As I was busy driving around in the traffic jams of Northern Virginia a few days ago, I took a pit stop into a mall so I could stop by ‘The Walking Company’, a business that sells special walking shoes, orthotics, etc. Because the plantar fasciitis in my left foot has been kicking my butt lately, I’m to the point where I’ll pay anything to get rid of this pain-in-my-arch
So after being in The Walking Company for a few minutes and having picked up a new set of orthotics, I noticed the perfect pair of dress-shoes for work—brown leather, sleek look, and just my style (whatever that style may be). Immediately, I asked the sales lady if she had the shoe in my size, to which she replied yes and soon returned with the perfect pair.
Upon trying them on, I could immediately tell they were comfortable, well made, and of high quality. Yep, I wanted them, which led to the following conversation between me and the sales lady.
“Yikes…kinda steep…What makes them so good?”
“They’re Pikolinos….they’re the best.”
“Yeah, I’m sure they’re good, but why? Why are they the best?”
“That’s what they’re known for. Pikolinos are just the best.”
At this point, I knew I was dealing with someone who knew as much about Pikolinos as I did. I was frustrated and unsure as to what to do.
As I walked around the store with ‘the best’ on my feet, I ended up playing a personal ping-pong match in my head as to whether or not they were worth it. Would they last? How beneficial were they for people with arch issues? What are customers saying about this shoe?
But alas, the answers were not meant to be on that day. Nor was the sale of those lovely brown Pikolinos, as I had no choice but to hold off on the purchase until I had been able to justify spending $150 on a pair of shoes.
Here is the thing though: I wanted to buy the shoes. Heck, I have no problem spending 150 bucks if I know it’s going to help me feel better. It’s not that I’m tight with money, I’m just like everyone else—I want to know I’m getting the right thing for me and not wasting my money.
How could any major chain like The Walking Company allow their employee product knowledge to be so abysmal in this economy? Beats the heck out of me, but it just goes to show that no matter how bad the economy may or may not be, sales training for employees stinks in most cases. Education is not at the forefront of these businesses and because of this poor focus, sales suffer—in a major way.
So if you’re in sales or have a retail store, don’t settle for average sales people. Don’t allow ‘because it’s the best’ to ever be a sales pitch for anything. Create a culture of education, teaching, and passion that not only instills confidence in consumers just looking for a reason to buy, but also sets your company as the industry expert in your field. Believe it or not, such a culture shift isn’t that hard, as very few are actually doing it. So be different. Be great. Teach everyone. And let the sales follow.