Customer rapport key to sales

Karl Terry

Everybody loves a bargain — maybe even more so in these tight economic times.

That could also explain the popularity of the shows “Pawn Stars” and “American Pickers” on History Channel.

We would all like to think we’re wheelers and dealers but when it comes to our own hard-earned money on the table living vicariously through television is a good thing.

I’ve even heard that Discovery Channel is premiering a reality show called “Auction Kings” this week.

In the opening credits “Pawn Stars” (set in Las Vegas) shop owner Rick Harrison proclaims, “Everything in here has a story and a price.” I think that’s the key in the so-called “art of the deal,” everything has a price and everyone has a number that will work.

In the show “American Pickers,” set in the Midwest, the fun is in watching the guys on that show try and uncover someone’s number as they rummage through other people’s collections. They’re not always successful because personal attachment and misinformation about value and re-sale get in the way.

The best wheeler, dealers I’ve known could tell you exactly what they paid for an item and how much they had invested into reconditioning it even when it was piled in the corner of a junked up barn.

My dad had that talent and he bought and sold a variety of things. He rarely lost money on something but everyone knew he had a good eye and would turn loose of something they might need at a fair price because he wasn’t emotionally attached and he never paid too much.

Once in a great while he sold something he didn’t really want to turn over but when he did, the person buying wanted it bad enough to pay a great price.

The most successful resellers I’ve known didn’t pursue the potential customer very hard because they had already done their work when they purchased the item. They bought the stuff people wanted at the right price and once the potential buyer laid eyes on it the item sold itself.

I’ve spent a good portion of my professional career in sales. I started out with newspaper advertising, then janitorial supplies and equipment and now new and used cars.

If I had a $10 bill for every sales training or sales meeting I’ve attended or held I would pocket the money and retire. All that training never sold a thing. It all came down to the rapport I had built with the customer and the value, real or perceived of the product.

One thing I’ve found over the years is that the deals that have been the most profitable for me have been the ones where everyone felt like a winner.

What keeps those of us with goods or services to sell in the game in lean times is the knowledge that same feeling is out there, maybe in the very next deal.