Column: The Transaction vs. the Sale

Vice President—Content/Editorial Director, Ruthanne Terrero
Vice President—Content/Editorial Director, Ruthanne Terrero

This has happened to me at least three times, so that makes it a trend.

I’m buying something at a very nice store. I hand over my money or credit card and stand there, waiting for the person behind the counter to do something that indicates the transaction is complete.

This could be giving me my receipt, handing over the bag of goodies I’ve just bought, or saying, “We are done. Good-bye.”

I’m not asking for much. But what I’ve gotten a number of times recently is nothing. So much nothing that I didn’t even know it was okay to take my stuff until the cashier looked up from the phone she had started texting into or from the conversation she’d resumed with her colleague and looked surprised that I was still in her presence.

And all that prompted was for her to say dully, “Oh, your receipt is in the bag,” which she hadn’t handed me, by the way, or pushed toward me, which she hadn’t even made a move to seal up or give it her blessing in some manner as it made its way out of her little shop and into the real world.

In Bloomingdale’s recently, a sales associate aggressively waved me over and asked if she could help me. I handed her my selections and she quickly rang me up. As she put her hand up in the air and reached past me I thought she was pointing something out to me. Nope. She was reaching for the merchandise that the person behind me was holding. She couldn’t wait to get me off the scene, even though there were no other customers in the entire area. She must have worked in a Manhattan deli before this, where the lines are always so long you don’t even have time to put your change in your wallet before the next person pushes up to the cash register.

This all made me realize that there’s a huge difference between completing a transaction and concluding the sale. For you, this means that there’s got to be something else that happens after you take a person’s money, even if now they have everything they need to take their trip. In the cases above, I was simply looking for validation that I could walk away without being stopped by security, but when someone has purchased a vacation they should expect a proper send-off from your shop (whether physical or virtual), no matter how busy you are.

When does the sale process actually conclude for you, or does it ever? There really should be no end to the advisor’s conversation with the client; it should go on while they’re on the trip and after they’ve returned home, to see how it all went. Ideally, the concept of the next trip should already be bandied about.

By no means should you take their money and move on without making them feel fabulous about what they’ve just bought, no matter how efficient you feel like being that day. This is your opportunity to make them feel that working with you has been the most special event of their lives and that there are many more such days to come.