Last week I was out shopping with my friend Joanne. And she was doing something weird. Which is not unusual for her. Every store we went to, she asked the salesperson nearby (assisting us or not) how much they shopped the store they worked at. At first I wrote this off as her being outgoing and friendly to everyone, which she is. This evening, while I was out shopping by myself, I thought back to our shopping experience.
The first store I stopped at, the sales people were polite and helpful, but not terribly knowledgeable about their product. I asked for something specific, and the girl eagerly went off in search. Alas, no joy. She searched the entire store and backroom, and since she was not comfortable with the product she looked much longer and harder than necessary. I shop there often enough that within a quick lap around the store I knew the answer before she did.
The next store, I asked for the same thing. The salesgirl was off and running and brought back 5 items meeting my criteria. She clearly knew the product features, but had no idea if they were a good match for me. She merely found the most expensive items in the store that fit my criteria, and 4 of the 5 items were just all wrong. Seriously, wrong.
The third store (and last stop of the evening), I did not even ask. I poked around not expecting to find much. As I was browsing, the salesgirl observed what I looked at and what I touched. Then she suggested a product that I passed right by. I was not even going to give it a chance, then she told me all of the items from the store that she owns and what are her favorite features of each one, why she loves them. Then she explained all of the wonderful features of the item she suggested for me, including the exact criteria I was looking for!
For the record, I was shopping for dresses with pockets. But, I could have been shopping for body wash, socks, dog toys, cheese, or whatever.
The salesgirl at the first store, was wearing a shirt that I was buying, but after talking with her, she was clearly an occasional shopper. After a few subtle questions, the salesgirl at the second store implied that she only buys a few statement pieces. Both of these salespeople were competent, but they were missing the passion of the product.
The third salesgirl was wearing multiple items from the store, and had already pointed out half the store that she owns in a different color or pattern. She knew the product very well and had a real passion! She knew exactly what would look best on me and she earned my trust. From that point on, she could pick out anything from the store, suggest that I try it, and I would.
When Joanne asked the sales people about their shopping habits at their own store, I realize she had found a way to judge the salespeople (if she consciously knew it or not). Not in a harsh judging way, just sizing them up. This was her metric to form an opinion. What is the value of this salespersons suggestions or information? The third salesperson’s value is much higher to me and I value her opinion related to her products.
For future shopping excursions, I will be asking more questions related to the salespersons shopping habits to better gauge how much “assistance” they can really provide.