Don't Bombard Your Clients: Lessons From Maternity Shopping

My wife is pregnant and hasn’t been feeling well lately. Attempting to be a supportive husband, I decided I would venture to the maternity clothing shop in our local mall to purchase her a belly band. This is an amazingly complex yet simple contraption that looks like a tube top, designed to allow pregnant women to wear their non-maternity clothes for a longer period of time. I still haven’t figured out the physics behind it, but apparently it works.

I walked into the store, asked the cashier for a belly band and was being rung up within 30 seconds. Then the world slowed down. She wanted to know my address, my e-mail, our due date and my phone number. As an avid hater of spam in my mailbox (both of them), I am not usually a fan of giving out my information. I gave her my information anyway, despite being pushed to the edge of my comfort zone.

“Would you like to receive two free issues of Parenting magazine?”

“Sure.”

“Have you thought about starting to save for your child’s education?”

“Yes.”

“That’s great, because we offer 529 education savings plans.”

“I’m not interested, thank you.”

At this point my defenses were completely up. This cashier had pushed past the point of comfort on the first sale and asked for too much. She then handed me a piece of paper with the Parenting magazine logo on it.

“You just need to sign this to get your two free issues.”

“Is this one of those free trial subscriptions where I have to cancel it or they will charge me?”

“Yes, but it is really easy to cancel.”

“No thanks, then.”

What this situation reminded me of is how delicate a new relationship with a customer can be. I will likely never go back to that store--at least not without my wife. It wasn’t that they did anything horribly wrong, they just pushed too hard and reminded me that they weren’t there to help me as much as they were there to sell me as much product as possible. Had they taken my contact information, they could have developed a relationship over time via e-mail or snail mail. Maybe I would have taken a look at their savings plans for children or signed up for a trial subscription.

No one likes feeling like a dollar value. Don’t bombard your clients. It puts them on the defensive and destroys your ability to build trust by consistently delivering value that is in their best interest.

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7 comments:

May 8, 2008 at 10:20 PM julie said...

Great article! Congrats on the baby!

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