Sunday, May 06, 2007

Fear of salespeople

I am wondering if it is a particularly American thing to be reluctant to talk to salespeople. I will admit to visiting car dealerships only on Sundays until I am ready to engage in the battle of wits.

I wrote about auto buying in America in the "That peculiarly American dance, the auto two-step." Still I like talking to good salespeople who know their products.

That's probably the reason that I avoid many of the big box sales people in electronics stores since it is so rare that they know their products. There are exceptions to the rules as I found in my purchase of one of the HP all-in-one printer, scanner, copiers.

Actually I have always considered myself something of a knowledge sponge, willing to soak up whatever wisdom I can glean from an expert. In real estate, we have used a Realtor® every Itime we bought a place but once. That once reinforced my belief in using Realtors®.

I have been in sales most of my adult life. Even when I was farming for eleven years, sales was never very far in the background. I firmly believe that sales done right is an honorable career.

I have found that in most cases, people have already sold themselves by the time they reach a sales person. The best that a sales person can do is make certain they do not end up buying the wrong product and become unhappy.

I am sure there are plenty of sleazy sales people in the world, but I cannot believe that people have become so divorced from their critical thinking skills that people ignore the opportunity to learn valuable information from people who actually know what they are talking about when it comes to a particular product.

We are almost ready to buy a boat, and I have been wandering around boat show rooms for months since I know almost nothing about boats. Aside from one guy who tried to convince me that if I bought a skiff I would stay wet all the time, the salespeople and nearly half have been women have been very knowledgeable and helpful. In fact most of them haven't been real sales folks since I have gotten almost zero follow-up on my visits. That includes email requests for pricing which have mostly been ignored.

I recently had another experience which made me wonder how some people make decisions. I was participating in a forum where people are trying to find out about cities and towns where they either live or might want to live. Though I thought I was being very careful to adhere to the rules of the forum, one of which was not advertising my services as a Realtor®. I was, however, uncomfortable with people not knowing that I was a Realtor® when I was talking about real estate. I ended up being banished from the forum by what was likely an over zealous moderator who I am sure thought he was protecting people from me. Unfortunately for the readers, I was just trying to help some people learn the facts instead of hearsay.

I have a long history of posts about Apple and their computer products. I recently did a post about my letters to a friend who was considering buying a Mac. A couple of my readers there have suggested that I was doing everything I could to stop him from buying a Mac. Actually all I was doing was making sure that he went into the purchase with his eyes wide open.

In the end his friendship is worth more to me than whether he buys a Macintosh or not. I could tell from his letters that he has already decided to do it, so he might as well know the complete truth about the products instead of the Apple fanboy version of reality. Sugar coating the truth would only lead him to question our friendship.

It's easy to own one product and think that you have had the greatest experience in the world as an owner or user. When you have been involved in the industry or had a history with a particular company, things might not look so rosy.

I will no longer buy a Volvo, and I know a couple of Volvo owners who say the same thing. I only got to that point on my third Volvo. I will not buy a Maytag washer or dryer no matter how many cute the commercials they run are. If my current Apple MacBook breaks again, I might well buy a HP or Sony Laptop. In spite of what some of the Mac users want to believe the reality is that the reliability on my recent Apple purchases has not been good, and dealing with Apple on them has not been a lot of fun.

Still having said that, I am not afraid to engage a salesperson for Volvos. A good one would run back to the company and tell them how they lost someone who could have been a Volvo customer for life.

In this age of full disclosure on the Internet and with the power of Google, I find it hard to believe that there are people who are still afraid of being tricked by Realtors®. I spent nearly three years trying to find the right spot on the Crystal Coast. It was only with the help of a true local expert and Realtors® that we found it.

Expertise might be hard to find, but anonymous expertise is impossible to find. Engage the salespeople and learn what you can. You might find someone whose knowledge keeps you from making a mistake.

If you want to know about living along North Carolina's secret coast, the Crystal Coast, visit my website, "Coastal Paradise." I promise not to sell you anything since the facts speak for themselves, and you might even learn something from someone who is learning from the real local experts as fast as he can.

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