Remember the saying that a good salesman can sell a comb even to a bald man? Indeed, true salesmanship is an art. As a kid back in late 70s I remember when I used to visit my father’s store in Kolkata, and witnessed first-hand how salesmen there more often than not turn a casual visitor into a customer by their smooth talk and convincing power. Gradually, from my interaction with such people I learnt that a truly gifted salesman takes the initial ‘no’ from a potential customer in a positive spirit, has street-smarts knowledge and deep understanding of consumer psychology. Besides, as a keen observer, I have noticed that a successful salesman is never too pushy for a sale. Instead, he acts as an ‘advisor’, with gradually digging up one benefit or the other of his products and presenting them to the shop visitor in such a tempting way that eventually leads to a sale.
With the onslaught of the online retailing during the past decade many believe that the role of the traditional store salesman is bound to become perfunctory. While that might be the case with few categories of products, I feel they would still continue to play a crucial role in the apparels domain, more so in the case of ethnic, traditional attire.
Take the case of a saari showroom. Who shops for sarees online? Not many I would say. That’s why such showrooms are still flourishing in typical hubs like Chandni Chowk in Delhi. Women and young-brides-to-be are their regular clientele, who often visit such stores aiming to purchase 1 or 2 sarees but walk out buying as many as 5 and spending double what they thought they would spend! Why? It’s the overbearing hospitality of such store owners and salesmen, plus the gradual and subtle presentation of their apparel; add to that the complimentary food delicacies of Chandni Chowk offered to customers, and the overall effect is such that such ladies are charmed to shell out more and more by the store ‘bhaiyya’, with many becoming repeat customers.
With their ability to charm a bird off tree, the traditional store salesman’s role would continue to go strong in times ahead as well.