Sales; the last frontier, or so my current employers think.
In an interesting turn of events, three management types encouraged me to lie as part of my standard script this week. They were all panicked at the impending arrival of even more important management types, scrabbling to cover any visible holes, and so did a wee role-play. My task was to correctly (ahem) divert attention away from one product onto another, with the goal of selling the second. I guess it goes without saying that the second is more profitable.
My view is that selling is about fulfilling a need. In the case of, say, wine, the need is more subtle than one might think. More subtle and also multi-layered. As a luxury item, there is no need for wine other than those we create. The need for alcohol is one not so shiny part of the decision to buy, and is the easiest to sell, because it sells itself.
No, it’s the social and intellectual needs that are harder to nail down. Wanting to appear knowledgeable, worldly, sophisticated (whatever that means) superior, tasteful and part of an elite drive the choice of one particular bottle over another.
The difficulty in attempting to overtly sell to any one of those edifying aspirations is that it also involves the opinions of third parties, and their tastes and biases. I’ll give you an example.
A woman wants to buy wine for a dinner party. She’s preparing supper for her best friend and her husband, and of course herself and her husband. That’s four different tastes and biochemistries, four different palates, four different senses of smell, four different tasting histories. Thai people, for instance will have a different taste history from Esquimaux, and that will affect their enjoyment of an individual wine apart from the pure nose and taste.
So the woman wants to impress someone with some wines that complement the food. She wants to move up from her usual $10 per bottle wine into something more expensive. Without tasting, she won’t even know how she likes the wine, let alone her husband and guests. This doesn’t even start with the perception of name, label, bottle style, fame of winemaker and so on. It’s a quagmire of mantraps…or wine-sales traps.
The salesmen then resorts to creativity – lies – to reassure the customer that all the above needs will be met, with the most profitable bottle possible inside her budget. It’s a fools errand. One example of such a lie, as recommended by my employer, is: This one used to be my favorite (the non-preferred purchase) but this (thrusting bottle into uneasy customer’s hand) is now.
It’s dishonest, cheesy, short-sighted and plain low-rent. I’ll have no truck with this junk.