Out-of-stock, or out of your mind? - Jeffrey Gitomer

THE dilemma of shopping, and the opportunity of a lifetime. Going shopping at the height of Christmas season is both maddening and frustrating. Maddening are the crowds. Frustrating is the store being ‘out’ of what you want. They had one yesterday, but someone bought it. But they have more coming in a week. But at this moment, when I have my money in my hand, and I am ready to buy, they’re ‘out’. Important note: Being out of stock, and it being the Christmas season, are mutually exclusive situations. ‘Out of stock’ can occur any time, it just occurs more often at Christmas time. Enter: A new solution. Store clerks will now, as though by knee-jerk reaction, respond to an out-of-stock situation with one of two alternatives: 1. Sometimes they can look to another store, and, due to varying retailer procedures, offer anything from ‘we’ll ship it to you’ to ‘go pick it up over there’. Interesting note: Most companies make selling situations that are convenient for themselves, not the customer. The pinheads in operations want to eliminate any added costs in delivering a product so that their margins won’t be affected. In fact most of these policies, or methods of doing business, don’t make it easy for the customer to buy. And as a result, the customer goes someplace else with their money, and the retailer makes less sales. 2. The second knee-jerk alternative offered by the sales clerk is, “Just go to our website, they may have it there”. My question always is, “Can you do that for me?” And they respond, “No, we can’t do that”. How stupid is that? I have my money in my hand, I’m ready to buy, it’s not on their shelf, it is in their warehouse, but they can’t access it. Why? Because: 1. The operations people don’t want to have the store clerk take the extra time to make that sale, while other customers are in the store; or 2. The company hasn’t figured out their own technology; or 3. They figured it out, but they don’t want to spend the money on it. In any of these three cases, the customer is the loser – but not as big a loser as the retailer. Millions, probably billions of dollars are left on the table because the retailer refuses to take yes for an answer. The above scenario seems so obvious that it almost defies having to write about it. The whole world is online, why isn’t the store? Seems crazy. My father is rolling over in his grave right now. His philosophy to me was, “Son, if someone wants to buy from you, first make certain you can deliver, and then take their money on the spot”. Here’s the great news: There are a few retailers that are still shining examples of: ‘If you want it, and we don’t have it, I can find it for you – online or at another store, take your money, and have it shipped to you at no charge’. The object of this lesson is: Sell the customer what they want, when they want it – or lose the sale to your competition. And, probably the next sale. Ho, ho, wow. At a recent airport purchase, I was buying a soccer shirt. They didn’t have my size. The clerk asked me if I could wait two minutes. “Sure,” I said. She took off like a rabbit, running to one of their other stores in the airport, and brought the shirt back. And with a big smile (and out of breath), she handed me the shirt, in my size. I felt so good about it, that I bought another shirt. Fortunately, this one was in stock. How easy is it for your customer to do business with you? How willing are you to run to deliver? The easier you make it for your customer, the easier you’ll make it for your cash register. Happy. Happy. Jeffrey Gitomer, author of The Sales Bible, and The Little Red Book of Selling. President of Charlotte-based Buy Gitomer, he gives seminars, runs annual sales meetings, and conducts internet training programs on selling and customer service at He can be reached at 704/333-1112 or e-mail to © 2005 All Rights Reserved – Don’t reproduce this document without written permission from Jeffrey H. Gitomer and Buy Gitomer • 704/333-1112


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