No Sale Today
By Jennifer Boncy
January 20, 2010

I’m not in sales. Obviously. But, I seem to remember some maxim about not letting a customer leave the sales floor before the sale is closed, because once the customer says, “I’ll think about it and get back to you,” it’s over. That customer is not likely to come back.

But I’ve learned a thing or two while writing for Pet Business. That hard-sell way of thinking isn’t the only way to do things—and it’s certainly not the best way to do things, at least not for many of the successful retailers we talk to.

Sure, the goal for every retailer is to sell, but for many pet specialty retailers, the actual selling part is just one aspect of what they do. There’s often a whole lot hand-holding going on—I guess you could call it customer service, but really it’s so much more than that.

Pet owners turn to retailers with every kind of concern or problem looking for a kind, attentive ear and some good advice. And sometimes that’s all they’ll want.

On the flip side, I just got off the phone this morning with a retailer who was telling me that sometimes she’ll discourages a sale if she knows it’s not the right fit for the customer—or for the pet. She’d rather not have the sale or end up ringing up a less expensive, but more appropriate item, than having the customer go home with something they don’t need.

And I hear this repeatedly. She and so many others spend countless hours tirelessly educating, guiding and simply listening to their customers, many of whom may walk out the door without buying a thing. No questions asked. The good news: these very same people who walk out empty handed often end up becoming the life-long customers that are the lifeblood of the pet specialty industry.