Received more than just a free sample.

I love going to Costco. Not so much for the shopping, or even the money I save, no…mostly I enjoy going to Costco for the free samples. It makes me feel happy, like I won something whenever I get something for 'free'.

The free-sample-passer-outer's that serve up these tasty treats are an interesting lot. Have you ever talked with any of them besides the obligatory "Thank you"? Have you ever noticed any patterns to their selling approach? Many of them give a speech about the product they are pitching that day, yet most of these demo people come off as only two-dimensional. They prepare and serve their wares and they say words that inform and hope persuade the potential buyers. But that's it.

On one visit, I was frustratingly looking for something in particular and asked a demo person where an item might be located. He quickly responded, emotionless, and without any eye contact, "I don't know. I don't work here."…Dead air…"Okay then, thank you," I said and walked away confused, thinking, You are working, and you are here? So what don't I understand? I later learned these folks don't actually work for Costco, but are contracted workers. With this interaction, what got me thinking was that these folks are missing an opportunity to make a tremendous impact in the customer relationship building area, think of the networking, knowledge sharing, marketing, and selling opportunities being missed -- not just for their products, and not just for Costco, but really for themselves, for their own brand.

One can only imagine the influence a truly engaged demo person would have on their customers. Customers who are hungry, waiting in line for a sample, and wanting to buy good products. Think of the stories they could tell about how this product could add value to their life, their family, and their loved ones. They could ask customers simple questions about their needs and wants, likes and dislikes of competing products. They could tell stories about the quality or core values the parent company has that makes this product special, different, or better. And how these core values add a level of trust. That the purchaser can be confident in knowing they are receiving a higher return for their investment. Think of the influence this one engage person would have on their teammates. I can go on and on, but then it got me thinking again.

Am I just a two dimensional demo person with my business? How many opportunities am I missing by not fully engaging?  To tell stories that grip and stick in the minds of listeners? To build relationships with customers, for the long-term? To understand their issues, needs, and wants? Do I thoroughly understand the products or services we sell? Can I effectively and confidently communicate how what we do adds value? Do I need to up my game plan?

Thanks Costco demo people, for the free stuff you so willingly serve up, and thanks for that other stuff that’s a little more hard to find.

The more we make a positive emotional connection with our customers the more everyone wins.