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Eileen McClelland

The Story of a Failed Sale



My brother, Sean, and I ventured into a chain furniture store today, scouting out couches for my mom. Her current 30-year-old leather couch has seen much better days; it’s currently duct-taped, in fact, because it’s cracking. In other words, she really does need a couch.

So, I walked in and said hello to a couple of staff members sitting at a desk near the door, and we struck off on our own, starting to looking around.

Sean and I were sitting on a $600 couch when our assigned sales person made her first approach, grimly waving a flier that explained how we could finance this relatively inexpensive couch in question without a finance charge, for 24 months. This seemed like an abrupt and unwise introduction to me! We had discussed nothing at all yet; was financing her only strategy? Why was it her first strategy? Did we look insolvent?

Shouldn’t financing be a way to overcome objections, once financial objections are identified?

When I appeared unimpressed by her financing offer (I folded it up and stuck it in my purse), she then asked some version of “What are you looking for” today?

It sounded transactional, not conversational, a tone that persisted.


I explained that my brother and I had just come in because we needed somewhere to sit.

She didn’t crack a smile.

She did ask my name and tried to use it later, but got it wrong.

I asked about how the couch was made and she said it was spring-tied, creating a “trampoline” effect, which could vault the occupant out of her seat quite easily. That sounded funny to me, and so I laughed and said, “Oh, perfect, my mother is a former gymnast!”

Again, no smile. No effort to establish rapport. She did ask how large a person my mother is. Tall? Short? Big? Small?

I conceded that she is petite.


I told her I liked the style of the couch but wasn’t crazy about the nailhead trim.

She said there were couches with more modern styling on the other side of the store.

So my brother and I wandered off over there.

When my mom joined us she thought the fabric colors I had liked were too light, so I found a couple more options she liked better, and asked our sales person if she could write down the style names and dimensions of the ones we liked.

She said we could buy it today — right now, in fact — and cancel the order in 24 hours if it wouldn’t fit in the space. I couldn’t understand why that would be an advantage over waiting to see if it would actually fit.

Regardless, she never smiled. I never felt a connection.


Those two sentences tell the whole story of a failed sale.

The topic of INSTORE’s Big Story for January 2016 will be how to build a better sales person in six months. Any suggestions? Please contact me at [email protected]

Eileen McClelland is the Managing Editor of INSTORE. She believes that every jewelry store has the power of cool within them.



Wilkerson Testimonials | Sollberger’s

Going Out of Business Is an Emotional Journey. Wilkerson Is There to Make It Easier.

Jaki Cowan, the owner of Sollberger’s in Ridgeland, MS, decided the time was right to close up shop. The experience, she says, was like going into the great unknown. There were so many questions about the way to handle the store’s going-out-of-business sale. Luckily for Cowan, Wilkerson made the transition easier and managed everything, from marketing to markdowns.

“They think of everything that you don’t have the time to think of,” she says of the Wilkerson team that was assigned to manage the sale. And it was a total success, with financial goals met by Christmas with another sale month left to go.

Wilkerson even had a plan to manage things while Covid-19 restrictions were still in place. This included limiting the number of shoppers, masking and taking temperatures upon entrance. “We did everything we could to make the staff and public feel as safe as possible.”

Does she recommend Wilkerson to other retailers thinking of retiring, liquidating or selling excess merchandise? Absolutely. “If you are considering going out of business, it’s obviously an emotional journey. But truly rest assured that you’re in good hands with Wilkerson.”

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