How to turn off a customer in 30 seconds

HomeColumnsMarketing MasteryHow to turn off a customer in 30 seconds
Jim Augustus Armstrong

I was on the phone recently with my sister. She and her husband needed floors for their new house, and she had spent several days visiting flooring stores around the major metro area near their home.

“I visited seven or eight flooring stores, and the showrooms were almost all super depressing,” she told me. “And they were weirdly silent. Or, in some of them you’d hear someone speaking on a phone way in the back. On several occasions I actually had to hunt someone down to help me. When I did speak with a salesperson, they’d ask what I was looking for, and then just show me samples and say, ‘Here are your options.’ There was no guidance, no asking me questions, nothing that really helped me make a decision.”

I’ve visited a lot of flooring showrooms, so none of this surprised me. “I bet most of the showrooms were not only quiet but totally empty,” I said.

“Yep, totally empty,” she told me. “The only exception was a store that was part of a flooring chain. Every time I went in, it was packed with customers and there were always employees busy at the front counter.”

“Who did you wind up buying flooring from?”

“The chain store.”

“Was it because they were the cheapest?”

“Honestly Jim, it was because, out of all the dealers I visited, they were the least bad.”

“Let me ask you something, sis. Let’s say one of the dealerships you went to was different. When you walked in, they had upbeat music playing. And instead of being jammed with displays, the showrooms were curated. And they had a popcorn machine or baked cookies, so it smelled good.”

“That would have really stood out,” she said.

“And within 30 seconds you were greeted by a friendly employee who said something like, ‘Welcome to Jimbo’s floors. Are you a new client?’ And after you said yes, they let you know they have a free design consultation for new clients to help them narrow down the thousands of flooring options to the perfect product for their design taste and lifestyle. And then they invited you to sit down with them for a complimentary consultation. And they handed you a beverage menu and said, ‘What can I get you to drink?’ And after they brought you a drink and a plate of cookies, they spent a few minutes taking you through a detailed questionnaire, asking questions and writing down your answers. And when they came out to measure your home, they wore shoe covers, measured and inspected all your floors and gave you written recommendations for getting the longest life out of your flooring.”

“That would have been amazing,” she said.

“So, here’s the question: At that point, if they had given you a quote for new floors and the quote was higher than everyone else’s, would you still have bought from them?”

“Oh definitely, no question about it. For a store that did all that, price wouldn’t have mattered. I would have gladly paid more.”

Research tells us customers will pay more money for a product or service if the purchasing process is associated with an exceptional shopping experience.

Lesson learned.

Jim Augustus Armstrong is the founder and president of Flooring Success Systems, a company that provides floor dealers with marketing services and coaching to help them attract quality customers, close more sales, get higher margins and work the hours they choose. For information visit

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