I learned from selling shoes!
The last KK trip was so memorable that I brought along my mum and aunt there for 3 days on a trip which ended this morning. This vacation almost ceased to happen, but thats a whole other story. The important thing is; it came with a happy ending.
We must have visited just about every shoe shop imaginable in the city. Mum & aunt ended up with only a handful of (good, sensible) shoes, which did not do the hard yard much justice in my humble opinion.
However, the emotional gain out of the shoe shops experience far supersedes the harvest, as shoe shopping in itself is an art form. Coupled with the best self professed shoe salesman as your concierge, you can almost describe the experience as a pilgrimage, let alone therapeutic.
I am talking about non other than yours truly, who have served literally thousands of women, men and kids alike. It certainly brings back fond memories of my life as a hopeless shoe salesman 6 years ago.
Here are my 10 uncompromised life lessons (and understanding about women) from selling shoes:
1. Smelly feet do not discriminate (regardless of how beautiful she may be).
»> Lesson: The same principle also applies to a woman’s character, heart and breath. Of course there is always exception (my Deon’s feet are flawless).
2. Women with small feet are often the most difficult customers / people to please.
»> This hypothesis has been put into test way more than it’s due. Try verify with any experienced shoe salesman, they’d reaffirm this truth (Not just any urban myth).
»> Lesson: The next time you encounter a difficult person, try checking out their feet / shoes. If its size 5 and below, you’d understand why.
3. Fundamental Matters
»> Good inventory management is, if not more important than the best sales person you can have on the floor. No stock = no sales. It comes down to hard work, details and operational excellence!
»> Lesson: Substance counts. Without which is merely putting lipstick on the pig.
4. What they don’t tell you matters as much as what they do.
»> A good sales person always looks for non-verbal closing cue. Without being too in your face, we often ask if you would like to try on “the other side”. Don’t waste your time; serve someone else, if the answer is NO.
»> Lesson: The same principle applies to any life situation. Look with your ears, listen with your eyes.
5. Sincerity Counts.
»> Speak to people at their eyes level. That means lower yourself to the seating customers position to interact to them. (Yes, this often requires you to bend your knees.)
»> Do not expect to make shoe business your career if you are unwilling to humble yourself. *Statistically, the closing ratio increases by another 57% if you tie customers’ shoe lace for them.
»> Lesson: It is a business about service, humility and respect. Isn’t it how we’re supposed to approach life, too?
6. It is far easier to sell quality (than a cheap $15 pair of synthetic shoes).
»> Yes, a $150 pair of leather shoes costs 10 times more. The same pair of shoe typically lasts 2 years longer (24 times), with superior comfort level, plus bonus self-esteem booster every time you wear them.
»> Do the math, it will be far more value for money to “invest” in a good pair of shoe. Notice the choice of word; invest.
»> Lesson: Inferior quality always comes around to bite you (in this case hurt your feet). Buy Leather!
7. You can never be too rich, too thin or have too many pairs of shoes.
»> Tough being a woman. You need a pair of stilettos for the evening, 5 different pairs of pump for each work day, and those unbearable wedges when you try to look 6 feet tall amongst your friends while doing the catwalk down the mall.
»> It is with this reason that regardless if you are mid range vendors; Charles & Keith or Vincci, or top end designers: Jimmy Choo, Manolo Blahnik and Ferragamo, you would never ever go out of business. Just as you thought you have enough, the tiny little voice in your head will whisper to you: “there is always room for one more pair”.
»> “I don’t have 300 pairs of shoes, I have 6000.” Imelda Marcos
8. Master the language of shoes!
»> A great opening line with a woman will never fail when you begin your conversation with shoes as a topic.
»> It’s a bit like you are reaching to the inner most calling of a woman’s soul. Try this, thank me later.
9. Judge Not.
»> You can tell a lot about a person with the shoe he / she wears. However, be gentle. Not every book can be judged adequately by its cover.
»> Be nice to those who wear Birkenstock, Campers and Nike. It spells confidence, style, practicality and lack of respect for authority. Like!
10. Just as you thought you are expert on shoe commentary, consider this quote; “I used to complain about the shoes I wear until I saw the man without his two feet.”
»> Lesson: I guess it teaches us to have compassion. To count every blessing.
*5 Statistically, the closing ratio increases by another 57% if you tie customers’ shoe lace for them.
»> Sounds convincing? I made up the numbers. But they are believable stats, regardless.
»> Two lessons:
»> #1. Numbers make a case TEN TIMES more convincing. Master your numbers, it’s the language of people at the top!
»> #2. Numbers lie. Do not take things at their face value. Always check the facts.
I visited those kids again over my 2 days visit. They vaguely remembered me until I brought up the camera. I noticed that none of them have any decent pair of shoe on their feet (some are even bare footed), it made me think. We could either talk about it, feel sorry and move on. Or, we could do something about it…
Classic example will be www.toms.com, where every pair of shoes purchased, a pair is donated to some one in the third world country.