Whenever our family plans a vacation, we visit travel sites on the Internet to do some preliminary research. Particularly, I like to read the reviews of other travelers in the hope that I might gain an unvarnished view of a particular property. After all, relying solely on the write up produced by the proprietor, one would expect a biased opinion. Businesses are prone to telling us that they are the best; however, the experiences of their previous clients speak loudest. So, while by no means is it fool proof, I find if I do enough reading I am able to get a well rounded impression. And so it was recently, that I stumbled upon a particular review that struck me as though it could be written about many businesses in the service industry. It read: “Very nice… My wife and I enjoyed our stay, however the quality of service was a little disappointing as the customer service quality changed depending on how well dressed we were. When we were dressed up the service was excellent, responsive, and caring. It was significantly less so when we were dressed casually.”
And there in two short sentences, an unfortunate side of human nature is perfectly revealed: we DO judge books by their cover.
It reminded me of an incident early in our marriage when my wife and I roamed around a furniture store aimlessly for twenty minutes without being approached by any of the large group of salespeople standing idly by. Other browsers entered the store after us, and were greeted with the fake/cheery “How are you folks doing today? It sure is a beautiful day out there”. The salespeople assumed that we were a waste of their time. While in this particular case they probably assumed correctly, it’s a dangerous habit for a salesperson to get into. You never know when the coldest prospect can turn into the hottest buyer. That kid with track pants and missing teeth might be wasting a salesperson’s time, but he may also be looking to spend his NHL signing bonus. Good salespeople (or perhaps just the ones I prefer to deal with) treat customers the same, with knowledge and respect. People can read when a salesperson’s only interest in them is financial.
Alas, I was a slow learner. Years later I improperly assumed that an elderly gentleman who had enquired about a property I had listed for sale was neither truly interested nor perhaps even qualified. Our conversation was brief as he was gruff and dismissive as we spoke. I too was dismissive, assuming he was just a grumpy old man wanting to make my day difficult. Needless to say, I did nothing to build a rapport or relationship. It was not until some time later that I learned he was a grumpy old rich man who could have closed the purchase with the loose change in his sofa.
People with the capability to make a purchase do not always present themselves as such. Indeed, they often make a concerted effort NOT to appear capable. There is often an inverse relationship between the image prospects choose to reflect and the actual substance, and good salespeople will not to differentiate. Not because they think the prospect might be wealthy, rather because all humans deserve the same level of respect. If you want to find yourself a good salesperson, go three days without a shower or shave, wear your grubbiest clothes and see who gives you the time of day. You’ll weed out the bad ones this way, but you may find yourself single.
Thanks for reading,