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Lessons in professional selling

Want to learn how to sell? Think about the way people treat you

What a pleasure it is to be on the receiving end of professional selling.

I recently purchased a new pair of walking shoes. My running shoes days ended years ago. I began my search at the mall chain store. The young (teenage) sales clerk saw me standing in front of their display and said, “Do you know what you want?”

“I think so. I’d like to try on this pair.”

“What size?”

“The size that fits my foot. Would you like to measure my feet?”

“Sure. Have a seat.” She used a foot-measuring device that was missing a few parts.

She returned with a pair that I struggled with to put on. “No thanks, I think I’ll keep looking.”

“No problem,” she said.

I left thinking about how much money this company spends a year on advertising to draw people into their stores and then entrusts this advertising goodwill to apathetic employees.

Next, I went to a local running shoe store, Fleet Feet, in St. Louis. A sales rep, Angela, greeted me and thanked me for visiting their store. “Have you been here before?”

“No, this is my first visit.”

“Let me tell you how we work. First, we study your feet and then find a shoe that is ideal for your foot style. We start by having you remove your shoes and socks and roll up your pant leg.”

“Okay, let’s go for it.” I was ready.

She measured my bare feet every which way possible — length, width, height, and shape. She plugged the measurements into her hand-held computer and promised to return with a pair that matched my feet.

The shoes fit like they were made just for me. She asked me to walk around so she could see how my feet struck the floor and my calves responded to these shoes. I bought the first pair I tried on regardless of the style. I didn’t ask the price until we were at the register.

I told her about the problems my wife was having with her feet and Angela invited me to bring her in to see how she could help. A few days later we returned and went through the same scenario. My wife also bought the first pair Angela put on her feet. My wife was so impressed that she said, “I’ll take ’em,” without ever asking the price. That may not impress you, but my wife is a coupon queen, frugal shopper, who buys only after extensive searching. I was stunned.

It’s no secret that shoes are more expensive at this specialty store but not that much more, especially when the shoes feel the way they feel. What a pleasure it was to spend money at this store with a professional salesperson who was totally focused on putting me and my wife in the right solution to make our walk through life a little easier.

Do your customers feel this way when they buy from you?


Tom Reilly is the author of Value-Added Selling.