Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The value of face to face selling

Personally I'm in the mail order business and the closest I usually get to customer contact is the telephone. But yesterday I had a walk in customer and a sale was made but it didn't go at all like I had expected.

Let me start with some background. A new friend who I didn't yet know very well heard that I made perfume and wanted to buy a bottle as a birthday present for his wife. I've met his wife and know a bit about her background and that small amount of knowledge gave me an impression that she might like one particular fragrance I had, one that several people had remarked upon quite favorably.

But there was one small problem. This fragrance, which I though my friend's wife would like, wasn't yet bottled. In fact, nice as it was, I had been planning to plan with it a bit more before I declared it finished.

But, with the customer in mind, I went ahead and produced one bottle, reasoning that even if my friend didn't want it for his wife, I could use that bottle for photography. So when he showed up I was ready with my four different women's fragrances and a pad of the aerosol testing blotters I use with spray perfumes.

I turned out that my friend has a very good nose -- probably much better than my own. And, instead of rushing to judgement, he sprayed four blotters and let them stand for a while while we talked. (Have you ever seen anyone doing that at a perfume counter?)

Then he evaluated the blotters, and ranked the fragrances by his preferences. I was stunned! My pick for his wife cane in last! And, in first place, he selected (and purchased) a fragrance which I personally like a lot because of certain images it conjures up for me, but which hasn't set the world on fire (yet,) probably because it is clearly a step away from today's main stream perfumes.

So a sale was made but, more important, a perfumer got a bit of education as to how a very honest, straightforward, customer with a good nose viewed his creations.

Now I await his wife's judgement.