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The Art of Conversation

Posted: February 10, 2014, 4:40 p.m. EDT

By Patrick Donston

Have you ever talked with a random customer in your shop and found out they didn’t purchase their initial aquarium setup with you? Even more, they got a quote, thought it was out of their budget, went somewhere else and bought it. Maybe your team overpriced it or scared them with too many "bells and whistles.” I know this can happen. I do realize we want to sell the proper equipment so our clients will be successful, although we must emphasize the balance of wants and needs.

A good advisor is able to distinguish the right equipment for sustenance and growth of all aquatic fauna. iStock/Thinkstock

My advice is to teach your sales team the art of conversation. By escorting and listening, and showing displays, your staff can help customers decide what they want to keep then come up with a budget and work within it. It is important to know their limits and availability to commit. Bigger is not always better; more expensive is not always the answer. A good advisor is able to distinguish the right equipment for sustenance and growth of all aquatic fauna. They should understand they can be lenient on heartier animals when it comes to systems of operation. The same would apply with different techniques and maintenance schedules. Another protocol to use is the "ease-in plan” and optional upgrades. High-end products, such as UV sterilizers, RO units, reactors or foam fractionators can be purchased later at a discount. The key is to explain why equipment is advantageous and make it clear to your clients that not all marine fauna require the same conditions to live  in a captive environment. Some high-end equipment may need to be purchased later for more biologically pressed organisms.

True skill is required to teach your sales team, but it will work. To use a sports analogy: We want our attempts/conversion ratio to increase. Most importantly, our team understands this skill and our clients understand the limits to the animals they wish to keep. First, we want to get them started—get them excited—then upgrading comes with ease…



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