“You can have any color you like, as long as it’s black.”
– Henry Ford
That quote always cracks me up. I suppose it is because I could never imagine anyone actually thinking that way or speaking that way to his customers.
Have you ever been shopping and had an RSA push something you didn’t necessarily want? I have and when that happens I immediately think there is a spiff on that item, they simply make more commission, or somebody has done an incredible job training them and made them brand advocates. All of these tactics are very common in the mattress industry. I am not saying that they are all bad, but consider the following.
When an RSA pushes a consumer in a direction that serves him or the store, he risks the relationship with that person. Do we really think they aren’t smart enough to figure out what we are doing? I am not saying an RSA should not make suggestions or share personal experience with the consumers. I am, however, saying that if you spiff a certain product hard or even run a contest on an item, you are going to have RSAs giving more than a subtle suggestion. Even if the salesperson is totally loyal to a brand because the manufacturing rep has earned their trust, this can be a problem. If we let our sales force push a shopper in the direction WE want them to go versus making sure the consumer ends up with something THEY want, that person may leave with buyer’s remorse, which will decrease satisfaction and possibly result in a return.
One of my dearest friends in this business is Anne Pillow. She used to work with Blumenthal, a tick company, and is now working at DesleeClama. When I first met her I was working at Serta and in charge of the Sam’s Club business, and we bought millions of dollars in tick for that account. Anne sat in on a tick presentation and told me more than once not to buy something from her own company because it was overpriced or the design was flat ugly. I watched people she worked with go crazy as she waved me off of their products. The fact of the matter was that I made decisions that benefited her company with millions in sales because of the fact that Anne made sure I left there with something I liked, not something she wanted me to have. I trusted her because of that and we are great friends to this day.
The relationship with the consumer is sacred and should be treated as such. If we do anything to break that trust, we will suffer for it in the long run. I know we get our people excited about a new line, a particular brand is hot, the marketing for a product is driving interest, etc., but at the end of the day NOTHING should take priority over making sure the consumer is exactly where THEY want to be.
Is this a problem at retail today? Are we being honest with the consumer in our approach to selling them? Tell me in the comments section or send a tweet to @joplinquinn.