Negotiate, Don’t Haggle

negoriation

“You saved $36 today!” exclaimed the clerk at JC Penny’s. “Gee, that’s great!” I replied. “I spent $31 and saved $36! What a deal!” These days, corporate retailers love to tell me how much I saved while shopping at their store: They tell me when I buy groceries, and when I buy hardware. I was even reminded of how much I “saved” the last time I got my car serviced. Sometimes, they even print the savings amount on my receipt so that I’ll be reminded of what great folks they are when I reconcile my checkbook. The crux of the

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Boost Sales by Sharing the Story Behind Your Business

business storytelling

As a “follicly challenged” gentleman, I take comfort in my collection of hats. Not for their collectible value mind you, but for their value in keeping my head warm and dry during the winter season. Being so practical about my hats, I just had to smile when I read of the recent auction sale – for $14,160 – of the baseball cap worn by Neil Armstrong after the splashdown of Apollo 11. The cap’s buyer paid over 70,000 percent more for Armstrong’s cap than I have ever paid for one of mine (usually about $20). Would Armstrong’s cap keep the

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Training Antiques Sales Associates to Succeed

training

I get a big kick out of my fellow auctioneers. Some of them (especially the newbies) think that auctioneers are such great salesmen. Wherever auctioneers gather, you will see a few of them assembled telling “war stories” and comparing notes about what they and others have sold. At some point in the conversation, someone will proclaim “(insert name here) was a great salesman! He could sell anything!” Give me a break. How hard is it, really, to stand in front of a crowd, call bids and declare an item sold to the highest bidder, regardless of the price? Such sales

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Engage Your Customers for Repeat Business

engage customers

When I saw the headline I laughed out loud. It read “The Future of e-Commerce is Offline.” Now wait a minute … haven’t we been told for the past two decades that the future of retailing was online? That in the future there would be no bricks-and-mortar stores, just websites? Well, it appears as though that tune is changing. Now, it seems, companies that built their businesses online must have physical locations to grow. Antique dealers are smiling, because we never abandoned bricks-and-mortar stores in the first place. Although many Mom-and-Pop dealers have added online selling as a distribution channel,

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Getting Past “Just Looking”

man looking at vintage records

The most thought-provoking comment I’ve heard lately came just last week from the mouth of a four-year-old boy. I was browsing through the men’s department of a mall store when the four-year-old appeared, holding his mother’s hand. A clerk asked the mother: “Can I help you?” and without dropping a beat the young boy replied: “Just looking.” Then the clerk turned and left. I don’t know which stunned me more, the response of the child or the response of the clerk. Clearly, the boy thought that “just looking” was the proper response to give to a retail clerk; he had

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Don’t Let Sales Get Thrown Under the Bus

bus

American popular culture loves a catchphrase. Always has. In the 1890s, businessmen were anxious to “get down to brass tacks,” and a well-heeled customer who was satisfied with his purchases was “as happy as a clam.” In the 1990s, if a customer discovered that a dealer’s claims were all smoke and mirrors, then the deal “went down the tubes,” and it was “hasta la vista, baby.” The latest popular catchphrase — “thrown under the bus” — was originally used by sports writers. Referring to the team bus, an athlete was either in favor (on the bus) or out of favor

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In-Store Spending on the Rise (Again)

sales

It seems that eCommerce and Big Retail have finally learned what we antique dealers have known all along: Customers prefer to handle and inspect an item before they buy it. For years, retail analysts have touted online selling as being the future of retailing. And in the board rooms of The Big Guys, decisions were made on the basis of that research. If research produced credible numbers, you see, then highly paid execs could point to the research as the basis for their decision-making. Boards of directors would then be happy and the execs could keep their jobs. “Show me

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Achieve Higher Prices Through Storytelling

pink-horse

A baseball cap worn by Neil Armstrong after the Apollo 11 mission sells for $12,000. A typewriter belonging to novelist Cormac McCarthy sells for $254,500. A football used during the NFL’s “deflategate” scandal sells for $43,740. Baseball caps and footballs are commonly available for under $10; typewriters for under $100. Clearly, in the above sales the extrinsic value of the items greatly exceeded the intrinsic, functional value of the items. A $6 baseball cap shades the eyes as well as Armstrong’s $12,000 cap. A $100 typewriter types as well (in some cases) as a $254,000 typewriter. As antique dealers, we understand that an antique’s

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Rousing Customers’ Senses Leads to Closing Sales

arouse senses

All the marketing you’ve ever done to promote your business is completely wrong and has been a gross waste of money. At least that’s what Dr. Neal Martin would have us believe in his book “Habit: The 95% of Behavior Marketers Would Have Us Ignore.” I’m not convinced by Dr. Martin’s book. Effective marketing has a natural flow, and “Habit” would have us attempt to short-circuit that flow. Dr. Martin’s argument – that customers act out of habit rather than conscious design – is based on research by cognitive scientists who contend that up to 95 percent of our behavior

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