Every few months I find myself making the four-hour trek from my home in southern California over to Las Vegas. Sometimes I go there to speak at or to attend someone’s marketing event, for years it was twice a year it’s to host my own Weekend Marketer Workshop (I moved it to Manhattan Beach, California several years ago), and once in a while, it’s just to see a show and enjoy some time away from my business with friends, family members, or even by myself. No matter what takes me there, I always enjoy stretching my legs at the outlet stores about a hundred miles outside of Vegas.
On my most recent trip I stopped at the Tanger Fashion Outlets to make a phone call, check my email messages, and take a short break before continuing for the last ninety minutes or so of my drive. I wasn’t looking for anything in particular so I went into a shoe store to browse, used the restroom, and headed back to the other side of the parking lot to get going on my way once again. I walked by the sunglass outlet store, checked my watch to make sure I was still on schedule and ducked inside for a quick look.
First, I’ll give a little history about me and sunglasses. Years ago, I learned that it was important to protect our eyes from the sun’s harmful UV rays, so I vowed to always wear quality sunglasses when I was out in the sun. Over the years I would purchase two pairs on sale, and then carefully use them interchangeably until they were both completely worn out. I’m proud to say that I have only lost one pair during my entire life, and that is most probably because I use one of those leather eyeglass leashes at all times to keep track of them. That one time they must have slipped out and dropped without my knowledge.
About a month before this most recent trip my last pair broke in a way that could not be repaired (one of the arms snapped in the middle), causing me great pain as I lamented the loss of sunglasses I truly loved. This led to my going online to search for a quality pair to replace them, but I was shocked at the prices and kept putting it off. I had been wearing an old pair I had stuffed away in my sock drawer but really wanted a brand new pair of polarized, UV glasses that would serve me well for the next few years.
So, when I entered the outlet store on that sunny spring day and breathed in the smell of designer plastic, I was in heaven. Four young sales girls stood ready to help me and one of them moved in closer to greet me. I told her I was looking for a pair of Ray-Bans, and she directed me to a corner with about a dozen pairs on display. As I tried on several pairs, I carefully looked at the price tag before sliding them atop my nose. I wasn’t about to fall in love with something way out of my price range.
At some point, I was aware of a woman about my age observing me interact with the sales girl. I was just about to thank the girl and head out of the store when the woman approached us. I still had the last pair of glasses in my hand when she spoke.
“Those seem a little sporty, don’t you think?”
I was taken aback. I could be sporty. It was possible. Who was this person, commenting on my taste without even knowing me?
“Yes, I like sporty”, I found myself mumbling. I was looking down and enjoying my last seconds with the sunglasses that would not be mine.
“Your coloring is similar to mine. That color frame will wash you out and make you appear yellowish”.
“Oh?” The ones I was holding were the most gorgeous shade of light green.
“You’ll want something darker, and that model of Ray Bans doesn’t offer UV protection, either.”
I slipped them back onto the display case and slowly said, “I could be sporty, and I like that style.”
The woman, who still had not identified herself to me, moved in closer and stared me down.
“Then you’ll want these.”
She thrust a pair at me, and I could clearly see the word “Oakley” on their rim. Her outstretched arm revealed a delicate gold bracelet with the initial “J” at the top.
“They are perfect for your coloring, are polarized and have UV protection, and because they are a discontinued style, they are only sixty-two ninety-nine today. They normally retail for two hundred forty dollars.”
She stepped back, and I was suddenly aware that my mouth was open. Who was this woman? She had observed that I was brand driven, price conscious, and obviously in need of a new pair of glasses, all within a few minutes.
“I’m Jill, the manager of the store. Let me show you something else.”
“Thank you”, I stammered, feeling like I had been reduced to a glob of jelly in her presence. She was good at this. Very good.
Jill held up a picture of a parrot in a small frame. Without sunglasses, the picture was gray and flat and dim. She motioned for me to put on the Oakley sunglasses again and I obeyed. Instantly the parrot was brightly colored and seemed to have three-dimensional texture as well.
I reached out to touch it, sure that it was some kind of magic. We were pretty close to Las Vegas.
“How does it do that?” I asked.
“It’s the polarization, protecting your eyes from the sun’s harmful rays and letting the safe, natural light in.”
I was dumbfounded. This was polarization? I thought I knew what that was, but Jill was educating me about this in a way that felt comfortable and not like I was a dummy.
“Many people confuse polarization with UVA or UVB protection. It’s a natural mistake.” She held the parrot picture up at a different angle and my eyes followed.
Jill had disarmed me completely, rendering me childlike in my responses. I was putty in her hands. I did the only thing I could, reaching inside my purse for a credit card.
“I’ll take them.”
She smiled knowingly and gestured for me to follow her to the cash register. I again noticed the four young salesgirls, who were studying this encounter as though the details of it were going to be on an exam after I left the store.
“You’ll also want this cleaning kit.”
She held open a small brown box, pulled out a cloth, sprayed it with something, and expertly wiped the glasses clean, all within about ten seconds.
It was all that I could say, and I hoped it didn’t cost too much. Again, she read my mind.
“It’s only four ninety-five, and you can take it in to any of our stores nationwide for free refills.”
Of course, you could! Jill knew her products like she knew the back side of her hand, and more importantly, she knew people.
I could not resist finding out more about who she was and why she happened to be in the middle of the desert selling sunglasses.
For the next twenty minutes or so Jill and I talked about what had just happened. She was not a salesperson by trade, but after being downsized by one company and laid off by another she finally took this job to make ends meet. It turned out she was a natural, and soon this store became the top-selling one in the territory. I’m not sure how many states that covers, but it sounded huge the way she described it.
She broke down her philosophy for me in a few short sentences.
“I tell the girls to observe the customer for a few minutes before moving in. They quickly find out their wants and needs and also their objections. Then they make a couple of recommendations and wait for the customer to respond. I tell them to not overthink it; it’s just sunglasses!”
Yes, indeed. I learned a little about polarization and a lot about salesmanship on this day that I wouldn’t soon forget. I also learned that I had been overthinking my life experience, and that was not working for me.
More recently, I went for my annual appointment with the ophthalmologist, with the intention of getting a pair of prescription sunglasses. As a marketer, I am keenly aware of how people at any business will lead me through the process of making a final purchase. Usually, I’m not impressed by the steps they take to move me from where I was originally to where I’ll be when I leave the establishment.
This team of people, from the person who greeted me when I first arrived, to the doctor, and everyone in between did an outstanding job, and I ended up ordering three new pairs of glasses as a result.
Why is this so important? We must observe our own and other’s behavior, both face-to-face and online, in order to better understand how to interact with the prospects who will be considering the products, courses, and programs we create. We will always be our own best Case Study, and I encourage you to pay attention to how you react, behave, and finally take action (or not) with everything that comes into your life experience. It’s fun, and will definitely increase your bottom line in your business.
I’m Connie Ragen Green, an online marketing strategist, bestselling author, and international speaker who helps new online entrepreneurs build profitable businesses they can run from home, or from wherever they happen to be. Let’s connect, so you may find out how you can do the same thing.