Home > Ideas > How bad do you want that sale?

How bad do you want that sale?

I walked up to the Convenience Store near my office to buy a packet of chewing gum – the man in charge of the store was seated at the entrance, gazing at the world going by. He reluctantly got up and fetched the item and extended it to me.

I paid him Rs.10/- and waited for the change – he smiled and said: “No change!”

There is a shop right next door and he could have easily walked across to ask for a small loan, just enough to pay me, if they didn’t have change for 10. The amount could have been returned later in the day.

But he didn’t do that! I stared incredulously at the man for a few moments and walked away. I am sure he expected me to fetch the change, because the need was mine. Well, he had another guess coming. One is never desperate for gum … Not me, for sure!

Have you seen this happen – you walk into a store and the Salesperson doesn’t seem interested in your custom.

In another instance I walked into a white-goods outlet and saw the entire team in the store gathered in front of the TVs on display to watch India play Pakistan in an ODI match. They were so engrossed in the proceedings on TV that my presence was not noticed till I called out to get attention. And then it was a reverse tug-of-war with each of them trying to coax one of others to attend to my needs – I am sure each of them was saying “Killjoy!” in their head – it was quite evident from their expressions!

(Purely as an aside let me ask, have you noticed how during cricket matches in India the Policemen positioned at the periphery of the ground are seated with their backs to the audience and enjoying the match, while in England you would see them with their backs to the playing area to make sure that law and order is maintained in the stands. Now, who is the smart cop?)

The margin available on a packet of gum would not be significant, but if the Salesman were to repeat such behaviour on a regular basis the consequent loss of income in a month would be huge. And in both the examples given above it is likely that over a period of time less and less customers would show interest to do business with them.

Often it’s because the person is totally demotivated and lacking interest in his job – for a variety of reasons. This little convenience store on a side road would not be receiving much business on any given day and hence it makes the owner’s behavior monumentally stupid. One hopes that he has read the writing on the wall and shows more enthusiasm and interest in his customers.

If the entire complement of staff in the white-goods store were to focus on a game or behave in a lukewarm manner when customers walk in, the outlet would soon be on the chopper’s block – the owners would have to shut shop. This outlet belongs to a retail brand that has a number of outlets across the city. Poor performance on a regular basis at one outlet could cause a lot of negative publicity in the market that can impact the entire chain and potential loss of revenue for the stake-holders. Are the Supervisors / Managers aware of the situation?

I hope for their sake that my experience was an exception, a minor aberration, and that the behavior is more energetic and correct at most times.

It is essential for senior managers in the organization to sense-check what is happening in their empire. It shouldn’t be that things were rotten and the smell reaches them only after things are way beyond repair.

Employees need to be reviewed, trained and coached regularly to ensure that they battle ready and eager to provide service – they need to stay motivated all day, all year round. There is no room for complacency and slackness.

Customers need to sense that their presence is appreciated and that their patronage is valuable.

Sales Pros, please put your best foot forward and give them your best smile. The customer may not knock a second time because he has other options today.

  1. January 31, 2013 at 10:06 pm

    Nice article jayadev . This is not a minor aberration but a common occurence . Often it occurs at places where they “think” they have a good customer base .

    • JayadevM
      February 3, 2013 at 4:05 am

      Hi Haroon

      Well said … the customers will soon let them know! Thank you. for sharing your thought

  2. jaishvats
    January 31, 2013 at 10:59 pm

    Hi jayadev

    In the first case maybe that guy is not the owner . An employee has more chances of being complacent in such small ventures rt ? I can definitely relate to the incidents you have mentioned . Good observation abt the cops ha ha . There are times when we buy things purely due to the enthusiasm and zeal of the salesmen even when we were initially half hearted !

    • JayadevM
      February 3, 2013 at 4:39 am

      Hi Jayashree

      Welcome back. No! No! It was the owner … the man was plain bored with life, I guess. He just wasn’t thinking and had no enthusiasm. Running the shop had become a drab routine or so it seemed to me.

      You are right – an enthusiastic salesman can change a buyer’s mind.

  3. February 1, 2013 at 2:50 am

    Any business or system can only be as good as the people who run it….!! This is a profound reality…

    • JayadevM
      February 1, 2013 at 7:23 am

      Absolutely! No need to discuss that one.

  4. Kalpana Malani
    February 1, 2013 at 3:39 am

    Would love to hear your take on some overenthusiastic salespersons who will not listen when you tell them that you are just browsing and decide to overdo the sales pitch!

    • JayadevM
      February 1, 2013 at 7:23 am

      Hi Kalpana

      We’ve had a few discussions on that topic a few days back – a lot of people had written in response to another article at this blog that like you they too don’t like such intrusions.

      I agree with all of you – the Sales Persons needs to be aware when to step in and assist and when to stay in the background. Usually a smart ones are aware when the people is desperately looking for help. They usually let people be when they are just browsing.

      The outlet needs to invest more time in training and coaching for the right behaviour.

  5. Venu Mohan Madhavan
    February 1, 2013 at 6:28 am

    : I go for physiotherapy sessions these days . Every one of the therapists are on their Android phones. At the counter they take about 5 mins atleast before they even look up at you . They interrupt the therapy sessions to attend to some indication on their phones. The new work culture I presume.

