It was June of 03 and I had just arrived at the hotel. I was unpacking my things and preparing for the trade show. I was excited to be back in Boston. I love Boston. I was beginning to review my schedule for the next day when I noticed my Palm Treo was almost completely out of juice. Normally it can carry a charge for days, so I didn’t bring the charger. It was only going to be a two day trip. In and out. I carried everything in my Palm. My notes, my phone numbers, and most importantly my schedule for the next two days was in that device. I had to charge it.
The next day on the conference floor I asked around. You’d think, someone would have a Palm Treo charger. It’s 2003, Palm was killing it. Clearly not the case at this event. Desperate, I find a Franklin Covey store. I walk in and go directly to the counter. I know what I’m looking for. Behind the counter is the clerk. He greets me with a smile. He has a nice warm and engaging demeanor. I tell him that I need a charger. He asks what kind of Palm I have. I hand him my Treo, he opens the case looks at it and says he has a charger. Yes!
The clerk returns a few minutes later with the charger. He rings me up and asks if I need anything else; nice up sell. I say no, I’m all set. He asks again, but this time specifically asks if would like a new case.
A new case? I have a case, it’s in good condition and he sees that. I say no with a bit of an attitude. The clerk then looks at me and asks why I’m buying a charger. I’m getting a bit irritated with his questions. I have what I came for. I have what I need, so it’s time to close out this transaction. I answer him anyway and explain I left my charger at home and my battery already ran out. He then looks at me and asks a very interesting question.
He asks: “Did your battery run out from being in your briefcase?”
I said; “yes”
He continued; “When you put it in your briefcase or bag, does the Treo case sometimes push down on the buttons leaving them depressed for a longtime, therefore wearing down the battery?”
Surprised, I said; “Yes, that is EXACTLY what happens. It pisses my off.”
The clerk then turned away. Walked over to the wall, just behind the counter and grabbed a case. He laid it in front of me. It was the exact same case I was currently using. Same brand, color, everything. That is, until he opened it. He took the case out of the package and opened it up. Inside were 4 cut outs that mirrored the buttons on the Treo. They were cut out so the buttons could not be depressed when pressure was applied to the case. Apparently, I wasn’t the only person having that problem. No more accelerated battery drainage.
I looked at the clerk. He looked at me. I smiled. I bought the case. I thanked him. He thanked me for my business.
As customers we don’t always know what we want. Sometimes we think we do, but we’re wrong. Not only are we wrong, but we can be pains in the ass about it. Learning to sell to a customer who thinks they have what they need is a rare skill. It takes talent, and finesse.
I learned it from a Franklin Covey Store, sales clerk. Where did you learn it?