I go to REI yesterday to exchange a pair of Oboz hiking shoes for a wider pair on what was Day 2 of their retail reopening. I had purchased Oboz because a friend, Skip, told me a wonderful story about his buying experience. If you read my previous two posts you’ll recognize Skip as an Oboz “Advocate.” Skip went to REI having done some research but uncommitted to a brand (he likes researching things). His salesman was of a certain age – not an age you’d associate with lots of rigorous hiking – but Skip’s a mensch and didn’t hold it against him. Good thing.
The dude tells Skip he’s been in the shoe business his whole life, sharing bits of his resume. Then he goes on to tell the Oboz story, highlighting their special “O Fit Insole” and all the other cool, comfort and durability features. Skip was sold and now swears they are the most comfortable hiking shoes he’s ever owned.
My shopping experience was different. I had picked up my Oboz the day before, sight unseen due to the Virus, and was returning them to get a wider size. Arriving in the shoe area I was met by a very nice young saleswoman. She knew her brands, models names and sizes. She went back to the store room and returned with my wider shoes. Then she slid the shoes to me across the floor. (Perhaps as instructed.) This saleswomen though simply transacting business had an opportunity to work me a bit. Maybe even turn me into an advocate. But she did not. It was a lost opportunity.
This is a tale of two sales people. One I’d never met but who had a multiplier effect on a Oboz sale and likely hundreds more. The other was a transactor of business. Friendly and efficient.
Just as there are two types of sales people there are also two types of marketing: the “slide the product” and the “engage and educate” the consumer. Which makes more sense?