merchandising and sales training are still so valuable to move conversions.

Are you ready to meet customers who want to buy with barriers, frustration or survior's guilt from your employees? Or are you looking right now at how to calm frustrations and romance the sale?

'Cause if you aren't, I can guarantee you a competitor is.

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User Comments – Give us your opinion!
  • Steve Deal
    86460164
    Consistently connecting shoppers with sales associates WHEN and WHERE needed is a tough challenge for most retailers. Unfortunately, failing to do so leads to item and ticket abandonment in most stores every day. A good traffic-based labor scheduler can go a long way to at least balancing resources to needs. In addition, methods of empowering shoppers to instantly let the store team know when and where assistance is needed are very effective at solving avoiding abandonments. We've implemented thousands of these solutions including wireless help buttons, price checker / kiosk assist triggers, red phones, and more (shameless plug, I know).
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the Retail Doctor

Latest posts by Bob Phibbs
Bob Phibbs
Bob Phibbs, the Retail Doctor, is a popular motivational speaker and small business Consultant who has transformed thousands of businesses throughout the world with his straightforward, proven advice. His success at making over businesses has been featured on PBS Life & Times, in the Los Angeles Times, Entrepreneur magazine, and the New York Times.
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