Those who have heard me speak know I have stated that most people believe that selling is not something they want to have to do as part of their job. In truth many of them feel that selling is disgusting. An example of this truth was recently reported by Business Week in their November 23 issue. In “The Steam at Starbucks” they report that many baristas feel unwelcome pressure to sell the new Starbucks instant coffee, Via.
Despite “months preparing its frontline employees (aka baristas)” apparently many of them are not happy with the push for them to sell Via. “This is the most stressful promotion I have ever experienced…” is a typical quote from one of them. Starbucks created what might appear to be simple up-sell and cross-sell techniques for their people to use and still the push back is typified by “I have seen more annoyed customers than enthusiastic ones from all these strong-arm sales tactics…”
Most people just don’t like to sell and asking them to gets more push back than most managers expect. As a regular Starbucks customer, my experience of two promotions in recent weeks probably best typifies how people react to selling. The Starbucks Via promotional tactics described in the Business Week article were not consistently (or even often) seen in the stores I visited. In contrast, a promotion to ask you to gift Via to the troops was consistently offered every time I went into Starbucks.
It’s not about the product or even asking, it’s about the perception that you are asking the person to sell, since too many people think selling is disgusting. Is this fixable? To some degree, but not perfectly, and most companies miss it altogether. Example: How often do you ask your customer service people to up-sell or cross-sell? How’s it working for you?