if the shoe fits

Imagine for a moment that you work as a sales consultant in a shoe store. A tired looking man enters, dragging his beat up shoes as he shuffles in. The soles are worn, the once fine leather on the arch is dry and cracked. It’s a tough economy so you make the assumption that he’s ‘just browsing,’ nod hello and return to stocking the shelves.

Another enters behind in a pair of stylish boots. The leather has recently been polished, the laces still stiff and tight. This seems like a better prospect so you turn and warmly great the woman, quickly showing her the newest styles you’ve just received – she obviously loves her footwear.

In both cases, making a quick decision about a prospect’s needs, without taking the time to listen, can result in disaster. Everyone in Alberta feels tension about the current economy, and it’s comfortable to just return to the tried and true – return to stocking your shelves, or pushing a solution that’s not a good fit, but when sales people make dismissive assumptions it can cost more than a sale. It can cost relationships, future opportunities, perhaps even your business.

There is no denying that certain areas of employment are down in Alberta, such as oil & gas, hospitality, and manufacturing, but overall employment in Alberta was up 2.5% in April 2015 over April 2014. Both the utilities and the transportation & warehousing sectors saw increases in the double digits. As sales people we must take the time to discover the need before offering a solution – even if the solution does turn out to be ‘now is not the right time for our services’.

The shuffling man has worn out shoes because he has been run off his feet. His business is growing, his staffing needs are expanding, and he hasn’t had time to stop and think about his wardrobe in months. Suddenly he looks and down and realizes he needs new shoes and he needs them now. This could mean a great sale – provided you don’t make any quick judgements based on fears about the overall economic situation.

The woman in the polished boots has been very slow at work, leaving plenty of time to spit shine, but that doesn’t mean she hasn’t got a need. If we take the time to engage her, the time to turn things over, we might discover the hole on the bottom of her boot. New boots might not be the right option, but perhaps the ones she has could be resoled.

In our large and shifting economy there are many needs. The most important task for Diversified Staffing Account Consultants, and anyone in a sales or customer service role, is to listen for the customers need, to offer the best solution that fits that need, because everyone can walk a little taller in the right pair of shoes.

For more information from Stats Canada about industry specific information please click here: