Meetings With Remarkable Salespeople

This is the story of a master salesperson who recently made a big impression on me. I was in Malaysia to speak at their national franchising conference. While there I bought a gong. A big, old copper thing with a deep, rich sound. We had been staying with my brother-in-law and he had a large gong in his dining room. It sounded so beautiful I decided I wanted one for my collection of musical instruments back home.

So off we went, my wife Ann and I, through the back streets of Kuala Lumpur in search of a gong. We eventually discovered a curiosity shop filled with statues, relics and exotic items. And it was here that I met a remarkable person — a Chinese woman with sparkling green eyes and a warm smile.

She listened attentively as I explained my quest and then said with quiet confidence she could help me find what I wanted. We followed her down several narrow aisles stocked from floor to ceiling with an amazing array of merchandise, down some creaky wooden stairs and past a collection of copper vases. Turning to face us she gestured toward an assortment of gongs hanging from a metal shelf. There were big gongs, little gongs, new gongs, old gongs, shallow gongs like cymbals and gongs with deep sides.

Pointing to a big old beaten copper one with an interesting shape she said, “I think you will like this one.”

Taking Product Knowledge to a New Level

I wanted to find a gong with a certain sound so I tried them all out, one at a time, including the one she had pointed to. She would patiently hold each gong by its string and I would strike it using a short stick with a padded knob. And here is the point of the story. This woman was able to describe the sound of every gong before I struck it. “This has a duller sound” or “This is higher pitched” or “This one has a longer ring”. I was amazed at her product knowledge.

“How do you know how they all sound?” I asked. “I have tried them all” she said proudly. “I make it my business to know about everything in my shop.”

I asked tentatively if she had any more. She shrugged and said “Sure, no problem”, then led us back the way we came, outside the shop and into an arcade where we climbed two dark flights of stairs. Soon we arrived at a smaller version of the shop we had just left, again filled with a huge range of handicrafts.

In the back left corner were another dozen or so gongs. I tried them all. Occasionally she would shake her head and say, “No, you won’t like this one”. When I insisted on trying it out she would graciously lift it from the rack and hold its string so I could strike it and hear for myself. Of course she was right every time and we eventually headed back to the big, old shapely copper gong she had initially recommended.

And here’s the interesting bit. This gong was three times what I had intended to pay. Naturally we haggled and, while she gave a little on the price so I could save face, she knew I would pay her asking price because she had done everything right. She knew her products inside out, she listened carefully to why I had come to her shop, and she used her product knowledge to match my needs. She was also happy to humour me until I was satisfied with my purchase. She had given me what every customer wants – a great experience. Isn’t this what we all crave when we go shopping?

And so I left her shop a happy man, with my gong under my arm. Sadly I seldom get this type of service when I shop locally. And when I do I almost always buy.

FRI Update

Speaking of great experiences — we held our Multi-Unit Summit last week. Thanks to all our amazing presenters and participants for making this our best event yet with an overall satisfaction rating of 88%. And I’m pleased to say we are donating $3900 from the registration fees to the Queensland Premier’s Disaster Relief Appeal. We also hope to have the proceedings from the Summit available shortly — we’ll keep you updated.

Until next time…

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