Home > Buying habits, Sales Force Development > A sales lesson at the hardware store

A sales lesson at the hardware store

I’m not much of an auto mechanic, but I still fiddle around with an ’01 Jeep Sahara that we use as a summer car. So I decide to replace some rusty door hinges on a Saturday afternoon. As will happen with these projects,  there’s trouble right away getting the old rusty bolts off before I can put the new ones on. Not wanting to bust them off and cause a bigger problem, it’s off to the Home Depot to find some penetrating oil. OK, so its a hike from the giant parking lot into the Big Box and then begins the mission of finding a small item in the acres of stock. After talking to two “Customer Service” folks, I’m still wandering around trying to find the stuff. 20 minutes later I find the PB Blaster (they say this is the best) in the tools department and then head off to the self checkout to battle the Bar Code Gods. Being somewhat impatient, I can only suck it up and admit that spending an hour to buy an $8.00 item is darned frustrating.

Back in the garage, I now find I need some silicone sealant behind the new hinges and I’m totally positive there is none of that around anywhere. Off to Home Depot again, right? Wrong … why not try the small local hardware store right down the street? You know, the family run kind with the old creaky hardwood floors and narrow aisles just stuffed with what appears to be the belongings of a herd of pack rats? Parked right at the front door, clerk is just inside and walks me straight to what I need. Standing at the cash register, he rings it up (novel concept) and tells me that will be  “$3.99 plus $.28 for the Government”. That sparks a friendly conversation about why they can’t balance the budget in the state of PA, but nevertheless I’m back on the project after a 20 minute round trip.

Sometimes we all need an experience like this to remind us of what we already know. So here is a Blinding Flash of the Obvious:

  • Bigger isn’t always better.
  • Cheaper isn’t always better.
  • People count.
  • Service and convenience trumps almost everything.
  • You don’t have to wear a uniform or $1000 suit to be of value.

If you’re part of the sales or business development world then don’t forget you’ll always have an opportunity to beat the biggest and the cheapest of all your competitors. Going to the Home Depot was just a conditioned response on my part, and your clients are probably not that much different in their buying habits. Stop to ask what people really want, and then find a way to help them get it.

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