Double-edged sword – low pressure sales

A few days ago, Linda and I were doing some research on one of those fancy receipt scanners – the ones that scan and read your document, then file them in the appropriate place on your computer.  Brilliant! Saves time, space and paper. 

We weren’t getting very far with our online research, so we decided to get out, get some fresh air, and ask the helpful folks at a couple of the local office/small appliance stores for some help.

Our first stop was at an actual computer store that carried the product in question, as well as a wide assortment of small business software that we thought might help.  When we approached an employee with a question about the software we were considering, he proceeded to read the box.  Um, I can read the box. In fact I DID read the box, which I am coming to YOU!!  I was hoping for a little insight, but instead we got… “Sorry we can’t help you.”

Empty-handed we trucked on over to an office store – surely they would know how to help us.  Sadly, no.  I will say that one of the employees was helpful in that he knew more than most, and in fact he knew enough to tell us that the software for the scanner is not yet compatible with Windows 7.  We’re not running Windows 7, but I appreciate the insight.  Tweedle Dumb’s advice (employee #2) was a little less helpful.  When asked if two similar machines from the same manufacturer used the same software, he couldn’t tell me.  “Now you are getting too technical.  I’ve never used these.  If I had one of my own I could tell you more. You’re probably best off looking at the reviews online and calling the company.”  Once again empty-handed, we left.

Third time has to be a charm, right?  Think again.  While Junior at the big box electronics store didn’t have any information, I could at least understand why – because they didn’t carry that product.  Also to his credit, we found him half-way across the store from where we needed to be and he happily walked us over to the software area and helped us look. Again, we left empty-handed.

Where I think our sales/service experience suffered was from the low, low, low pressure sales approach.  I will be the first to admit that I appreciate being left alone for the most part in a retail store, however when I do ask a question, I (and I think most consumers) expect some answers – even if it is not to the question we originally asked. 

Each one of these folks had the opportunity to ask us some questions about what we were looking to do, why we needed the scanner and our understanding of other products.  I’m not a salesperson, but that seems like sales 101.  Get to know your customer’s needs so you can meet it.  But maybe that’s the problem… the individuals we met that day are not sales people either.  They are associates, or team members, or crew members, or employees, and the expectations are much different.  As we shrink our staff and combine positions to save money, we also place less emphasis on being a specialist.  A specialist would know every piece of equipment in that store whether they personally owned it or not.  It would be a requirement to test things out, find the bugs, understand the ins and outs so you could explain it all to your customers.

I guess what really surprised me was the lack of, “You know, we don’t have that, but let me see if we do have something that would work”, which probably stems from a lack of knowledge of products in the store or in the market in general.  A few rounds of at least looking for an alternate solution would have helped our experience tremendously. 

Then at least we would have had some information, even if we were still empty-handed.

Thanks for reading!

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