Don’t let your sales team lose a sale or a customer

argumentative saleswomanDon’t let any of your sales team lose a sale or, worse yet, a customer. Unfortunately, it happens every day in all types of retail businesses.

For example, my wife and I once went to a flooring store to shop for a particular floor tile we had learned about and thought would be ideal for a remodeling project we were planning. The store featured much of what customers want when they go shopping. They had a good inventory, very nicely displayed, with a lot of top quality, name brand product options. But they did not make a sale and, in fact, lost a customer as a result of the sales lady who waited on us. She was rather rude and insulting! As a result… we walked out and have never gone back to that store. They lost what could have been a sale as well as a good customer.

How was she rude and insulting? When we told the sales lady we were interested in the special tile that we were shopping for, she informed us, in a very haughty and rude manner, that such a product did not exist. However, we knew it did exist, so rather than argue with her, we just left the store. And we have not gone back there since.

We later went to another flooring store where they also offered top quality products and a broad inventory. We were pleased to learn that they also were very good in customer relations. The owner of the business waited on us and was very friendly, had extensive product knowledge and excellent sales skills. And he treated us with utmost respect, as did the rest of his staff. As a result, we ended up buying the flooring we wanted from them and having them install it. To add to their professionalism in their dealings with us, a few days later we got a very nice card from the store owner that read, “Thank you for giving us the opportunity to serve you. We appreciate your business and the confidence you have placed in us. Please contact me whenever I may be of further assistance.” It was personally signed by the store owner, and his business card was enclosed. That follow-up card made a very good impression on us. We have since gone back several times and have made other purchases from them, both big and small.

Assuming your store has quality products and an adequate inventory for customers to choose from, the moral of this story is to make sure your sales team always gives your customers a professional touch in all their dealings. Even if a customer is wrong, don’t insult them or drive them away by arguing with them to make sure they know they are in error. Instead, in situations where a customer is obviously wrong about a product, feature, or anything else, make sure your sales people respond with something like, “I understand why you might think that way but let me point out something that I think might change your mind.” Or, “I totally understand why you might think that, but let me show you…”

In the case of the rude lady in the flooring store, if she had just said, “I’m sorry, where did you hear about this product? I’m not aware of it but let me check with my manager to see if he (or she) knows about it,” we might have stayed and ended up doing business with them on a continuing basis. Instead, they lost not only a sale, but also a customer. They say that a satisfied customer will possibly tell a few people about their positive experience with a business. Conversely, a dissatisfied customer will tell many folks about their bad experience. What do you want them saying about their experiences with your sales staff?

We all have heard the old saying, “The customer is always right.” We all know, however, that they aren’t always right, but by arguing with customers to convince them they are wrong, a sales person will very likely, according to another old saying, “Win the battle….and lose the war.” Now, more than ever, it is important to make sure your sales team has proper training in sales techniques to give your store the professional edge it needs to build sales, your customer base and loyalty. No one can afford to lose potential sales and customers in this economy. Train your sales team and monitor them to make sure they aren’t losing sales and customers by treating customers the way we were treated by the lady in the flooring store.

About Ben H. Sherwood

Ben H. Sherwood is a marine industry veteran and a marketing consultant who operates Sherwood Marine Marketing in Pleasant Prairie, Wis. For more info, click About on the main menu.

2 thoughts on “Don’t let your sales team lose a sale or a customer

  1. You are right on about the training aspect of sales & customer success. The companies that do this best are usually very successful (I think of big companies like Disney for example).
    But, it applies to all of us; our people need to have the thought imbedded that if there is a potential customer visiting, they need attention, and first of all, a good listener.
    Further, our dealership instructs salespeople to establish a people relationship , however briefly done, then ‘sell the dealership’, also a brief interval, and THEN and then only, get to the product and its virtues. It’s an age old approach that simply put, has worked (for over 50 years). Some things dont change much.
    Education & Training – tres important in our business lives.
    Best, Ed Lofgren 3A Marine Service Hingham, Ma.

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