This Thanksgiving at work, I get to dust off an old skillset. I say this with a bowed head and much humility because–God help us all–I’ve been tasked to sell stuff this week. Not the normal “ring people up at the cash register” selling, but the full blown “if this coffee maker were a car, I’d be saying BR-549 right now…” selling.
It’s something I discovered during my last tenure at Starbucks. I’m actually good at it. I’ve had to resolve the whole concept of selling to folks in my own mind because it’s repugnant to me in a lot of ways, and against my personal code of ethics to sell something to people who don’t really need it.
But here I am, doing it again. Why is this so annoying to me? I don’t believe anyone should buy something we don’t need or want, but a large chunk of the US retail economy is based on sales from November to December. If you want to see a stockbroker cry, just wait until Black Friday’s numbers are 25% lower than the year before. For my non-American friends, Black Friday is traditionally the Friday after the U.S. holiday Thanksgiving. It’s the first shopping day after Christmas, and it’s really, REALLY important. If nothing else, it’s an indicator of how the rest of the year’s Holiday sales will go.
I say all this because I work Thanksgiving day, AND I work Black Saturday, and have been tasked to sell automatic coffee brewing machines. And I’m good at it. Shocker. I’m an introvert, and don’t like selling stuff, but it’s something I kind of excel at. I’ve pondered why, and I’ve come up with a few reasons.
(1) captive audience. People at Starbucks will probably want to buy coffee-related stuff.
(2) I’m 20 years older than most of the Starbucks employees at my store. I “command” respect that a newly-graduated college student wouldn’t by virtue of having gray in my beard. Many of our customers are older, and I have *that* in common with them.
(3)There is NO third thing.
(4) I have a quirky sense of humor. ‘ Nuff said on that ‘count.
(5) I’ve earned a reputation of being *happy* at the store. I don’t let stuff get to me, and smile whether I’m making drinks, or doing something with the cash register, or taking trash out back to the bin. I have been trying to do these things without complaint and with a smile on my face.
(6) I try to relate to the customer; not just make the sale. If all I do is learn their name, I’ve done my job in my opinion. I’d rather sell 100 drinks to them in the next year, instead of 1 machine, once before Christmas, and never see them again.
So, uh, that’s it. Not much to say. I can sell stuff. It’s a hidden talent that I have, but that I seldom care to share. I guess it’s something else I’m thankful for.