An Interesting Sales Technique

After many long and productive years of sales training, it is hard to catch me with a sales technique that I am not familiar with.

Last week I attended a conference, and found myself running out of business cards to hand out to  prospective new clients and associates.

Naturally, I did a quick search online to check who can print and have my business cards ready on the same day. For starters, I immediately saw a large printing company that offers the service. I went there with a file on my computer and asked the customer service rep how much it would cost me to print 20 business cards. He said the price is $0.88 per page, with each page fitting 10 cards. The only disadvantage was that I need to cut my newly printed business cards myself. Otherwise I will need to come back the day after for better service, but it wasn’t an option.

With no choice left, I agreed and asked the customer service rep for their store’s email address to which I could send my business card’s file for printing. To my surprise, the rep said that their store doesn’t even have an email address where customers like me can send their files to in advance, leaving us with only one option: bring in our files using a USB device. At this point I thought to  myself, how can one do business in modern, tech-heavy 2017 without the basics – an email address for getting in touch with? Weird!

I then asked the rep to hand me a USB device so I can give him the file to print. And just when I thought there was no more room left for surprise, the rep said that they don’t have a USB to lend customers, but they’re available for sale. The rep sent me to the cashier and told me that the USB devices are beside the counter.

Because I really had no more options, I had to take the USB device and pay for it – at a whooping $35 for a 32gb USB. It was of course a bit expensive for a USB stick, but with the conference in full swing, and me losing prospects and the chance to make productive business connections by the minute, what choice did I have left?

I took the USB, paid for it, and gave it to the rep. Only then was he able to print my business cards.

Once I had the 2 pages with my business cards printed on them, I now had to go through the trouble of cutting them myself because it was the only way I could get the same day service I need – on top of all the extra expenses I already incurred. While I was cutting the cards, I started to analyze how a $2.00 transaction easily became a $40.00 transaction. I was certain that I was tricked into a bad deal, but with the way events were unfolding, I wasn’t sure anymore about the details.

At this point I stopped cutting the cards and put all my attention to the rep and the way he talk to his customers. Customer after customer had the same story. They all came to print few pages. Some cards, some birthday invitations and some few flyers. All of us wanted to send the file using email but eventually ended up with an expensive USB stick!

I went to the rep and I told him that I am very happy I met him. He was shocked and told me that I am the first one to tell him that.  I thanked him – not because of the service and finally getting my business cards printed – but because our entire interaction showed me yet another selling technique, just when I thought that with all my years in sales, no new technique could spring up and surprise me anymore. He sheepishly admitted that this was exactly how they were trained to make a sale.

The unnecessary $40.00 I provided me with an amazing sales lesson. The printing service employed a very creative technique that is actually easy to teach. While I’m not sure I will be advising clients to use this technique, it was interesting to see how it worked and gave that business a sale. On my end, it contradicts my #1 belief of having raving fans by treating customers as loved ones and important people a business would do anything for to meet their needs, and make them happy. Personally, it’s like treating the client like my own mother. I’m willing to bed that if the rep’s mother came in to print a page, he wouldn’t use that devious, but still brilliant sales technique on her. Overall, it was an interesting and insightful experience that allowed me to see the evolution of sales, and realize the things I would, and wouldn’t do, nor advise just to make a sale and gain happy customers.

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