The Bed Expert: Have you had the five classic lines?

Vic Smith, owner of independent beds retailer Vic Smith Beds, talks about what to do when the “stupid” customer walks in.

So, we’ve all been there when the stupid customer walks through the door – stupid, imbecile, moron, time waster, whatever you want to call them. They tend to walk in and say the five classic lines, which are:

No1… There’s nothing wrong with my bed.

No2… My bed is 20 years old and is as good as the day I bought it.

No3… My side is fine, but his side is collapsed.

No4… Oh, I thought they would be cheaper. I’ll wait till it goes down in the sale.

No5… If I buy three, how much cheaper can you do it for me? But I only want one now and then I will come back for the other two.

Things are tough out there in the world of retail, and we all know people’s funds are limited, but what we are also forgetting at times is people’s perceptions of what things should cost.

For us in the world of beds, we are seeing the above type of customer time and time again, who feel they should be investing more in their television, the sofa or their car! It’s our job to educate the customer, but without patronising them.

At the end, you should be handing them a receipt and they should be shaking your hand, because you have helped them to see the wood for the trees. People are nervous – and it’s your job not to see them as a stupid customer – but more, how am I going to turn this around? And that’s what we do – it’s far too easy to be dismissive in today’s world, but if you keep doing that, you may as well turn the key in the door because it won’t put money in the till.

Even though you may feel you can’t, you need to identify with that customer, get them on side, but without them getting so sidetracked they forget what they came in for. Customers want to be heard and want to feel as though they are right. Your job is to negotiate, but do it so that everyone comes out happy.

Think about what your “stock set of lines / comments” should be to the above, so that it doesn’t make you come across as the smarmy salesman on commission, but more for them to hear what you are saying. Then the lightbulb moment goes on in their head, which is where, for them, they realise that their comments are wrong, and then you can step in to help.

There’s an expression doing the rounds at the moment – “after value”. And that’s what we need to impart to our customers. It’s not just the amount being spent, but the value it brings after. Be that longer lasting, better support for your back, cost per use. We all know how much better we feel after a good night’s sleep. I could go on, but you need to tailor this to your line of business. And your take away from the “after value” – they should be recommending you, which in turn is bringing in more customers through your door, but hopefully not numbers 1 – 5!

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