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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Fine Art of Marketing: Different Approaches to Skinning the Cat

 On Monday night, I heard my washing machine gasp its last breath and die, thus beginning the saga of speaking to salespeople.  I should mention, I am not a fan of the hard sell or having to talk to people. I like to do my research and go touch what I’m looking for to see what it looks like in real life. Pressuring of any sort tends to make me say, “Fuck it, I don’t need you.”  Not always a productive response, but true nonetheless.

We stopped at a number of places, only two of which had any appreciable selection – Sears and Brothers Main. The salesperson at Sears was a grouchy-looking woman in clothes that didn’t fit quite right.  At Main Brothers, we worked with an older gentleman with a cane and smile. We petted the same machines at each place, and the differences in the marketing finesse are worth a compare and contract.

** We explained that the Whirlpool Duet washer we had purchased 8 years ago stopped working
Sears (S): Asked several times if we used HE detergent in it (I did- religiously- HE Tide only, she never saw a drop of regular detergent EVER). Said several times to us that, you know, not using HE detergent is the reason most of the Duets fail, pause, **Looks at me kinda sideways**. The repeated questioning of my detergent use was irritating because a) I take care of my stuff, b) she seemed to be inferring I was lying to her about using HE suds, and c) WTF business was it of hers anyway? She then started with her pitch - you know you could get it repaired - we do that- but if you spend the money on it and get another year out of it, are you going to be mad you didn't just replace it? 
Brothers Main (MB): Have you called to have it looked at? We work with a great guy who does all our repair work.  He’s great.  Let me give you his card.

** Comparing the machines:
S: pushed us to the store brand a bit, gave a pretty standard sales pitch, the sale ends Thursday if you want free delivery. Then she vanished.
MB: Asked a couple questions about what we were looking for, then steered us over to a set that was under a display, explained they had them as a special deal for a great price if you bought the set – its like getting the dryer for $400 off – what a great deal! He showed us a couple features and assured us THIS was what we were looking for, and then said let me know if you have questions and ambled off towards the desk.  We wandered a while and looked at his entire selection.  Once or twice when I started opening the lids of the lower-end models he got up to see if I had questions and steered me gently towards the HE stuff I said I wanted.  I was kind of fascinated with a washer that had a see-through lid, and he quickly told me the lid was really not what mattered, the only thing it was good for was entertaining cats and did an impression of a cat trying to catch a passing sock in the cycle. He told us the delivery fee  ($50) included a dryer cord, wash hoses, and hauling out the old ones.  Mike told him we’d just pick it up and buy the cords and hoses.  He said “No you won’t. I’ll put that in for nothing.” He also told us about a $50 per item rebate on the set, it doesn’t start until Friday, but I would give it to you too.  We’ll make it happen.

** By the numbers:
Sears price was $1438 with free delivery, they never mentioned the manufacturers rebates.
MB price was $1367 with $50 delivery (if we wanted it), plus $100 in rebates.
What felt like a GREAT deal in discussion, was truly only a savings of $21. The "free" cords were probably part of the price anyway, but felt like a deal, much like the paired set price. But we felt like we were given a deal and great service to boot. 

** So, the end result?
We bought from Brothers Main and will be washing clothes on Friday night. My decision was strictly based on salesmanship because –lets face it  - I piss away $21 all the time on nothing.  Sometimes it’s just about HOW you skin the cat that matters.
Salesmanship and Marketing for the win!!

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