When I first launched my career as a full-time professional speaker it was 1991 and my friends told me that I needed a computer. What I was going to use it for was still a mystery to me? I visited my local technology store and made an appointment to have the manager demonstrate this retailer’s house brand computer, a Tandy.
At the time, this company that I guess once sold radios from a shack used “your technology store” in their print and broadcast advertising. It was a good positioning strategy for a national chain. Since locally, they were my “technology store” I had fully intended to buy a computer there, that day. When I arrived, the manager was still messing with the computer. It seemed that he was having trouble making the technology run correctly—that was clue # 1.
Finally, he somewhat got the technology working but we were interrupted by a customer who had come in the store to pick up her computer. Her technology (a computer similar to that which I was considering) didn’t work and the store people sent it out for repair—that was clue # 2. The manager and I were not directly interrupted because the woman was dealing with the counter clerk. In time they got louder—as the technology (computer) was not back as promised.
The store manager was trying his best to ignore the woman. Perhaps he figured why mess with an unhappy customer when he was trying to make a sale? I messed him up though, by suggesting that he handle the situation. I told the manager that I’d be happy to wait for him. He approached the counter with the store clerk and the not so happy camper, the customer.
I was blown away by the fact that he made no real effort to solve the woman’s problem. In fact, he basically told her tough luck! While sometimes I might be a slow learner that was clue # 3 for me. Was this the kind of place that I wanted to spend my money? Before the manager got back to me at the table where the Tandy computer sat, I had visions in my mind of one day being that same woman, needing help and being told, tough luck!
When the manager approached me, he now had three strikes against him in my mind. I thought, “Perhaps others liked to buy their‘technology’ from the guys that once sold radios from a shack—but, not me!” So I told him that I was late for an appointment (yes, I told a lie) and I got the hell out of there. I did not want to be an unhappy camper customer in two or three weeks. He blew a $1,600 sale that day. I have always wondered how many retail sales that manager was personally responsible for sabotaging during his employment at that particular technology store? If he sabotaged just one sale like that each day for six months—five days a week for 26 weeks—gosh, that’s only $208,000.
What could you do with an extra $208,000 every six months?
- Hire better employees?
- Train your employees better?
- Go on a much-needed vacation?
- Pay your vendors on time?
- Pay the IRS?
- Buy new store fixtures?
- Buy new technology for your store?
- Buy advertising on your local cable TV station?
- Put it in the bank for when you are an old fart?
- Buy that Porsche you’ve always wanted?
- And the list goes on and on…
When you are serving a customer, or the lack there of, you are on display. Potential customers are watching your actions. You can preach customer service, customer satisfaction and value from the highest peaks, yet your prospects are watching your actions. And, your actions speak so loudly, that most really can’t hear a word that you are saying—they are too busy watching your actions.
Additionally, anytime you are selling new or innovative technology, you had better be sure that the demo works. If a customer is just a bit hesitant about using something new, as was I in this example, a simple screw up on your part will send the prospect running as far and as fast as they can. Most people need help with technology. What is old hat to you, most likely is rocket science to your customers and prospects—treat them kindly.
Ed is the Founder and CEO of the 501(c)(3) non-profit public charity, Cigar PEG Philanthropy through Fun, and president at Rigsbee Research which conducts qualitative member ROI research and consulting for associations and societies. He has been called “the dynamite that broke up our log jam” by association executives—rarely politically correct and almost always provocative—and from a dozen years as a United States Soccer Federation referee, Ed calls it the way he sees it. Exceptional resources at www.rigsbee.com.