Retail Advice – What They Say About Assumptions


Doesn’t it bug you when people push their own values on you? After all, just because something is important to them doesn’t mean it’s important to me.  I don’t think they should tell me what I should value and I shouldn’t tell them, either.

 That’s certainly happening in political conversations right now, but I’m talking about retail salespeople.  That’s right, too many retail salespeople are pushing their own personal values on customers, assuming they know what their customers are thinking, and it’s costing retailers both customers and sales.

 Last week I was shopping in the men’s department of a national department store.  As I browsed I asked the salesperson, “So these are $80?”  She immediately said, “Oh don’t worry, we have cheaper shirts.  Let me show you these over here that are on sale.”  Fine, but I hadn’t said I wanted to look at less expensive shirts.  I wanted to confirm the price of the shirts I was looking at right then.

 It is important that salespeople understand what the customer’s values are and don’t let their own get in the way. Not everyone wants the cheapest price.  Most people want a good price, which isn’t necessarily the same thing as the lowest price.  Customers are looking for quality, selection, convenience and service in addition to price.  Every customer values these elements differently and we should never assume we know in what order our customer prioritizes them.

 As we’ve discussed many times over the last year, the way to determine what the customer is thinking is to ask. The salesperson helping me with the shirts should have either just answered my question and/or asked for clarification.  Either her own values or her own assumptions made her answer my question the way she did.  Never assume the customer is shopping on price alone unless they’ve told you so either verbally or non-verbally. As I noted above, most people want a good price, not simply a cheap price.

 Do yourself and your customer a favor and don’t assume you know what it is important to him/her.  Sometimes when you might ask your customer you may learn that they don’t really know but by asking good follow-up questions, together you can determine what the customer truly values.

About the Author


Doug Fleener has spoken and consulted with thousands of retail owners, executives, managers, and staff. As the former director of retail for Bose Corporation and an independent storeowner himself, Doug has the unique experience and ability to connect with all audiences.

His high-energy programs engage, educate, entertain and, most important, motivate people to take action to transform their business.





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