Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Mein Kampf

This weekend was a struggle from start to finish. Rossana departed Thursday for Ohio Ren to start clean up of her and my booths. Lindsey and Jesse had to detour to Bag End to pick up aone crucial piece of equipment I had forgotten to pack for Rossana. Had to make a sign for Michigan Ren (It came out great) in addition to fixing mannequins, mirrors etc etc.

Everyone was trapped by traffic. I spend the better part of an hour roaring down unnamed Detroit streets in a mad heard of Michigan drivers who view the speed limit as a personal affront. I arrived late to site and unloaded. I get a call from Lindsey down at Ohio Ren, the phone line isn't working. Despite sending in the required bribe and battling the forces of Sprints' customer service department, we have no dial tone. Lindsey will have to call in all credit card orders.

Saturday opens with rain, both at Ohio and at Michigan. It eventually subsides but the crowds are meager. Ohio opens with 50 people at the gate. Jesus, the rennies outnumber patrons by something like 3 to 1. Every sale is a struggle, a triumph of the will. A victory of salemanship over reasoned thought. This should be easy, but everyone is tight with their money because the economy just fine according to our glorious King George.

There comes a point where you have to do whatever it takes to make sales. At one point I spent 30 minutes, an unheard of amount of time, setting up a snipe. If you've never heard the term I shall explain. A snipe is where you get a sale for yourself by getting the customer to return a competitors product. This is not easy. Not only do you have to convince them that your product is better, but you must seem like you aren't badmouthing the competitor. You have to point out the many advantages your product has and let them make their own choice. Above all, you must not lie.

I never lie when I sell. I know that seems like an obvious falsehood. After all, Steve/Erik the Bard/Dante the Daring is a master con-man, a flim-flam artist, a hustler. I'm not sure how this perception came to be but I hear it a lot from acquaintances. The fact is I never lie to customers. Ever. A lie is a nasty little vermin that, once escaped from the lips, can do untold damage. Yes, I could lie and say that our products have such and such amazing properties and my competition is a drunken wife abuser etc, etc. And although it might gain me a sale in the short term, it would surely come back to haunt me. Lies have to be kept track of, an increasingly difficult thing to do as my mental capacity shrinks with age. I have made it a point to never lie when dealing with a customer. I actually left an employer when he wanted me to make promises about delivery dates that I knew he could not keep.

So I had to use the truth and my wits to steal this sale. I spent 30 minutes giving an impromptu lesson on Elizabethan fashion, bodice construction, female anatomy and high finance in the form of our layaway program. Most customers won't stay still for 30 minutes of sales pitch but I made her an offer she couldn't refuse. I told her that if, after trying on my corset, she thought the outfit she had just purchased from a competitor looked better, I would GIVE her the $375 corset.

And I meant it.

I came up with the idea right on the spot and I must admit that it spurned me to do my best to gain her confidence and trust. She didn't believe my offer at first so I repeated it for the shop at large. They would act as impartial judges. The end result was that 10 people were captivated enough to stay through the entire pitch and in the end she returned the other outfit and put her more expensive corset on layaway with a deposit. Snipe achieved. Snipe isn't the best term but I can't think of another name. Poaching is a nice term, but poaching refers to the cardinal sin of taking a potential customer out of a fellow vendors shop. An unpardonable sin.

If you have any ideas for replacing the term 'snipe', let me know.

Everyone worked hard. Everyone had my sincere thanks. Tired now...must sleep.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nothing wrong with a "snipe." If you get them to return the competitor's stuff and buy your product by calling their mom for her credit card is that a "double dog snipe?"

I, for one, have never heard you lie to a customer. You're a great role model that way.

BTW, Aliki grows weaker by the day.(insert evil laugh here). Soon she shall be yours.