Aug 20, 2014

The long lost art of selling

With the advent of Internet shopping being the norm nowadays, going to a store can feel like you’re passing a kidney stone. People are not motivated, they’re jaded, they’re distracted by their cell phones and they’d pretty much just rather not be there... unless they’re from a past generation that knew how to sell and enjoyed it.

I bought my car at a dealership. The man who showed me the car had  biblical patience and even when I said I’d go check some other cars, he gave me a smile, wrote down the hours he worked on a business card and told me that regardless of what I decided he wished me the best. John had been kind, well informed, attentive and had been able to gauge me perfectly... he knew how to sell to me and I’m sure he could sell a car to any type of person... this is his craft, and kindness, information and a helpful attitude goes a long way into purchasing something that’s worth several thousand dollars.

I went to another dealership... the dynamic was off to say the least culminating with a manager basically asking if I was serious about purchasing a car because she wasn’t interested in wasting her time crunching numbers if I wasn't interested... Nice and needless to say, didn't buy the car there. .

I ended up at the first place and told the manager that the older man who had been so helpful was the main reason I had returned. The manager had been kind as well, but John was the reason and I wanted him to know that and once I signed my papers, I made sure to look him up and say thank you and that HE made a difference.

At Cakebread Cellars in Napa Valley, my first tour with my wife came courtesy of Bob... Bob is past 60, he’s kind, cool, and knows how to work a crowd, he’s also still been one of the best tour guides I’ve enjoyed... because he likes what he does. I went to a few other tastings and there were a mixed bag, though something was apparent with Bob, the tour from Schramsburg and my tasting at Robert Hunter Winery... you are the most important thing in each of these places and older people were beyond helpful, patient and kind.

Recently I went with my wife to check for a new mattress.... this isn’t a pair of sneakers, this is about a $1,200 investment... and the first place we went to yesterday, an older man, past 60 easily was the one who took the time to show us every damn bed we could fancy. He explained meticulously, he was kind, jotted down emails so we could compare and told us all the benefits of his product, and did so with pride. Afterwards we went to a Sears, where twenty minutes in, we left because no one offered to help... the difference in age was yet again apparent.

Firstly, I’m not saying young people don’t know how to sell, Coben Alexander at Terra Valentine Winery is brilliant and one of the top two experiences in Napa Valley and he’s in his mid 30’s tops. At a place I went to last night for drinks, the median age is 33 and everyone is a professional. But it tends to be that real professionals gravitate towards each other and that the average twenty something or thirty year old working in retail or offering services isn’t really into it... or maybe it’s just a greater degree of jaded pricks that have come into my path. What I do know is that older salesmen have panache, style and the will to make you happy and comfortable enough to commit to thousands of dollars... so every time someone says I’m oldschool, I take that as a huge compliment, because when it all comes down to it, the best salespeople and the best professionals are the ones who genuinely want to help and make a difference.

Here’s to the professionals who keep tried and true values so that it’s worthwhile to visit a store rather than shop like a complete sociopath.


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