Selling Like a Pro

April 25, 2006

Eight Sales Lessons

By: Matt Michel

Maybe I can’t see as well as I once saw, but I could see this coming. I could see that I was being sold something I wasn’t that excited about buying for more than I wanted to spend. Still, I bought. What’s more, I felt great about the purchase. There’s a lesson here…

“I’ve got good news,” the optometrist said, “You’ve got 20-10 vision with both eyes…”

That was good I thought, only how come I can’t read fine print anymore? Or see as well in the dark? And what are these darn things floating across my field of view.

“…but only from more than four feet away,” he chuckled.

I didn’t see what was funny. At all!

“You need reading glasses. Your night vision’s not as acute. And you’ve got floaters. In short, you’re getting old.”

Gee thanks. You’d get along great with my teenage daughter.

Still, I swallowed my pride and bought (gulp) glasses. It was the first pair I’ve ever worn. They didn’t last long. They worked great until I needed to look up, and then everything got fuzzy. I finally quit using them, except when I wasn’t tired.

Then, my arms seemed too shrink. Either that or I was holding things farther away. Forced to do something before my arms got too short to read, I searched the Internet and discovered a store in Dallas that sold bi-focal reading glasses (Reading Glasses To Go). Saturday I visited and got a sales lesson.

When I entered the store, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to buy anything or not. My old reading glasses cost $15 at Barnes & Noble. This place looked pricey. Once I entered, however, it was over. The sales clerk approached and I was clearly outmatched.

The sales clerk must have recognized my type… high school has been, recently arrived from a place in Egypt (you know, ‘De Nile). She listened to me for a few minutes, and then suggested the advantages of no-line bifocals. They’ve got a gradient.

“They only cost $20 more,” she said.

Twenty dollars didn’t sound bad, but $20 more than what? She never mentioned what the bifocals cost. In fact, we never agreed that I was going to purchase the bifocals. She *assumed* I would buy the bifocals. Before I knew it, I assumed it right along with her.

“Twenty dollars is not much more to pay for the wider range of vision they give you. Here, put these on,” she said, handing me a pair of the no-line bifocals, and shoving a reading test card in front of me.

I knew what she was doing. She was getting me “involved” in the sale. I teach this stuff, I felt like saying, so stop right now with your Zig Ziglar, Tom Hopkins sales tactics. I’ve been to all of their seminars. I’ve read their books. I know exactly what you’re trying to do.

Only, I didn’t. I was being “sold” on something I didn’t particular want and wasn’t very excited to buy, knew it, and was nevertheless enjoying it!

“See how light they are? Now, try on these bifocals. See how abrupt the contrast is with the focused lens and the regular lens? It’s so much smoother with the no-line lens. See how much harder it is to position your reading material just so? I think it’s worth $20 for the no-line lens.”

Twenty dollars didn’t sound like much. I was buying the premium, which meant I was buying the glasses.

“How much do they cost?” I asked.

“They’re only $80,” she said.

Eighty bleeping dollars! I wanted to scream. They’re eighty dollars as in eight, zero? You gotta be kidding me! I only paid $15 for my old reading glasses. And, by the way, eighty dollars means a 33% premium over the bifocals. That’s a big bleeping premium! What’s with this “only $20 more” stuff?

That’s what I wanted to scream. Instead, I said, “Hmm.”

“Which frame do you prefer,” she said without missing a beat, “this one or this one.”

Ha! I knew what she was doing. I wasn’t going to play along by agreeing to anything. “I don’t like that one,” I said.

“Do you prefer a larger or smaller frame?” she asked. “Here try these on. Oh, you definitely look better with the others, wouldn’t you agree?”

I mumbled something that she took as an affirmative response. She had me. Moreover, she knew she had me. And she knew I knew it. She closed by assumption.

“Let’s wrap these up,” she said.

I followed her to the cash register, like the meek little pigeon I was. By not stopping her, I agreed to buy.

She wasn’t finished. She knew a pigeon when she had one.

“I strongly recommend use of a micro-fiber cloth to clean your glasses,” she stated, holding a package of the micro-something-or-the-other. “Never use regular tissue paper. Once you scratch glass, you can never repair the damage.”

I never agreed to buy the micro-something-or-the-other. However, I never stopped her from ringing it up either. I don’t know what it cost. I still don’t. She simply added it to the purchase and I paid.

She wasn’t finished.

“We provide you with a complementary case, but it doesn’t provide much protection for light frames like these. I suggest a hard case like this one. I can give you a credit of $3 if you prefer the hard case, rather than the complementary one.”

Wow. Three dollars.

I didn’t like the hard case. I did sorta like the leather case. “How much is this?” I asked.

She appeared dumbfounded that I wanted to know what the price was. She fumbled around as though no one had ever asked her such a silly question and found the price. “It’s $20.”

Hey, enough is enough. I gave her a practiced choking sound. There was no way I was going to pay $20 for a case when my last pair of reading glasses only cost $15.

She could see she was in trouble. “Maybe you would like a smaller hard case. Here,” she offered, after pulling one from a hidden drawer, “this is much better don’t you think?”

I sorta nodded.

She smiled.

“Good, then I’ll put the glasses in this one.”

Showed her, I thought, before it hit me that I’d just bought another accessory.

“Will you be paying by check or credit card?”

Somebody else-not me-handed her a credit card. It had to be somebody else, because I didn’t even know what I was spending. Still, I signed the slip for just over $100 for a purchase I imagined would be in the range of $25 when I opened the door to her store.

What a sap! I could feel a huge degree of buyer’s remorse coming on. I think she could see it too.

“You know,” she offered, “that you would spend over twice this much for prescription glasses.”

Really? Maybe it wasn’t such a bad deal, after all. Sap!

When I got home, I couldn’t wait to show my new purchase to my wife.

“They’re better than bifocals,” I raved, “and they’re light. I saved a lot of money compared to prescription glasses. Here, see this special micro-something-or-other cloth I got?”

It took me a day or so to figure out what really happened. I bought from a master salesperson. I bought something boring. I bought more than I really needed. I bought not one, but two accessories. And I felt good about it.

As the thought hit me, I counted my blessings that I’ve never encountered this lady on a new car lot. If I did, I would be in big trouble.

Source: Comanche Marketing. Reprinted by permission.
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Copyright © 2002 Matt Michel

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