Skip to main content Navigation

Sales Strategy

Give The Customer Permission To Buy |  February 19, 2015 (0 comments)


Boston, MA—My wife and I re-did our home-office recently and we decided to buy a new chair to create a nice reading retreat in the evening. Occasionally, one of us will want to lose ourselves in a book and escape the general hustle and bustle often found in our household of teenagers.

We went to our local Pier One store and we quickly spotted a wonderful chair that looked like it might suit our purposes perfectly.  I took the chair from an elevated platform and my wife and I took turns ‘test-driving’ it to make sure it would work for us.

After a quick walk around the store to ensure there was not a better option, we returned to the chair and we were eventually approached by a salesperson who asked us if we needed any help.

We let her know that we were interested in the chair and she went away to check on its availability.  While she was away, we noticed that there was a small chip on one of the chair’s legs.  It was not a major concern to us but it was certainly noticeable. When the salesperson returned, she announced that they were out-of-stock in that particular chair but that she expected an inventory to arrive in the next two or three weeks. She added that we could take the sample if we wanted.

We pointed out that there was a slight chip in one of the legs and, without having asked for one, she said “We don’t discount.” She then turned and walked away without another word from her or from us, and did not return to engage us again. My wife and I looked at each other as if to say, “Did that really just happen?”

There were any number of ways that the salesperson could better have handled that situation. She could have said, “Why don’t I take your information and I’ll make sure that we reserve a new chair for you as soon as they become available.” She might also have noted that the small chip was barely noticeable and could easily be addressed with a little coloring from a furniture pen. She might also have said, “Look, we normally don’t discount our floor samples, but let me see if my manager will take a little something off for you.”

Without a shadow of doubt, any of the aforementioned options would have resulted in us buying the chair that day and Pier One would have had a $500 sale. What happened, instead, was we left the store, without the chair, shaking our heads at the complete indifference and incompetence of that salesperson.

We wondered how many times a day situations like that happened in that store - and what the impact was on their sales-results over the course of a week, a month, or a year?  The salesperson expected the least of us and she successfully orchestrated that self-fulfilling prophecy. All we needed was permission to buy that chair and she never gave it to us.

Peter Smith, author of Hiring Squirrels: 12 Essential Interview Questions To Uncover Great Retail Sales Talent, has spent 30 years building sales teams at retail, and working with countless numbers of independent retailers as a brand-executive, to offer his counsel and advice on personnel matters. A graduate of Boston College, he has served on the Advisory Board of Caliper’s Global Conference and is a contributing panelist on the KR Executive Group’s Talent Blog. Smith has worked for Tiffany & Co., and was executive vice president of brand development for Hearts On Fire, where he authored the Menu For Success, a roadmap for retail success. He is currently executive vice president of Schachter & Co., a division of Leo Schachter. Smith’s book is available in print or Kindle digital edition on 

Share This:

Leave a Comment:

Human Check