[dropcap]H[/dropcap]ere’s something that I’ll bet has happened to all of you: you’re right in the middle of a sales pitch, trying to get a customer to part with some of his hard earned dollars, and you’re making great progress, when you hear a musical interlude, or a whistle, or some other annoying sound effect coming from his (or her) pocket.
It’s his portable communication device, or as we call it, annoyance unit. Now you have to stop right in the middle of your presentation and watch him cool down, suddenly distracted by whatever outside problems have suddenly intruded into your economic endeavors by way of his cell phone. You may never get back to where you were in the sales process, as the client’s focus is now far away, and he’s got more seemingly important affairs than buying a motorcycle from you, here, today.
And, of course, customers also use the cell phone as a way to peruse other shop’s inventory, checking pricing and availability of the unit they are looking at. Or trying on a helmet or jacket while checking online for better deals on the same items.
All of this has been talked about by wiser people than myself. At my store, we try to appeal to the immediacy of getting the merchandise right here, right now. Kill them with service, kindness and smiles. And hope that the helmet they saved $50 on online comes to them in the wrong color.
Staff perusing their cell phone for entertainment has also become a problem, from playing games to looking at the latest crotch hits on YouTube. And it’s almost impossible to police something that’s so small and easily hidden.
I have often played with the idea of installing a cell phone jamming device in my store, but, of course, I find myself relying on it more and more for business purposes. Maybe I’m part of the problem. Cell phones are a useful tool, but I’m finding them more and more annoying as time goes on.
Which brings me to the problems I found at AIMExpo when I was there. The first day wasn’t so bad, but as time went on, I discovered that many booths were manned by single staff members who in the past were ready to tell you about their latest, greatest product. By the second day, however, I found many of them were on their phones, texting someone (to be fair, they could have been texting a potential customer about a huge order, but I somehow doubt it), looking at cute cat videos, or some such exciting drivel.
Several times, I walked into a booth, perused the entire booth, picked up or fondled several items, some of them perhaps sellable in my store, but the staffer in that booth was too busy looking at the phone screen, doing whatever was more important than talking to me. I always left without intruding on their privacy. I swear I could have made off with thousands of dollars in product, and they never would have known until they packed up.
These were booths paid for by a company that went to a lot of trouble to get organized, set up, and staffed to help merchandise its product to the hundreds of potential clients who attend this show, both wholesale and retail. Perhaps the person in the booth was the owner of the business, and he’d made so many sales that he decided to coast for the rest of the show. I have found, however, that entrepreneurs who build companies to sell their creations have a laser-like focus on their products. They have made many sacrifices getting them out in the world, they work hard and are consumed by achieving success, so I don’t believe that the ones ignoring me were the owners of the company.
It’s all just sad, and I don’t know what we can do about it. Maybe someone out there has a solution. Maybe it’s just the way of the future, and I should just get used to it.
Or maybe I’ll just get one of those cell phone jammers. And carry it around with me wherever I go.
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