A while back I was out doing some research for a strategy document I was preparing. After strolling through countless aisles in retail outlets I had the information I needed and was ready to head for the car.

On my way out I stumbled across a menswear store I used to shop at from time to time years ago but had lost contact with as I had been travelling so much. Now I need to make it clear that I don’t do clothes shopping, in all my years I still cannot understand why it’s fun to go into a store and get in and out of clothes- just getting dressed once a day is enough for me. BUT, I figured that seeing I had the time I would make this my biannual pilgrimage and grab a jacket that I needed.

Anyway I wandered into the store and a young guy, Nicholas, met me within two feet of the front door and within seconds. I was pawing through a rack of suits and jackets looking very disinterested. He quietly pointed out that what I was looking at was not my size and guided me to the back of the store to another rack. Within moments I had a jacket on.

At this point I don’t even recall speaking. Then Nick suggested that I should try on the pants. They fitted perfectly and I hadn’t even given him a size. Then of course came the shirt, the tie and the belt.

At this point I figured I’d better actually say something before I had shoes, undies, cuff links and a tie pin.

“Nick, hold on buddy, I was just looking.” Did this stop Nick? Not a chance, he continued in a quiet and confident voice explaining the fabric, the fact that it would travel well, how the cut offered a slimming look (that worked for me). And away he went with more features and benefits than I could take in.

Anyway, I decided that I was mildly interested in the suit and would think about it.

By the time I had changed and made it back to the counter Nick was standing there with piece of paper in hand announcing to me that he had good news, that, ‘he had a great deal for me and could do all of the attire for a really special price.’  Handing me the piece of paper he had scribbled on I quickly raised my left hand in the air (this is what I was taught to do when I was short of oxygen) and looked for a chair to sit in.

As the blood came back to my head and I regained consciousness, the sporting side of me set in. If this guy was going to extract that much cash from me then he had to work for it. For the next ten minutes I offered every excuse under the sun as to why I wasn’t going to buy, and he had a come back for all of them. I was stumped.

My finale was a good one. I didn’t have the money. The suggestion of credit card, or setting it aside for me didn’t wash and I told him I’d let him know.

Now by this stage I figured young Nick had played most of his cards and I’d beaten him, and I was feeling pretty chuffed. Not so.

I didn’t make it back to the office until the next morning and by the time I’d been through a staff meeting I had a phone message from Nick.

I had forgotten that during the course of conversation Nick had learnt my profession, my name and where to find me.

Nick had yet another ‘deal for me.’  He announced how he’d put the suit aside for me anyway, just in case, and how after ‘consultation with his boss’ he’d be able to throw in the tie for free.

Not to be beaten by any other roadblock I was going to put up for him he also announced how he could have the alterations done for me in an hour? “How so Nick, you didn’t take any alterations.” Oh but he did, while I was chatting to him he had quickly and quietly taken the trouser length and pinned it to, ‘show me how neat the cut looked.’

To top all of this off he could take a credit card number from me today and have the suit ready for me tomorrow morning before I went to interstate for my big presentation. Huh? I don’t remember telling him that!

I played my last objection card… “Nick, all of my cards are business credit cards so I can’t give you one of these as it would be tough to make it tax deductable… (I said with a chuckle).”

Nick replied, “Well that’s easy, just fax me over your letterhead and I can have the logo embroidered under the lapel so you can use it as a deduction.”

At this point I didn’t know if he was pulling my leg, but it sure did sound good. I felt the pain of defeat and buckled, if for no other reason that he had broken down any real reason for me NOT to buy.

On collection of my new attire I was greeted by Nick who suggested to me that I should try on the trousers to make sure they were all OK. I did this as I thought it was a precautionary measure, not for one minute dreaming it was a lead to another sale.

Jackets, ties and shirts followed as items that were ‘complementary’ to my purchase, but I was strong, relenting only to be put on the mailing list.

So, the moral of the story?

Even in the most negative of sales environments you can find a way to overcome the hurdles. But only if you have the information.

Nick did a fantastic job of acquiring the information so he could use it to his advantage later in the sales process to break down the objections.

His pitch clearly had a start, middle and a finish with purpose behind most of his questions, from discovery of the ‘want,’  to development of the ‘need,’ to encouragement of the ‘have to have.’

I’m sure this is not the last conversation I will have with Nick, and I’m also sure I’m going to enjoy making him work for a dollar, as he will enjoy extracting one from me.