I’m going to tell you a story.
About 30 years ago, I decided to open a retail store selling vacuum cleaners. I wanted to learn how to do that from someone respected in the business I chose. So I asked several people (in the retail vacuum cleaner business) who they thought could teach me. They all said one thing “Whatever you do, don’t go see this one guy. That guy is evil”
So now…I had to meet him.
I walked into his store, asked to talk to him, and told him that I wanted to work for him. He said “I have 5 guys working the floor. I have no openings. Sorry”
And here is what I said;
“I want to open a store like yours. You are the guy I want to learn from.
I’ll make you a deal….pay me whatever you want….straight commission, small salary, nothing…I don’t care. I’m here to learn from you.
I’ll work with you for 6 months however you want to do it. I won’t take any sales away from your employees. I’ll make you money. I just want to learn how to do what you do”
He sat back in his chair for a minute. I knew I would get what I came for. He had nothing to lose and everything to gain.
He said “Ok. I’ll pay you a commission on what you sell. And I’ll teach you everything you need to know. Just don’t take any sales away from any of my salespeople on the floor…..and agree that you will open a store at least 25 miles away”. “Done” I said.
He ended up giving me a very generous pay. It took me a week or so to figure out how I was going to make sales without taking sales away from his other guys..but it worked out fine.
That first week, I had no sales. After all..I wasn’t allowed to take any “ups” from the other salespeople. But I noticed that the people were bringing vacuum cleaners in for repair, and the repair technician was talking to those customers…and the salespeople were ignoring these people.
So I asked the repair guy how he got paid. He made an hourly wage and told me that if the repair was $50 or more, he made 1o% of the repair as a commission. So I asked him “How would you like to get paid for doing the repair, but not actually have to do any work?” Of course, he was interested in that.
I said “Every time you get a vacuum cleaner in for repairs, that you price out at $50 or more, come and get me…and introduce me to the customers.If they buy a vacuum cleaner from me, and trade in their old one (that was already there for repairs) I’ll pay you what you normally would have made on that repair. Fair enough?”
I instantly started making over $1,000 a week, in the early 1980’s…selling vacuum cleaners out of a small store in Barberton Ohio….simply by taking these repair customers and selling them a new vacuum cleaner.
Now, why did this work so well?
The repair person just got done showing them everything wrong with their vacuum cleaner, and told them how much it would cost to fix. In many cases, it was over $100. But it was always at least $50. And their vacuum was beaten up and older anyway. It was the perfect time for them to trade it in, an they could take the new vacuum cleaner with them, and not have to wait for parts to get in to fix their old machine.
I know…you don’t sell vacuum cleaners. But think of the principle. Does your company or business offer service after the sale? Are there ever customer service problems?
Not every problem can be solved by buying something new. But most problems your customers have can be solved by upgrading to a better product/service….one better suited to their needs.
A sympathetic ear…listening to their problem, and making an educated and welcomed suggestion is usually all that’s needed. And they have already bought from your company before. They are used to buying from your company. And now they can do that again, and get even more benefits. And the best time in the world for them to buy is when what they have now no longer works…or when there is new technology that works better.
For many of us, the best source of new customers is our list of established customers…that need our help. Go and do likewise, my friend.