As a Sales person, you don not sell – not any more and this since quite a while, welcome to the brave new world!
Once upon a time…, people came to stores with a preconcieved idea of what they wanted – the task was not to sell something, but rather to fulfill a real need. I am talking of times where one had not 2 metres of clothes, 10 watches, 30 pairs of shoes, 15 bags, 5 cars, etc. You get my point.
At that time buying was a reflected act of closing a gap, either to replace something that broke either because of a socially imposed need due to the social ascent. Think cars – in Germany it was unimaginable to drive a small car during the 60ies and in the same time working in management – These status symbols – Cadillacs in the US, Mercedesses in Germany etc. Have been replaced during the years with various other status symbols and codes that over the time developed – One of my fathers friends almost went crazy because he simply couldn’t understand why wealthy kids did not choose to wear tailormade suits on Saturday nights when partying, but favorized teared jeans, T-shirts and baskets (special thanks to: to Marlon Brando and James Dean for what they did for men’s fashion).
This change went hand in hand with some invisible changes in the mindset. No longer have we been forced to read the classics in school, no longer authorities (parents, school, society, government, church etc.) had power over us – we all morphed into rebels and individualists. Free, yet without orientation. The strive for belonging to a group acting as an identifier though stayed and much to the dispair of the older generation and conservative society, this search for belonging has been fulfilled with youth culture (mods, flappers), music inspired subculture (HipHop, Punk, Emos, Juggalos, Metalheads, Goths, …) etc.
You cannot estimate enough what people like Vivienne Westwood, Alexander McQueen and others have done to liberate the youth and to tear down walls over the last decades.
As a result of these more or less rebellious subcultures, the establishment slowly but steadily adapted. Whereas some years ago it was just unimaginable that a CEO of a mayor company wears jeans and turtlenecks and is walking around bare feeted – this exactly was the uniform of Steve Jobs over years.
In short the sinus-milieus that have been over decades the point of reference for every company lost dramatically importance, their boundaries became loose. Yes you still come from the milieu of your birth, but you leave it way quicker and with uncertain directions.
The consequence of this tearing down of walls is an exuberant individualism leading to a deep fragementation of every liberal society and to wonderful business opportunities. No longer is the question do I wear a coat to stay warm on a windy day in autumn, but which coat today expresses my personality best – the question, if it warms you is not so much of importance. Fast retailing (sic!) companies made this their business model with cheap, from mayor subcultures inspired clothing often being designed by the creme de la creme of fashion creatives, helping each and everyone to express their “unique” state of mind for a specific occasion.
On the other hand you find the impulse generators for fashion – companies like Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Prada etc. but also Tesla, Rolex, Apple, Dom Perignon, Bayan tree resorts, Singapore Airlines… the list is endless and all levels of consumption are touched, as the purchase as such is not the filling of a need but the fullfillment of a desire. The hunting for the right item expressing my style has become way more important than the product itself.
In these beautiful new times we all are steered by a mixture of Marketing departments, the hierarchy of needs, our level of development and of course the need to hunt – to possess an item is the consequence of a successful hunting and shows to the peer group your abilities (financial, style or other).
Why am I swaggering? – Well because I tink it is of the biggest importance to understand as a salesperson you are not selling. In fact you are a gamekeeper who assists in a giant battue.
Your task, as a Sales Person, is to align the product you sell intellectually with the expression of the lifestyle of your visitor in an emotional way. You fulfill no need, given that you are not selling flour, but you fulfill a phantasy, a fetish, a desire, a dream.