This last week, one of my newest team members questioned me about using the word salesman and asked why that word doesn’t bother me. She said, “I guess I associate the word salesman with a slimy, pushy type person so it has a negative association for me.” I told her I’m sure many people feel that way and it’s probably because so many salespeople are poorly trained. They don’t know what to say, and because they need the money, they sometimes try to push you into buying something you don’t want.
Trust me, I feel the same way when confronted with a really bad salesperson. Many of them are horrible! Sometimes I won’t even buy from an incompetent salesperson and just walk out of the store. Occasionally though, you find a stand-out salesperson that is truly helpful and knows their product. Let me give you an example.
This last week our dishwasher died. We’ve had these old appliances way too long, so at least I got my money’s worth. I promised my wife several years ago that if one of the appliances died, I’d buy her all new, top-of-the-line stainless appliances.
I jumped online and started researching prices and features. Elaine and I have occasionally looked at new appliances while at Lowe’s or Nebraska Furniture Mart, so I already knew we both liked the look of the black stainless steel. When I got home from work that night, we drove to Lowe’s so we could look at a few different models in person.
When we got to Lowe’s, I’m pretty sure they had the least experienced employee working in the appliance section. That’s aggravating to me when I get to a store and I’m ready to buy something today, but can’t get the information I’m looking for. My personal experience is that I’m usually happier if I spend a little more money to get the upgraded model but I still like to know what my options are. I’d already narrowed it down to a couple different brands, but this kid didn’t know anything and a manager wasn’t available. I mentioned earlier that sometimes I’ll walk out of a store without buying, and this was one of those times.
The next day I decided to try Factory Direct at 101 NE 91st Street, Kansas City MO 64155. I love the store and we’ve bought a few things there before, most recently a new washer/dryer. They stock higher-end appliances so I was pretty sure they would be more expensive than Lowe’s, but at least I might get someone who can talk intelligently about the different brands and the features of each.
When I walked in the door, Ashley Oswald greeted me at the door. She asked what I was looking for and I handed her a printout showing a set of appliances by KitchenAid that we liked. Ashley said they have these in the showroom (Lowe’s only had the dishwasher on display) and as we were walking across the store, she was asking me questions. Questions about whether we like to cook, how we live, what our budget was, etc. When we got to the appliances section, she showed me the KitchenAid models that I asked to see, but she also told me about the different brands and how they stack up against each other. I appreciate a knowledgeable salesperson like Ashley. This is a fairly significant purchase and I want to make sure my wife is happy.
After looking at some different models and various options, Ashley confirmed my thoughts about the KitchenAid appliances that I originally came into the store to see. I asked her how competitive they might be with Lowe’s on price. The prices of the Lowe’s appliances was right there on the printout I handed Ashley, so she sat down at her computer to see what they could do. I was surprised to find the oven and dishwasher were pretty much the same exact prices as Lowe’s. Factory Direct’s price on the oven was $25 more, but Ashley said she could give it to me at the same price as Lowe’s.
When we got to the microwave, she said she had two options for me. The one that I had on the printout was a convection microwave. Ashley said, “I am more than happy to sell you the convection microwave, but it doesn’t sound like you need that. I’m just wondering if you might be OK with the standard microwave and it is $250 cheaper?” I told her, “We don’t cook with the microwave, just heat up leftovers. Honestly, the only thing I really want on a microwave is a button that says “Popcorn”. She busted out laughing and I thanked her for giving me the option of saving money. I really hadn’t even noticed that it was a convection microwave.
I ended up spending several thousand dollars on new appliances in that store. It was the same price I would have spent at Lowe’s, but I felt like I’d been treated like this sale was important to them. Ashley answered all my questions and even educated me, so I felt confident that I’d made the right decision. That’s exactly what a great salesperson should do. Ask plenty of questions and be more like a consultant. She never once suggested spending more money, and in fact, she actually saved me money by suggesting a more cost effective microwave. This just proved to me once again, how much I love a great salesperson.