Selling To A Life Cycle

In the retail industry, we talk a lot about up-selling, or adding UPTs (units per transactions), but an organic, creditable way of up-selling is selling to a life cycle.

Life Cycle: A methodology that identifies the environmental impacts associated with the life cycle of a material or product in a specific application.

Or to put it in retail words…selling to someone that hasn’t had an experience. For example, selling to a first time mom who hasn’t lived through the experience of bringing home a baby. You as the retailer and credible expert should guide the way, demonstrating what she will need and why. Now, a life cycle doesn’t have to be such a major event as having a child. It could be something as simple as going on vacation. I’ll share with you a personal story.

A few years ago I was doing a lot of work in Venezuela, traveling about once a month. One of the things I wanted to do was visit Angel Falls, the world’s highest waterfall. So I made plans to stay a few extra days on my next visit.

One thing I was sure I needed was a good pair of hiking boots. In NYC we have an excellent outdoor sporting goods store that is known for having all types of gear, so off I went. I was greeted in the shoe department by a very nice (and young) fellow, but right away I was put off a little that this “kid” didn’t know anything. After telling him that I was looking for a pair of hiking boots, he went on to show me all the different styles that they had in ladies but also told me that a small men’s size would work depending on what I needed them for.

Next, he asked me where I was going to be hiking and my level of experience. I told him about my plans and before I even finished my sentence he had called over Joe (the names have been changed to protect the excellent sales people). Seems Joe had been on the same trip a few months ago. He pulled out photos, talked about the local food, the dos and don’ts of the trip and gave me a little insider information. $2000 later they had sold me on a ton of stuff I didn’t know I needed.

But since they were the credible experts, who had been on this adventure, whatever they told me I needed I bought – industrial strength bug spray, socks that repel water, special water thermos that cleans the water before you drink it, my own portable hammock since I don’t know who has slept on the public ones and they weren’t known for their cleanliness, special hiking pants that stay cool and zip off to become shorts, a crushable hat, walking stick, water proof light weight jacket, small first aid kit, toilet kit (yes it’s what you think it is complete with TP paper) flash light and cap light, not only hiking boots but also aqua shoes and, of course, a back pack to carry it all.

I walked out of the store….spending more than I wanted, maybe more than I could afford but feeling like Indiana Jones. They had up-sold me in a customer service friendly way. I had never been on this type of vacation and I relied on their expertise.

Now, let me describe what my guide for the next two days and one night was wearing. A pair of rubber flip flops and nylon shorts. That’s it! Of course he grew up on the mountain (that’s me trying to make myself feel better). There was an American couple and a German group of friends who all had camping gear, but of course not as “high Tec” as mine, which did make me feel a little bit “cool”. Two hours into the hike I started looking for things I could dump. The heat and the fact that I really don’t hike made the weight on my back feel 10 times more heavy than it was. I was very glad I had my own hammock, but I left it behind for the next person to use- one less thing to carry. While I was extremely happy over all with all my gear, next time I know (from experience) what I can leave behind.

I got back to New York and found a note from the boys at the store, “please stop by and let us know how your trip went….bring us photos”.

Of course I wanted to show off my pictures. The guide had told us of a legend that if you are afraid while taking your pictures (trust me it’s scary to hang from the side of the mountain that doesn’t have hand rails like you would find in the US trails, but good thing I had my walking stick for balance) all your photos would come out blurry or not at all. My pictures came out perfect.

Back at the shop the “kids” took their time asking me about the trip and how the gear worked out, even making notes on the conditions during that time of the year. I felt good telling my story, and somehow I was now part of some type of club. They created (once again) an emotion that is important in selling. I did mention that I thought I had too much gear and it was too heavy for me to carry. I felt I was out of shape for such a long hike. Then Joe smiled and suggested I stay in shape (note he didn’t agree that I was OUT OF SHAPE) by bike riding. Seems Joe is from the biking department.

Needless to say that $1000 later I had a bike which I was going to ride every morning before work or even better yet….ride to work, a new matching helmet, special water bottle holder and a lock. It is NYC after all. I have taken that bike out a total of two times counting when I rode it home and once when Joe invited me to go for a ride called critical mass, which is a large bicycling group that gets together at night to bring attention to the importance of bike riding. Of course I needed to go in and get a nightlight and flashing blinkers and, since I wasn’t used to riding at night, a reflective vest wouldn’t be a bad idea. Total $200 bucks.

I would like to add at this point of the story that I am not gullible or an easy sell… usually that is.