Sellers must be good advisors if the customer is to make an effective king

New Year new things they say. And for the progressive salesperson, New Year, new opportunity to learn from the goings-on this season.

This season some things will remain the same. From tomorrow, just like last year and all the years before it, like the exodus out of Egypt, families will troop back into the city most from their rural homes. In true Kenyan fashion the bookshops will be clogged this coming weekend with parents doing back to school shopping. Forget that schools were closed early November and the parents have had two months to shop. The customer’s habits are not for the salesperson to judge but for him to work with.

Bookshops and school uniform sales outlets are acutely aware of this annual ritual and have increased their staff complement to meet this tidal wave of humanity about to hit their stores. Some uniform outlets have learnt to make life easy for the customer. They long ago liaised with the respective school and have already labeled the uniform with the name of the school. All a parent needs to give is the name of the school and like magic the attendant appears with the complete set-shirt, pair of shorts and socks, tie, sweater and P.E kit. If the child is present, the attendant will even come with two sets, a size apart, aware that his visual assessment of the size of the child may have been slightly off. What does this all mean for the salesperson? That the seller conforms to the buyer. Progressive hospital front office staff ceased asking the patient their file number: they simply stick it on his medical card which he must have. Cashiers will tell you that the traffic in the banking halls is comparatively light midmorning and overflowing towards closing time when most clients choose to do their banking: last minute. Wanting the customer to conform to you is much akin to climbing Kilimanjaro backwards.

Does this mean that the salesperson fate is sealed? Absolutely not! It does mean though that the salesperson has more education to do. There was a time that over the counter withdrawals were trusted (and therefore preferred) to the ATM; we take Mpesa for granted but it took two years to be fully accepted; we have been on a digital migration for a year or so now. Changing the clients way towards the new product or service offering can be done-not overnight though. The progressive salesperson knows this and accepts to educate prospects and clients alike of this new direction.

The set of uniform marked with the name of the school is simple but nothing short of genius. Imagine if the outlet hadn’t done that. The mental workload on the parent and attendant would be excruciating. Every shade of colour would have to be defined and the school would run the risk of finding its students with a rainbow of colours in the name of uniform. Simple, yet effective, selling strategy. Compare this to the salesperson who insists on unleashing the complete array of products or services for the prospect to choose from?

The presence of the child and the attendant’s wisdom in estimating the child’s size is another learning point. Tell tale signs are mostly there for the salesperson to see but the salesperson must be alert to them. The salesperson at the stall in town who invites you with “Karibu jeans” (Come in and view our array of jeans) does so because you are clad in jeans; the family photo probably implies the prospect has a soft spot for his family and the stuffed fish may give you an indication of his hobby. Like the attendant at the uniform outlet, exploiting these tell tale signs moves the sale further along the sales cycle

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