Tell them what to buy – and make sales shine.

Tell them what to buy – and make sales shine.

Written By Jeffrey Gitomer

KING OF SALES, The author of seventeen best-selling books including The Sales Bible, The Little Red Book of Selling, and The Little Gold Book of Yes! Attitude. His live coaching program, Sales Mastery, is available at


True story:

She has about an hour and a half layover in the Pittsburgh airport. As she wondered around, she sees a shoe shine stand. The sign says, “Shine $3 Wax $5” and looking at her beat up $39.00 black boots, it is apparent this would be a good place to stop. She figures for a measly three bucks she can get them looking like new.

Business is brisk at 7:30am there are two men getting shoeshines.

Now it’s her turn. The first thing her shine guy says to her as he examines her boots is, “Looks like your shoes need a good wax.” (Hey, she only wanted the $3.00 cheapie deal.) And without a word of “OK” from her, proceeds with the “upsell” wax service.

Meantime, the gentleman that he has just finished is still standing behind him, shoes shining like a mirror in the sun waiting to pay. The shoe shine guys notices him, apologizes and says, “I’m sorry, sometimes I forget to take the money.” The customer gives him a $10 dollar bill, smiles and says, “Keep the change.” This guy just earned a $5 tip. Five bucks for the shine, five bucks for the tip. Must be a wealthy business executive on an expense account, she thought.

Now shine guy gives her his undivided attention, and goes to work on her boots. He tells her how “in need” they are offering various and sundry solid-sounding reasons about their need for regular care. She’s sitting there thinking this guy knows what he is talking about.

He works furiously on her boots explaining each operation he is performing, and how much he loves making shoes look like new. He made it sound as critical as a surgeon operating on her heart and (more important) he made her feel like she was wearing a $200 pair of boots. He was meticulous about each action he took.

During a brief silent moment as he was laboring, she thought, “I wonder if I would have gone for the full wax service if he had just asked me, Would you like a wax? I would have probably politely refused.”

The shoe shine man acted as a consultant from the first 5seconds he saw her scruffed up boots and offered the diagnosis. “Looks like your shoes need a good wax.” Leaving her helpless to defend herself (and her wallet).

She’s into it now watching every move he makes to complete the task.

After about ten minutes, he finishes and her boots look wonderful. Better than they looked when they were new. She steps down and gets out her money to pay him. He has already started with the next customer (just like he did on her), and now she’s the one waiting to pay him. He gave her no option. She handed him a $10 bill and said, “Keep the change.”

Walking away she’s thinking, “This guy just got an extra $7 bucks of mine I never thought I’d spend.” She went there thinking she’d get a cheap shine. She had run into the only consultative selling shoe shine guy in America. He earned the extra money because he told her she needed a wax, not asked her if she wanted one. Then exceeded her expectations with professional performance.

Lesson Learned: She made a mental note to start changing the way she sells. From now on, she’ll tell people what they need, then deliver beyond their expectations. If the numbers hold true, she should start doubling her sales by the end of next week.

Another Lesson Learned: As a salesperson, the more you consult, the more you’ll sell.

The Best Lesson Learned: When you become the master at what you do, and are confident in the execution of your words and actions, the customer will want to buy.

Exit Questions: Are you confident enough to tell your prospects what’s best for them? Do they have enough confidence in you to buy your advice?