Customers are Gifts

 

What’s it like to do business with you? Ever ask? How often do you imagine what it’s like to be in your customers’ shoes? Not often I bet. Instead, and we’ve all done it, we complain about them. Their indecision, repetitive questions, and struggles frustrate us. When we try to help and they don’t return calls, our patience wears thin. If we are tired or wired we might even feel justified and unloved. If it’s a really bad day, we vent with friends and talk about how hard business is.

This is all normal. Human interactions are complicated. How can we bless customers and their imperfections when we aren’t feeling it? What gets in the way is our fantasy about the perfect client. They should be easy, never doubt you, pay early, always be on time, be super grateful and tell all their friends about you. But it’s not like that all the time.

Last night as I sat at Maria’s Kitchen getting to know a super-successful businesswoman who has a number of employees, she brought it all home. Her reps and designers gripe when the customers are impatient, need an overnight turn-around, turn in material that is sized wrong and needs tweaking. While it’s frustrating, she reminds them to be grateful for the annoyances. If they didn’t have those needs, they’d do business with an on-line company with no customer service. Those customers pay their salaries.

I am not suggesting that you endure abuse. I am saying that you are needed. You are a midwife of change. It’s your job to listen deeply and take people from indecision and fear and make it simple and easy for them to get through it. That’s what you are paid to do. Besides that, customers can be a great personal growth class. Stalk yourself and notice how you act with customers and would be clients. Do you go cold when they get needy? Are you compassionate and understanding? You must be able to go into the eye of the storm with people and lead them through chaos to calm. Customers are great mirrors and teachers. The irritants provide the greatest lessons and the hardest to satisfy teach you to disqualify and disconnect faster or love them a bunch more. And when the rare easy one comes along, I call it grace!

The Seamless Upsell

 

Here’s a real story about a satisfying buying experience my husband and I had last week. I am sharing this story because too many sellers think prospects don’t want to buy. The truth is: we don’t like being sold to. There’s a big difference between the two. You’ll see what I mean.

My husband was invited to an awards ceremony dinner two days before the event. He didn’t have a suit. With 24 hours till the event, this wife had to come up with a solution. He hates shopping, would need to have the suit altered and didn’t want to spend a bundle to look great. I remembered seeing a sign for The 3 Day Suit shop. Checking the website I found they were open, so we drove over. The sign said “2 suits for $200″. I thought, “Yikes!” I figured Macy’s was nearby, just in case.

Inside there were racks of suits, shelves filled with shirts and shoes and several well-dressed men and young model-looking sellers gathered around the cash register. Out of nowhere a very modestly dressed middle-aged woman approached us smiling. She asked what he was looking for and brought us to the $500 suit section and had him try on a blazer. She pointed out the cool stitching on the lapels. Though he looked and felt great, it was more than he wanted to pay for something he’d wear once. Without hesitation she pulled out a suit for $200 that looked almost as great. Watching our positive reactions, she kept on. Within 15 minutes, she had led him to the fitting room, brought in a shirt and grabbed a pair of shoes so he could see the whole look. It was perfect. While he was in the dressing room, she arranged for the tailor to come over to assess. A smart assumptive move. The tailor said he could hem the pants by the next day.

On the way to the cashier, our sales clerk showed us the new ties that just arrived. Why not? Besides the suit she built a nice little sale in about 30 minutes. Suit, shirt and dress socks – all well coordinated for around $300. And yes, the next day it was all ready to go.

Here’s the moral of the sales story. Sometimes crappy looking places have surprises inside. For a seller, here’s the reality:

1) You can be any age and sell well.
2) Be willing to start high because you can always come down.
3) Act with quiet confidence, make certain assumptions and serve buyers’ needs.
4) Make buying simple and exceed expectations or at the very least surprise customers.

In the end, Russell enjoyed spending money on something he didn’t really want but had a need for. He found a new place to shop and he told countless people just how pleasant the experience was. Will he return? That’s a no brainer.

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