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Blog : Under-sold and over-delivered


Under-sold and over-delivered

Operations Manager, Jon Reed shares a real example of tailoring the pitch to fit the customer.

It's finally happened. It has taken 30 years but finally I’ve been ‘sold to’. Yes finally I’ve bought something I didn’t need or want - and the bizarre thing is I didn’t realise it at the time. I should probably feel angry or taken advantage of...But strangely I don’t. In fact, I think I am impressed!

I was at a home show at the weekend wandering round a big hall with various stalls selling everything from decorative bunting to personalised coat hangers. Some of the stall holders there seemed to be awkward and it was clear there were some questions going through both our respective minds:

  • Who speaks first; customer or seller?
  • How can you look at their goods without giving them the authority to jump on you?
  • Maybe I should just use eye contact?
  • If I don’t use eye contact they can’t possibly speak to me
  • If I stand here looking at their leaflets long enough someone might actually see I’m interested and help me?
  • Are those sweets for me to take?
  • How free are the free samples?

I’d been through a few of these exchanges with stall holders and watched others go though the same ‘should I, shouldn’t I’ scenario time and time again. Some of the stall holders had prepared a scientific pitch they whipped out ready for their next unsuspecting victim. Others sat on their chairs waiting t be spoken too. I found it really interesting to analyse different approaches and to look at how some stalls were more successful than others.

About half way round the exhibition hall we walked up to one stall in particular and started having a nosey around. Within a minute or so a lady approached seeing that my wife was looking at a particular brand of hand cream whilst carrying our baby daughter and said: ‘I found this so useful after I just had my little one. I found myself washing my hands 10 or more times a day and my hands didn’t react well. This hand cream really saved my hands. I’ve brought some free samples so help yourself - take as many as you like’.

The stall holder then went on to tell us some other stories about the things she found useful during her child’s early years and very quickly we felt completely at ease and had rapport. It was the first time all day that anyone had really tailored their pitch – not only to our needs but our values - and well, for the first time I can remember I purchased something I didn’t set out to purchase. And for the first time in my life - I purchased hand cream!

On reflection the reasons I warmed so quickly to this particular stall holder were pretty simple:

  • I didn’t feel like I was being sold to, more like someone was doing me a favour
  • Listening to a real life story being told allowed me to make the link I needed to visualise how the product would help me (everyone loves a story!)
  • Meeting someone with confidence and who was genuine and friendly appealed and made it easy to connect
  • Timing and judgement of approach was perfect (any earlier we would have felt harassed, any later and we might have moved on)

And finally this stall holder adapted her approach to us. Seeing we had a baby allowed her message to be targeted and specific to me (and also she was able to appeal to my emotional side by talking about products that would help with parenthood).

Some people say selling is a science but based on my experience here I would suggest the more science you try to apply, the less success you’ll have.

Next time you shake my hand I hope you’ll notice the difference!

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