I am usually an internet shopper, but there are times when I love the vibe of a brick and mortar store. I was recently shopping at a big box store that employs very cool salespeople. Energetic, clean cut, motivated, and bright salespeople; beautiful people with whom I loved having a conversation. One of the first things they did when I entered the store was to ask my name. They called me by my first name throughout the entire conversation and I felt like we connected very quickly. They inquired about my preferences in their product and were able to fit the sales pitch into my specific needs. I made the purchase and left the store feeling energized, alive, and anxious to use their product. Then, I went into the next big box store. Perhaps their marketing concept was different. Who knows? I just know that the shopping experience was vastly different than in the first store. The salesperson hovered over me from the moment I walked through the door and began telling me about all of the “wonderful deals” they were currently promoting. She followed me around the store pointing out these wonderful deals, none of which were the reason I came into the store in the first place. She used terms of endearment when addressing me as if that would sway me to spend more money. As I left the store, I called my husband on my latest and greatest smartphone (purchased from the first store) and said, “I just picked up two sweethearts, a baby, and three honeys.” To which he responded, “I know I should be most worried about the two sweethearts, but it is the baby that concerns me the most. I have told you time and again that I just don’t have the energy to raise another one. But, bring home that honey and I will whip us up some pancakes.”
It sounds like he had no idea what I was talking about, but he did. I have told him that I am averse to being approached with such terms of endearment from people I don’t even know. It feels a bit condescending to me. It feels a bit patronizing. If you were my dear childhood friend who always calls me “sweetie” I can live with that. It even feels a bit warm and fuzzy. My friend knows me and knows that I am anything but sweet and she calls me that anyway. I love her for it. If you are my granddaughter who occasionally calls me honey because that is what her Daddy calls her, I would melt. She is so charming in that way. But, if you don’t know me, I am not your baby.
Perhaps businesses should train their employees in better business acumen. The first rule of business: Know your customer. Not every shopper wants to be pampered and patronized. Some do and that is fine. Good salespeople can read the difference.
So, if you are a salesperson who sees me shopping in your store, here are some things you can try on for size. If you see I am in a rush and focused, it means that I know exactly what I intend to purchase. I will find the product, pay for it, and then get the heck out of your store. Don’t stop me to talk about the “specials” of the day. It is unlikely they are of interest to me. Don’t attempt a hard sell. Ever. I will leave the store and shop with your competitor. If I ask questions about your product, know the answer. I have the time to hear it and I need more information before I purchase it. Keep in mind that I have probably already done extensive research online so don’t try to pull the wool over my eyes. I may just want you to validate what I have read. If you want to call me something…..my first name will work just fine. Hello, gorgeous works even better. I can’t get that from internet shopping!