Why I Can’t Sell Flowers…

My sister once took a seasonal job with a national flower sales company.  You know, the kind you call the day before your wedding anniversary, hoping to avoid month-long banishment to the doghouse.  She told me that the sales approach they taught was very different from anything she was used to. 

After asking the initial question of ‘What occasion can I help you with today?’, the very next question they were taught to ask was ‘May I have your credit card number?’  I was shocked at this type of sales technique.  The obvious goal was to try to get the customer on the hook before they even knew what they were buying.  The next step was as insidious as the first.  They were supposed to recommend the most expensive arrangement of flowers available, without asking the customer for any more detailed information regarding the occasion or recipient.  She went on to explain that the customer was never told the price of the flowers until AFTER the order had been placed and a confirmation number given.  Of course, savvy customers could start asking about price anytime along the way, but I shudder to think of the angry responses my sister got when potential (but not probable) customers found out that they were about ready to pay $97.36 for a simple arrangement of flowers.  I hope she never got any responses like this…

Needless to say, this is NOT the approach we take here at EXAIR.  Our first and foremost goal is figure out what the best solution is for any given application AND any given customer.  In the course of talking with a customer about a nozzle to use with a part rejection application, a fellow once told me “Just give me one.”  I had to chuckle when I heard that imagining one possible outcome.  Since the part weighed only a couple of ounces, had I taken the flower company’s approach and sold the customer the biggest, baddest, most expensive nozzle we make, the part would have wound up across the room instead of in the rejection bin.

Another thing that bothered me about the flower company’s approach was that for every step of the process, the salesperson was prompted with a word-for-word question or statement to respond with.  Could you imagine trying to help one of your customers if you were trained not to listen carefully and respond to their needs, but simply parrot back a statement?  You know eventually it’s going to permutate into something terribly wrong and you’re going to get a voicemail like this…

So if you’ve got a unique manufacturing problem that needs a unique solution, just give me a call.  While I might not ever be able to cut it at the flower company, I can sleep easily at night knowing 1) I haven’t sold anyone anything they didn’t really want in the first place and 2) there is little chance that any of my customers will ever have a scientist reprogram their brains for laser-robot communications.

Dan Preston
Design Engineer

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