Cover Story: The New Art of Selling
“You can walk up to a customer and say, ‘Hi,’ or even say something completely outrageous and their comeback will be, ‘I’m just looking,’” said Bjorn Dybdahl, owner of Bjorn’s in San Antonio. “It’s an automated response to a salesperson. How do you overcome this impression the person has that you’re a salesperson? ... It’s like customers have a force field around them, a barrier, and you’re trying to get through.”
In an autumn when bad economic news has been trumped only by the next day’s worse economic news, that barrier has become noticeably more impenetrable. Consumers are increasingly cautious about parting with their cash or acquiring more debt, especially for big-ticket items. Out at Bjorn’s, those spending jitters were on full display in early October, said James Pool, Bjorn’s top salesperson for two years running.
“I had a $7,500 flat-panel sale on a Sunday that was supposed to go out on Wednesday,” said Pool. “Come the day of the delivery, I get a call from the son and they cancelled the delivery. He said his mother had watched CNN and saw someone say you should hold off on big purchases. I talked with him about other options, but he said she was sure. I expect there’ll be more of that.”