Importance of Basic Sales Skills


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

I’ve been shocked at some of the customer service I’ve received recently, and in a good way. When I’ve had difficulty with huge retailers, like Sears, the follow-up and resolution has been extremely thorough and apologetic. Encounters with Verizon have been stress-free, even after I somehow incurred an errant $2,800 bill for overseas data usage. In these, and other cases, I’ve actually been taken aback at how the retailer approached my issues. From the second they picked up the phone they were in a problem-solving mode rather than trying to determine that the fault was actually mine.

In essence, they’ve taken “the customer is always right” philosophy to an extreme level and ingrained in every one of their employees. Leaves me breathless at times!

It’s an interesting approach since we all know that the customer really isn’t always right. Retailers have adapted the strategy of making the customers feel as if they are right and that their grievances count, even if by all counts it looks as if you may have dropped your Android in the swimming pool. It doesn’t matter, you have insurance for your phone and that means you get a new one for free! And isn’t that what you really wanted?

When I called Sears recently, their representative said they could understand my problem and they would do everything they could to alleviate that concern. When I called again as a follow-up, a different person said exactly the same thing to me. So okay, it was scripted but it also told me they were all taught from the same training program and that made me feel secure.

The strategy is worth adopting. The alternative is having your sales person confront your customer and if that occurs, you run the risk of losing the client and their business all together, even if your office is correct. Sometimes all it takes is showing that you care, or at least pretending that you do.

I came across some other fun Sales 101 techniques recently when Travel Agent magazine and the Barbados Tourism Authority hosted members of our 30Under30 travel advisors on a destination immersion trip that also included an editorial roundtable.

What I found most interesting was how some of these young entrepreneurs are still using good old-fashioned techniques to reach their clientele.

One participant said she gives away card magnets, and that has gotten her business. “I think you also have to pick up the phone and ask how the trip is going. I’m old school like that,” said Lynda Lettre of Party Time Cruises & Travel in Nanuet, NY.

It’s not all about electronic marketing with this new generation of advisors. Daniela Harrison of Avenues of the World in Flagstaff, AZ, said that when she sends out a direct mail piece, her Gen Y clients are delighted because they’re not used to getting real mail anymore. They’ll even call and thank her for it.

Another leaves her business card with the paid check when she goes out to eat; not a bad idea!

These are all basics of good salesmanship, which also includes reading your customer. There are some people you can never please, and those are the ones you should consider firing as clients. But the rest are mostly all right most of the time and they want you to see their side of things, which isn’t a lot to ask for.