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The question was asked in a crowd of about 350 people: “Who can remember meeting a really good salesperson?” It wasn’t a business meeting, it wasn’t a test. “You know, someone who you trusted, someone you believed?” the speaker prompted. No one raised their hands. In trying to make one point about memory, the speaker made another about salesmanship: it’s becoming a lost art.

Back in the day, I managed a million dollar department for the finest department store in our region. I trained, measured and evaluated my staff daily on achieving service goals: How long did it take to greet each customer? Did they talk about product features and benefits? Did they answer questions? Did they offer additional suggestions? Did they thank the customer by name? Customers became friends who brought us Christmas cards and cookies on our birthdays.

If you visit our malls today you’ll find big gaping holes where this retailer once lived. The company no longer exists. Heck, some of the malls no longer exist. Beyond retail saturation and recessions, the service climate has changed dramatically. When Ms. Jones can find a salesperson, they are more likely to be a cashier than a capable and caring expert. Their walkie talkies and ear buds connect them to the mother ship yet they’re strangely disconnected from the real person right in front of them.

Isn’t it fun to poke holes and point fingers at the service in other stores? After all, they make it so easy.

What would Ms. Jones say about you? Do your objective answers, knowledge of your product and expertise about your area establish trust? Does your sincerity, availability and transparency establish rapport? Do you make it easy for her to find assistance and information, or are you aggressive?

Take a new look at your old ways (or hire someone else to do it for you). Would Ms. Jones remember you and raise her hand?

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