A Cab Driver’s Observation

Mark Ramsey at the Hear 2.0 blog writes about an interesting conversation he had with a taxi driver recently.  Mark is in media research and he asked the cabby about satellite radio.  Her answer?  "I don’t pay for radio."  She’s perfectly happy with her favorite station and has no interest in the new technology.  Then the driver made a very profound statement:  "

"The eye wants the new, but the ear wants the familiar."

In other words, people look at what’s new, but they want to hear something that they can relate to.  Mark goes on to discuss what this idea means to his readers in the media business, but it also has some implications for those of us in sales.  Think about it.  People come into your store to see what’s new.  What’s exciting?  What’s the latest thing?  We know that.

But how do we make the presentation?  Don’t we have to put the latest and greatest in terms that are familiar to the customer?  Don’t we have to start with where they are now before we can take them to where they need to be? 

Suppose we take Mark’s example of satellite radio.  Before you can understand the new technology, you have to know the current technology.  Regular radio signals travel through the air for a limited distance.  Satellite radio signals bounce of stationary satellites and can be picked up all over the United States.  You get the idea.  If you’ve never lost a radio signal while you were on a trip, the new service makes no sense at all.  You have to start with what they already know.

Your store may be the place to go to see all the newest products, but it had better be comfortable and familiar or most customers just won’t shop there.  We’ve seen it many times.  A new retailer comes to town, possibly one that’s been very successful in another part of the country, but for whatever reason, their style, their atmosphere, their way of doing business just doesn’t fit into the community.  That’s an advantage to the independent retailer. 

New products are exciting, but people want to do business with people they know and trust, and that’s you.  So, bring in those new products.  Create some excitement in your store.  But don’t stray too far from the formula that made you successful in the first place.  Be the merchant they know and trust and they’ll keep coming back for more.

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