You have no idea…


Last fall I was in the market for a new tent and after doing some research, I narrowed the choices down to just three.  Given my size, I like to try tents out before I buy them so I headed out to the local Mountain Hardwear shop where they had the Mountain Hardwear Optic 2.5 in stock.

Having done my research ahead of time, I knew the statistics on the tent such as dimensions, weight, packed size and materials.  I also knew the price.  At $240, it is a moderately priced tent in the Mountain Hardwear line, where tents can range to over $500.

I arrived at the store nicely dressed and freshly showered.  As I entered the store, I was greeted warmly by the person near the cash wrap as I made my way to the back of the store to the tent department.  As luck would have it, the Optic 2.5 was actually set up on the sales floor for display.  This kept me from going through the hassle of asking to have the tent set-up.  As I bent down to crawl into the tent, a clerk approached me.

 “It is a great tent, isn’t it?” he queried.

“Yes, it is.  I researched it online and wanted to come in and check it out,” I responded.

“Well, I don’t know how much you are used to paying for tents, but you might find this one a bit expensive”

I was dumbstruck. I didn’t know how to respond.  This guy had no idea how much money I was willing and able to spend on a tent.  My appearance would lead most people to assume that I made a comfortable living.  And I had not mentioned the price at all.  Finally I stammered out my reply, “Well, thanks for the info.  I just came in to check it out before I made any decisions.”

Sensing that I no longer wanted to talk with him, he walked away.

Teachable Moment

This guy made a big mistake.  He assumed, for what ever reason, that the price of the tent was going to be the biggest issue in the sale.  He was wrong.

  • My clothing and appearance gave him no sign that I would find the tent “expensive.”
  • Had he listened to me carefully, he would have realized that during my online research I would have run across the price and had it been too expensive, I would never have stopped by.
  • This specific tent was actually at the low-end of the company’s own price run.
  • There are a number of premier tents on the market such as Black Diamond, Hilleberg, Integral Designs or Warmlite that are far more expensive.
  • Leading with price in his presentation, he made the sale about the cost of the tent and would be forced to deal with his own perception of price.
  • Perhaps he was dealing with his own spending limits not me, the customer.
  • Rather than providing product information or discussing quality and value, his only comment about the tent was how expensive I might find it.

Managers keep at eye out for such behaviors in your sales staff and correct them when they make assumption about customers.

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