My wife and I are building a new house this year, and visited the Ottawa Home and Garden show to meet potential contractors and see what was out there. Like all consumer shows, this one had a little bit of everything – from people selling miracle arthritis cures to super-duper knives for the kitchen.
The first thing that struck me – that always strikes me – are the number of companies who have spent the money to go into one of these things without having a plan in place to maximize their potential. All too many are staffed with people who simply don’t have the skills to deal with customers- much less the thousands of customers that go through the home show. Here are just a few things we witnessed:
1. A fireplace company, Top Hat Home Comfort: They have lots of reps at their booth – a good thing; but unfortunately many of them border on just plain rude. They aren’t very helpful – and this is the second show in a row we’ve been to where we actually simply didn’t go in because of the number of F-bombs flying around from the staff.
2. Info dumps. I would guess that 80% of the people working in these shows confuse incessant talking (and no listening) for good selling skills. Eeek.
3. i-Phonitis. “Oh, here’s a booth that looks interesting, let’s find out more…” but the person sitting in the chair in the booth is too engrossed in his/her iPhone to even look up and say hi.
4. The Hard Sellers. These throwbacks to the 1970’s philosophy of “ABC” (Always Be Closing) who have absolutely no CLUE what effective selling is all about
5. Competition Trashers: Even though we hadn’t actually been to the competition or mentioned the competition, they felt compelled to blather on about bad their competition was.
6. The Lame Sales Lines: Are sales trainers actually still teaching this stuff? I felt a little like a pretty girl sitting in a bar filled with lounge lizards using their worst pick-up lines. Some included, “What, are you saying you aren’t interested in saving money?”, “What exactly are you going home to think about?” or my favourite, “Hey, you look like someone who could use a few extra dollars in your pocket..” (seriously – someone said this…)
Having said that, we did encounter some great experiences as well. The people at Jazz Solar were exceptionally friendly and helpful, and asked a TON of questions to learn more about my wife and I and our new home. There was a geothermal guy who was amazing (clearly the one that the three other companies who kept talking about ‘the competition’ were concerned about).
There was a great young guy named Kamal at City Locksmiths who almost convinced us to buy the locks at the show, then build the house around them…
All in all, an interesting experience. But, boy, there sure is a need out there for better customer service!
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