Article > Opinion

The Art of Selling

By Brian Cruickshank

Do you really know the differences among your "Good," "Better" and "Best" product lines? The answer rests with training.

It's been a snowy winter thus far in Northeastern Ohio. This really should be no surprise to me, since this is, after all, Northeastern Ohio. Snow, ice and that cold are all good for sales of sweaters, firewood and, of course, auto parts.

It's also a good time to get one's car washed. All that salt isn't good for the car, and being a car guy, I can't let my ride look too crummy. I have a rep to maintain, after all.

So, last week I went to Quality Scrub, the local car wash. I drove up and a young high-school kid named Cory walked up to my car with his laminated menu of car wash services. There was the "Basic Wash," the mid-level "Super Wash" and the ultra-deluxe "The Works" wash.

Not really knowing the difference among the services, I went with the middle one. This is common consumer behavior; people don't want to appear cheap, but they also don't think they need the super-deluxe service either. Given the scenario of "Good," "Better" and "Best," as was the case here, most people are inclined to go with Better. Best, most people reason, is not worth the extra money. Perhaps your own customers feel the same way.

But that's when Cory stepped in, armed with information and a sales pitch that was hard to resist. Just when I said I wanted the mid-level Super Wash, he - in a surprisingly informed and quick manner - told me all the differences between the Better and Best washes. He knew all the features and benefits. He made a good case. He knew his product.

But I relented. I really didn't need the best, so I said, 'No thanks. 'I'll just take the Super Wash.' I had resisted what was really a pretty good sell job. But just as I was thinking that, Cory shot back, "We'll do your wheels for just an extra 50 cents."

It was artful. It was compelling. It was exactly what I needed to hear for Quality Scrub to get more of my business. He did his job, his company made a little more on the sale and I was happy to have clean wheels.

It was so obvious to me that someone had properly trained Cory. Cory just didn't wake up one day and understand the differences among the car wash's products, or how upselling adds to the bottom line or a customer's level of satisfaction. I'm not sure Cory actually cares about any of these things, but the training worked nevertheless.

Sure, training is an expense. But it's one that, when done properly, will add a lot to your bottom line and your customers' experience with your business.

In the end, training pays. This year, don't just move parts - sell 'em!

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