I have the most notorious luck with pants. Invariably, I can’t last a week with a new pair before there is some sort of unfortunate stain embedded into the fibers—ink, wine, hot sauce, curry, you name it, it’s probably been on my pants.
So I end up going to J.C. Penny’s often to restock my lower garments. In the process, I’ve noticed a few things about my experience.
A) The minute I walk in the department, there is usually someone there to greet me. The result? I feel welcome. I’m not alone in this struggle to maintain my wardrobe. There is someone else there to help me. I know this because she instantly says…
B) Can I help you?
If I say “no”, she simply smiles and lets me know that she’s right over at the register, and if I need any help, just come and ask. If I need any help? That’s comforting to know.
But if I say “yes”, she moves on to the next step.
C) She asks me what is it that I’m looking for. Now the obvious answer is that I’m looking for pants. I’m in the pants section, I’m surrounded by pants, what do you think? But she’s really interested in beyond that—like, what kind of pants? Jeans, Khakis, dress slacks? These types of questions help us to narrow the field.
D) She then asks me what I’m buying them for. Again, the obvious answer is because my knees get cold if I don’t wear pants. Of course all she’s really trying to do is clarify the situation even further so she then will know exactly how to help me. So I reply that I’m looking to replace my pair of khakis that got horribly stained with a permanent marker (pretending to play Pictionary, no less. What’s even more embarrassing is that these are specially “stain-resistant” pants, and I still ruined them). I’m needing a nice casual pair that I can wear when I’m meeting with clients or out to dinner with friends.
E) She then follows up by wanting to know specifics, like color, size, and particular cut. All of these simple questions take very little time, but in just a few moments she knows exactly how to handle the situation and point me to exactly what I’m needing.
F) The only thing that’s left is to try it on and see how it fits. It’s really at this point that I’ll decide if I’m making a purchase. That moment of looking in the mirror and seeing myself decked out in a pair of crisp clean brand new pants that are exactly what I was wanting, and perhaps even better than what I was expecting, creates an emotion. I look good. I feel good. I want to continue this good look and good feeling after I leave the store. I want people to look at me on the street and say, “Dag, look at those bright, crisp and clean pants. He looks good.” And with that emotional surge of what’s possible for me with these perfect pants, I quickly make my way to the register to pay my money.
Now, imagine that instead of being at J.C. Penny’s, it’s on your phone. And instead of the sales lady, it’s you greeting the customer, and instead of pants that are involved in the potential purchase, it’s your coaching. And the customer has just “walked” into your “store” to buy a pair of “pants” that they are needing.
You have three options.
1) Let them wander around the store, and hopefully they’ll find what they’re looking for and go buy it themselves and you won’t have to be bothered.
2) Grab the first pair you see and try to stuff them into it.
3) Ask questions. Get curious. Find out exactly what it is that they’re looking for. What is the problem that they’re struggling with? What will it “look like in the mirror” when they have “found the right pair of pants.” Make sure that by the end of the call, you know what specifically “size” “color” “cut” “fabric” “and intention” requirements your customer has for your “pants”.
And by pants, I mean your coaching.
And then send them off to the “register” to make their purchase.