Sell me (translation: help me buy)

One of the things that I’ve noticed about being away is that everyone seems to be selling something here. It’s a big contrast to home where I’ll often go into a store and feel like I’m ignored.

On this trip to date, we’ve visited Thailand and Cambodia – where we’re constantly solicited for tuk-tuk rides (small modified-scooter taxis), tailored suits, massages, tours and to come into restaurants. I like everyone’s hustle here. At the same time, I’m not going to lie – it gets a little tiring to be asked if I need a tuk-tuk every 20 steps.

There’s a distinct difference between buying and being sold. Being sold feels a lot like being solicited for a tuk-tuk ride every 5 metres – you don’t necessarily want it, and you’re mostly just tired of hearing it.

Buying can be an entirely different experience. If you’re buying, you know you want (or need) something. If you’re ignored or belittled in the buying experience, you’re likely to go somewhere else – especially when there are lots of other options.

Earlier this year, I finally bought myself the exact headboard I’ve been wanting for years. It was the final step in making my place feel like a home.

I knew exactly what I wanted. I searched the internet for prices and designs, but I wanted to buy it locally. I wanted to see it and touch it – a headboard was one of those things I want to buy once and keep it for a long time, so I wanted to make sure I got it right.

I went to a few local furniture stores where they basically ignored me. I then went into Hotchkiss Home Furnishings where a young woman greeted me when I walked in, asked if she could help me with anything, and I told her I was ‘just looking around’ – typical shopper speak for: I want to check things out a bit and decide if this is the place for me before I ask questions. That’s my personal preference, while many others want to ask their questions right away – a good salesperson can spot the difference in what the person is looking for right away.

She did just that.

‘Sounds good, I’ll be just around the corner if you need anything’.

She kept an eye on me, and when she knew I was looking for her, came over and helped with my questions. She took me to the discount section to compare prices and quality. I finally settled on the exact one I had been looking for – or maybe it was exactly what I was looking for because I had such a positive buying experience. She wasn’t forceful, though willing to answer my many questions, look over potential nightstands to match and ensure my expectations were met. I’m sure she made a commission from it, and I was happy about that – she helped me find exactly what I was looking for and this headboard continues to make my morning every morning that I’m home when I sit in bed, drink a coffee and read.

This was the part I loved about selling (helping people buy) thermal analysis equipment. The awesomely diverse people I spoke with were, for various reasons, needing to analyze thermal properties. The first call – known as the ‘qualification’ call – was to determine whether I could help them or not. If I couldn’t, no problem – thanks for your time and best wishes finding what you need. If I could help them, it was exciting to help determine if our instrument would be the best fit for their complex needs. I loved winning sales because it meant I helped researchers in various fields further their research objectives. I always thought of my job as helping people buy.

Here’s to a day when sales is no longer a dirty word!

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