Selling from the Ceiling

I was recently in Philadelphia for a mastermind session, and on the way to the hotel I had the cab driver drop me at a supermarket so I could get some healthy stuff for the hotel room.  (Anything beats pretzels and $10 bowls of oatmeal)

Anyway,  I’m walking through the supermarket looking for some organic greens (yes, I know, I’m a total nerd), but I couldn’t quite find the right section.

One of the employees walked right up to me and said “can I help you find something sir?”

I had NO idea how he knew to ask, because I thought I was walking in a very determined manner towards the side of the market where I thought I’d most likely find the greens.

“How did you know to ask?” I said.

“Well”… he said…

“My boss always reminds me ‘we don’t sell anything on the ceiling'”

I smiled, took his directions, and walked out with my greens.

I couldn’t stop thinking about the interaction.

There was a LOT of marketing insight in “We don’t sell anything on the ceiling”:

  • This was a business that was proactively looking for customers with unmet needs who could be sold more…
  • This was a business which had identified the VERY PARTICULAR SIGNS these customers unconsciously emanated…
  • And a business which had trained it’s employees to recognize and act on these signs..

I was very impressed, and walked out a satisfied customer.

Which got me thinking…

How do WE identify customers ready to buy, if only we could direct them to what they’re looking for?

How can we train all of our employees, customer service people, etc. to be alert for these people,  to know how to attend to them, and be motivated to do so?

I’m not quite sure of the answer on this one, so I thought I’d ask YOU.

What do you think?

Anyone got any experience?