I love to shop—for my business and, of course, for me! But I find that these days there are so many choices—brands, colors and styles, to name just a few—that it's hard to make buying decisions. Whether it's a new store or a new supplier, I often find that I need help deciding what to buy. In those situations, I love to have a conversation with a good salesperson who finds out what I need and then gives me smart suggestions and recommendations.
Whether it's new clothes, a new laptop or an upgrade on my BlackBerry (or—wait a minute—do I switch to an iPhone?), I want someone to help me, inform me, provide me with alternatives and give solid recommendations. Even at a restaurant, I like to ask the server for recommendations. I always enjoy the conversation—and am able to quickly determine the server's level of expertise. Even a simple question allows me to quickly assess the capabilities and experience of a waiter, salesperson or business partner.
While on a recent trip to St. Lucia, I stopped by the "Tours Desk" of our hotel to find out more about the island and which day trips or excursions we should consider. The tour desk salesperson was friendly, and handed me a few different brochures with numerous options. But when I asked her for her recommendations, she quickly took back the brochure, highlighted four or five different options, and then handed me back the brochure. No further conversation ...
She missed a sales opportunity. She could have engaged me in a more purposeful sales conversation and asked me what I liked to do, what interested me and what my needs were. More importantly, she could have asked me what my goals were while vacationing on the island. I appreciated her identifying the better tours. But she didn't really help me with the decision ... and she didn't make a sale. I walked back to the pool just as confused as before.
In the end, we did go on an island tour, after getting recommendations and advice from others. But the process of choosing an excursion would have been so much easier for us if the tour operator had taken a few moments to have a purposeful sales conversation with us.
Thought Provoking Question - TPQ: What type of purposeful conversations are you having with your prospects and customers to help them in the decision making process?