On the way home from the school drop off this morning, I was practicing my personal efficiency and stopped at the grocery store to pick up a few items needed at home. In my community there are four Sprouts Farmer’s Markets and I stopped at the one on the way home from school.
You know how it is, you go in there for one or two items and end up buying more than you planned because you think of other things you are low on. I stopped by the meat counter because Iove this Chicken Parmesan Sausage they make. In the past I have been able to purchase this sausage in bulk because I don’t particularly care for the pork casings, and I can do more with the bulk sausage. They didn’t have any available in bulk so I asked the man at the counter if they had any in the back. “No”, he replied “We don’t sell it that way any more, I changed that, I’m the new manager.”
“Seriously?” I asked, “I have always purchased it in bulk.” “You shouldn’t be able to”, he stated. He went on to explain to me that they no longer sell the product that way because they “rarely sell any of it.”
Now I am a customer standing there asking to buy the very product they “rarely sell” and I am thinking is this guy out of his mind. He should be thankful I chose to shop in his store today. Has he not heard that the economy is in a bad place.
I felt the blood rushing into my head, so I walked away because I was truly afraid I would explode right there in the store.
If you are just living life there are lessons everywhere and this experience is no exception. By the time I drove home I had this blog article already written in my head. So here we go.
One of my mentors regularly asks me the question “Can I buy?” I have learned to always answer “YES!” Think about that for a minute, if a customer is standing there with money in hand asking to buy your product, and you are a sales person standing there trying to sell a product, what should your response be? I think it should be “YES”, followed quickly by a response like “How many would you like to buy?”
Sales are the bottom line to every business, and without customers you don’t have a business because no one is buying. If I were the store manager at the store in question, the meat department manager would be job hunting right now. How can any business expect to stay in business when their managers are driving customers out the door. I am no expert, but it occurs to me that retail operations send me sales fliers every week highlighting store specials to bring me into their store so I will “BUY”. I can only image the amount of revenue that is expended weekly on marketing to me and all the other consumers in my zip code.
Trying to give the meat counter manager the benefit of the doubt, he was probably trying to cut expenses in lost product due to shelf life etc. He could have offered me a special, or offered to go in the back and make me some sausage while I completed my shopping. Both options would have been good customer service, and I would not be sharing this story with you.
Sales is about choosing to do what is best for the customer. Interestingly there is a related skill in sales often referred to as customer service.
“Great customer service isn’t just a plus. It’s a survival strategy!” Clay Stevens
If you are like me, you work hard for your money, so when you choose to spend it on something it is because you really want to purchase it. No one likes to be told that they can not buy a product. I have been taught that the function of business is to “get and keep” customers. When a department manager fails to keep a customer the marketing department is wasting their money on marketing to get those customers in the door.
This experience drives home a couple of very important points that I would like to highlight for you. First, in today’s market no one can afford to turn away a customer for any reason. Basically, if someone wants to buy your product you should be running to serve that person, not turning them and their cash away.
Secondly, and even more importantly, that poor man had no idea I would go home and blog about this experience. I wish I would have had the presence of mind to take his picture with my iPhone so I could insert it into this article.
I seriously considered never shopping in that store again. Instead I chose to leverage my vast network of clients, customers, colleagues and associates to tell my story. Which sadly will reflect badly on both him and his store.
The lesson here is that a happy customer will tell 3-5 people about their experience. But an unhappy customer will tell the whole world. In today’s social media rich environment telling the whole world is easy to do.
My advice to you–JUST SAY YES when a customer wants to buy!