    • JayadevM
      February 1, 2013 at 7:18 am

      Hi Venu

      I must agree from personal experience too and from my own behaviour that these devices can be a scourge – some studies indicate that people prefer interacting with their smart devices to having sex. Wow!!

      But it can be a terrible put off and an irritant. I personally can do with less time on the device.

      Good insight. Thank you.

  6. February 1, 2013 at 9:05 am

    I’ve had experiences of both extremes….the disinterested and the intrusive. Neither is pleasant. Like you say, training on good sales practices is essential if businesses are to retain a happy clientele. As usual, you’ve taken a personal experience and made an interesting article out of it! J…this is the precise quality that ensures that reading you is always a delight!

    • JayadevM
      February 2, 2013 at 12:06 pm

      Hi Raji

      Thank you for reading … and for leaving those words of encouragement, generous doses too.

    February 1, 2013 at 11:45 am

    hi jayadev,
    read your article, and this experience I think most of the guys might have experienced who have do their shopping. One interesting incident happened to me when I had gone for shopping a couple of years back. I walked into one of the leading textile showroom in Trivandrum, and on entering into the shop I saw a familiar face and I was relived, and I thought he would help me out purchase what I needed, without making me wait. I told him what I need and I was shocked, to hear from him — that I it is beyond your reach. I stood there amazed for a few minutes and left the place. This is also called salesmanship of the highest order.

    • JayadevM
      February 2, 2013 at 12:01 pm

      Hi Mathew,

      That plain obnoxious. Good that you left without buying anything from that store. How dare he?

      Its surprising that there is no audit being done. Complacence is dangerous.

  8. February 2, 2013 at 6:11 am

    Good one Jay!

    • JayadevM
      February 2, 2013 at 11:55 am

      Hi Jamy. Good to hear from you … gone missing.

  9. Harini Kumar
    February 2, 2013 at 12:57 pm

    Agree with you, its totally beyond my understanding how a person so disinterested in his profession can hope to sell anything at all. Sale of a product in my experience is due to two things, value of the product itself and the manner of the person selling it to you. A good salesperson and even hope to get the customer back again because of his right attitude…as Raji says neither intrusive nor aloof.
    Very pertinent subject Jayadev, enjoyed the article!

    • JayadevM
      February 3, 2013 at 4:00 am

      Hi Harini

      Welcome to the Sales Coach blog.

      Thank you for the comment …. it adds to the theme.

  10. February 2, 2013 at 2:21 pm

    No wonder we are plummeting to hell at breakneck speed! We keep hearing about the atrocities being unleashed upon the Chinese labour but surely we are at the other end of the spectrum. Who was it that said that BRIC is about to lose its I soon? Or maybe the I will start meaning Indonesia.

    • JayadevM
      February 3, 2013 at 3:58 am

      Well said, Umashankar.

      Our nation has lost it’s cutting edge … instead of taking the big leap we just seem to be soldiering on.

      People have to wake up from the slumber and get to work.

  11. Sunil Menon
    February 3, 2013 at 6:44 am

    Hi Jay,

    Sorry, I sound an eternal negate, nevertheless, it is difficult to remain immune from the behavioural effects of the clientele you serve.The wayside kiosk do their business mostly during lunchtime when you have your regulars coming in for smoke or other assorted tidbits. Most of the othertime he is filled with thoughts of selfpity, loathing over his not so good fortune compare to people speeding past him.
    Or he is as shrewd a businessman as an unassuming Marwari/Baniya (no offence) who may not understand the corporate lingo but crudely put understands and knows how to rotate his assets,we assess what assests are required per rupee of sales by dividing net sales by average total assets, We call it velocity, The higher the velocity, the more revenues , for e.g. the velocity of 2 meansthat a business is generating 2 rupees from sale of every rupee of assets.
    On a serious note you will see the greatest play of this velocity by those hawkers and wayside traders who take loan from ‘sharks’ and need to return the principal and interest by evening.

    The whitegood retails shop regularly employ college kids to mitigate the rush during the festive season when people come in droves and sales are made on discount pitch, these kids are here for 4-6 weeks they make quick bucks and the store owner also knows that the customers are pulled in due to festive discounts most of the other times you have sensible and serious people.We must also understand that business/sales acumen is a learned behaviour and takes time besides an eager store owner willing to invest in his staff training.

    • JayadevM
      February 3, 2013 at 6:21 pm


      You need a blog too. So much to say. Will give a more detailed response later. For now I shall just acknowledge receipt of the comment.


    • JayadevM
      February 18, 2013 at 12:29 pm

      Gosh, Sunil, you had to throw the Kotler book at me didn’t ya!! 🙂

      From the looks of it that kiosk’s velocity was ZERO or less – the man wasn’t market savvy or street-smart; he wasn’t headed anywhere, nor was his business.

      Yes, businesses employ various methods to meet busy season footfalls & conversions, but my article wasn’t about that at all.

      I was just saying that the seller needs to be eager to get my business – if I don’t matter to him I am not going to care about him either and this guy wasn’t Cartier, Gucci or Versace to give me attitude.

      My article was submitted as a reminder to readers to shun complacence and to be there when the customer walks in.

  1. March 8, 2013 at 12:03 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: