Thursday, March 27, 2008


Can you force a shear down the throat of a customer? Of course not! But can you try to help a customer solve a problem? Absolutely! Trouble is, some customers can't see the forest for the trees and don't recognize a good deal when they see it.

I was talking with Bobby Huffman the other day. He was telling me a story that fits this post well. He stopped in at a barber in one of the towns he sharpens in. They are good for three or four blades every time he drives by, so he always pulls in. While there, the barber asked if he sold switch blades. Bobby said no and asked why. The barber said, "I just bought eight of these things and none of them want to work." Bobby expressed his sympathy and told him he could try sharpening them, but the charge is $8.00 a piece. The barber about passed out. "I PAID $8.00 for the new switch blades!" So Bobby suggested calling the supplier to see if they could be returned and went out to his rig to sharpen some blades.

When Bobby finished sharpening, he grabbed one of the shears he sells and went back in. He handed the blades to the barber along with the shear. The first thing out of the barber's mouth was, "How much is this shear?" Bobby answered, "Don't worry about the price, try cutting with them first." He did and they cut great. Again he asked how much. Bobby said, "They usually retail for $65.00, but I'll sell them to you for $50.00 because of all the trouble you're having with those switch blades." Again the barber almost passed out, "$50.00! That's way too much!" Bobby said, "For $50.00 dollars you can solve your problem and you'll have a shear that can be maintained for years." The barber wouldn't have it. So Bobby took back the shear, collected his money for the blades he sharpened and hit the road shaking his head.

Now was this a foolish decision on the part of the barber? Sure. Was it the barber's decision to make? Yup! Could Bobby have done anything different? Maybe. He could have argued more, but what would that have accomplished? He may have made a sale, but that wasn't the only point. Bobby was trying to help. The barber didn't want to be helped (at least right then). So Bobby moved on. Bobby understands! He didn't make the sale this time, but next time he stops in he'll ask about those switch blades. If the barber is still having trouble, he'll try to help again. Offer to help enough people enough times and the sales will come. But remember, not everyone will be willing to accept your help. But that shouldn't keep you from offering it! :)

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