“I really, really like this one.” That was a young salesperson in the Kiehl’s shop at the mall one Saturday. She was holding a bottle of calendula facial toner in her hand, whereas I was clutching some cucumber toner. “But they basically do the same thing, right?” I said. I was reading the small print on each bottle because sometimes, as you know, with beauty products, the smallest tweak to ingredients can create dramatically different effects. You might get bright, dazzling skin from one and elegant, soft pores from another. In this case, the cucumber and calendula were promising to do the same thing, from what I could see.
Pictured: It’s the buying process, not the actual transaction, that the customer often savors.
I mentioned this to the young lady, adding that I’d used the cucumber before and thought it was pretty swell. “But I love the way the calendula smells!” was her response.
Let’s give her an “A” for persistence and passion but basically a “D” for customer service and closing the deal. Frankly, my time would have been better spent if she had tried to sell me, say, a giant jug of calendula-flavored moisturizer instead of trying to talk me out of something I really liked. That’s because on some days, if I’m in the right mood, I’m your fantasy customer when it comes to being upsold. When I’m feeling pretty free and easy and not so cynical, I want to be convinced to do something that’s a little off the wall. Especially if I’m at the mall and it’s the weekend and I just got paid.
What I don’t want is to be aggressively pressured into buying something. I want to feel I’ve made my decision based on educated choices, even though I know it’s actually the artfulness of the salesperson who has guided me to ultimately say, “Yes.” A really, really good salesperson will even make you feel super smart and even a little virtuous as you’re handing them your credit card. Perhaps, with their persuasion, they’ve made you feel you’re saving the planet or “helping yourself feel good so you can make others feel good.” Yay, me.
Stephen McGillivray, chief marketing officer for Travel Leaders Group, recently spoke about the purchasing process and all of the “micro-yeses” that have occurred in the buyer’s mind before the final transaction is executed. Micro-yeses happen when a comfort level is being established in a very subtle fashion. Perhaps that salesperson has shown they care about the little details; hence, you feel you can trust them with bigger issues. Sometimes they’ll pay you a compliment so you feel good about yourself. I once stuck with the same hairdresser for a year because she said, and— wait for it— that I had “nice hair.” It doesn’t take much. On other days, you just want to drink some of the same Kool-Aid that a dynamic and classy salesperson is drinking so you can live in their upbeat world, if only for a few minutes. At such times, ringing up the cash register is just a miniscule part of the entire event.
Selling a vacation requires that you touch a person on so many levels; it’s got to be a huge challenge because you’re dealing with logistics, family politics, financial issues and a million barriers your client is battling in their mind. But if you start off with the goal of providing great customer service first (and that’s customer service that’s designed specifically on what that person’s needs are), you can fill in all of the other parts of the sales process as you go along, including, closing the sale. Just remember to keep the client saying, “Yes,” to all the little things along the way.