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Sales or Service?

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When you purchase a product the sales person often tries to ‘add on’ or sell another related item in the name of service. Cynically I view this ’service’ as a way to increase the retailer’s profits and have rarely purchased the additional ‘add on‘ item. That is up until now.

I don’t camp.  It is beyond me why anyone would willingly leave a perfectly dry house with a comfortable bed with 1000 percale cotton sheets and share an evening with creepy crawlies and unpredictable weather. This aversion stems from my first Girl Guiding ‘under canvas’ experience that ended with me lying on wet grass in a tent that had a few too many pin sized holes in the Queensland wet season, listening to a chorus of toads that were far too close for comfort.

Fast-forward 30 years the ‘pester power’ of my children to have a family camping expedition has grown in decibels. My husband, knowing that camping was not part of our marriage contract, has tried his

best to dissuade their requests with distraction and offers to ‘camp’ in the living room. Alas this technique has a limited lifetime and in a moment of weakness I agreed that we’d have an overnight family camping expedition. What was I thinking???

So it was then that I found myself in unfamiliar territory in an aisle of a camping superstore surrounded by an array of mattresses. The choice was vast and confusing and “no” I couldn’t find a cashmere and wool covered air mattress. To my relief I was approached by a young outdoorsy looking salesperson called Paul who looked like he’d been a camper from birth.  Paul indeed knew more than I ever thought there was to know about airbeds. In no time at all I had made my selection, assured by Paul that I would definitely have a good night’s sleep.

Paul then informed me that I would need a pump to inflate the airbeds.  Of course I would, but true to form, I immediately thought that he was attempting to increase the dollar figure of the sale. Paul looked at me, sensing that I was out of my comfort zone and patiently explained that without an air pump I’d be blowing up the airbed until the wee hours of the morning.

Paul persevered and demonstrated how quickly the airbed inflated, adding cheekily that I could even bring my 1000 percale sheets with me. Things were looking up.  I might even enjoy this camping experience.

If it wasn’t for Paul’s suggestion, and his explanation of the value of the air pump, I would have left the store without one, rendering our first family camping expedition a disaster. Paul genuinely wanted me to enjoy the experience and by asking a few simple questions he was able to suggest, and then sell me, the right products that satisfied my needs. From my interaction with Paul, I believe his genuine enthusiasm for the great outdoors and his passion for sharing this experience, underlies the interactions he has with his customers. For him, meeting his sales target would be a secondary consideration, that no doubt he would achieve.

Despite my best intentions, I still haven’t road-tested the air mattress and pump. My husband on the other hand has, and enjoyed had a great night’s sleep. He is appreciative of Paul’s efforts. Some aversions I maintain are reasonable, no matter what comfort is on offer.

The late Peter Drucker – the great management guru of the 20th century – said: “The purpose of business is to satisfy its customers’ needs. The consequence of satisfying customers is improved, continuous profits.”

Does your team focus on satisfying their customer’s needs, or achieving sales targets at the expense of all else?  As a leader have you designed your business to satisfy your customers’ needs? Talk to us at 3rdView today about how you can design a customer focused business that delivers improved, continuous profits.

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On November 19, 2013
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