Commentary by Tom Columbia

Cold Calls - Chapter Two

Why The Buyer Walks Away And Says, “Let me think about it.”


My previous article detailed the significance of getting an audience through a successful introduction (cold call) and establishing a reciprocal relationship. In the meeting I offered an open challenge to a scissors cutting performance and its impact on productivity, this precipitated an opportunity for a presentation with a few of the salon’s staff. I eased into the moment by clarifying that today’s process begins by inviting them to reveal what is unique about their scissors, and this is the turning point that converts the meeting to a relaxed dialogue about their individual scissors. Rather than discussing a product brand or prices in my opening comments I explicitly engaged the stylist into “talking scissor talk,” then using their feedback I have them apply basic techniques that would improve their scissor’s function.

Group tablet.jpg

Establishing a lasting position as a preferred vendor is the primary objective of a cold call and it needs a foundation which you can add to with each visit. Within any group of stylists there will be a patchwork of exceptional practices as well as self-perpetrated habits that interfere with a scissor’s function, these are open-ended opportunities to foster a connection. Praising exceptional practices has impact when explicit references are made that these methods allow for a more perfect haircut and do not impede the scissor.

Bringing everyone under a universally recognized viewpoint on how scissors work not only makes sense it eliminates appeasing a multitude of concepts that are at best marginally effective. Every stylist needs to be comfortable knowing that whether they use the principles being recommended, or not, this is a methodology offering a verifiable outcome that can improve most any scissor’s ability. It is inevitable that someone will ask if you brought scissors, be patient, if the topic of your product enters before the right moment the presentation jumps past the most important first step of identifying a need. It is disruptive to the entire group to abruptly start to randomly look at scissors. Stay with the original format of confirming a mutual understanding of the benefits of the scissors features as a buyer is about to use them, it reinforces the purpose of the evaluation, plus, it engages the entire group.

It would benefit the industry if we could agree that all scissors are not of an equal quality and that there are distinct levels of excellence that are established when it is manufactured. In-fact identical scissors used by various stylist will be evaluated and the assessments can fluctuate according to each stylist’s adherence to Basic Career Disciplines. Discussing these principles prior to a scissor’s evaluation will clearly offer insight when analyzing the final findings, whether the stylist gives a positive or negative review. Taking these beliefs seriously would re-enforce the reasoning to stock inventory that is always of a reliable quality. Receiving a negative review on a product that you unequivocally trust allows for the opportunity to redirect your presentation with another scissor.

An alternative would be to delicately examine with the group why this one scissor would cut poorly during this single evaluation, yet it functions perfectly when you retest it. It's been my experience that examining the cause of a negative assessment is quite enlightening when the participants can witness a firsthand resolution to an easy adjustment to the scissor or make a slight hand alignment. Stylists are very inquisitive to learn why scissors can produce a variety of results depending on the way they are held and why scissors can be fickle when specific cutting methods are employed. I can assure you that this portion of the demonstration attracts attention and confirms that the majority of minor scissor malfunctions are user initiated. On the spot problem solving for common scissor issues is a learning moment that builds confidence and credibility. Unquestionably the scissor needs to be in perfect working condition for the evaluation. Understanding why scissors can have mystifying events guide the stylist to stay ahead of redundant problems, everyone wins. Nothing makes your product look better than a knowledgeable customer.

Remarkably, stylist will talk about their scissors in an open and direct way, their appreciation and frustrations are equally intermingled into this type of conversation. Offering insight that can improve a scissors performance and their cutting technique is highly inspiring and this is why stylist constantly reinforce their expertise. Talking about the stylist’s scissors during the initial meeting recognizes their previous good decision making, it is natural for them to acknowledge how much things have evolved since that time, and what would they do differently today is silently implied. Any previous good choices that they have made can be transferred to any current information that you offer.

Point of view.png

To see the other persons point of view, ask obvious question.

Undoubtedly there will be inquiries, and these will lead to a constructive comparison of individual concepts that can be easily resolved by the haircutters themselves through self-imposed scrutiny. Without a doubt, setting the proper tension, having upper hand control, and maintaining the correct edge on a scissor is unquestionably the universal standard. When discussing the fundamentals of what makes scissors work effectively it sets basic rules that defines the words and their meanings so that the seller and buyer are connecting from the same understanding. Then the positive aspect of the product becomes obvious, and a genuine dialogue ensues.

Often, I have observed stylists attending haircutting demonstrations, they are not there because they lack the skills being witnessed, they are confirming what they believe to be true. Assessing every hand position, validating the angle of the hair being held, noticing the crisp line of the partings, body posture, the scissors precise position when slice or point cutting, or how the hair is managed when confirming the shape and movement of the style. Silently they imagine themselves doing the demonstration and mentally cataloguing the details that need bolstering in their own methods. Is this not similar to the process of the sharpeners mindset when attending a sharpening seminar to empower their own skills. Stylist just as the sharpener constantly strive to improve their abilities and then offer their feedback with their colleagues, this is the fundamental nature of a conversation about using scissors.

The unveiling of any fragility (identifying a need) in their methods will often initiate considering (exploring a solution) a new product or an innovative technique (selection of a solution). Every buyer, including you, follows this natural process. Any disruption in this sequence requires a quick re-start to reset the process by re-identifying the need, re-exploring the solution, and finally confirming the selection, as this will enhance the probability of a commitment. Avoid hearing a buyer say, let me think about it, by not disrupting their capacity to think through the solution.

Learning to recognize the buyer’s position in this process can be revealed with questions (get information) that inquire about their opinion (feedback) on what they have just heard or seen. Getting a commitment(purchasing) is when the buyer accepts that the solutions value will resolve their need and the acceptable cost is determined by the significance of that solution. It is never about the physical product, what people buy is the benefits (value) offered by the product (solution).

Prematurely introducing price and then discounting as a selling point is an admission that your product is overpriced, value is assessed by the amount of benefit it projects to the buyer, selling confirms your ability to defend that value. This is not avoiding the issue of price; the purpose of the evaluation is to accurately identify the buyers needs before placing the scissors in their hands. Objections to price arise when a products value has been misdirected in the sales presentation or there has been a legitimate miscalculation of the buyer’s needs. Before any products are initially displayed take time to address that your scissors are competitively priced and match defined performance levels of good, better, and best. Offering a beginning and ending price range will ease any apprehension of affordability. Each buyer, even the quiet one’s, determine their budget based on the value that they place on their career, not what they charge for haircutting services. Emphasize that the three levels of scissors are all razor sharp and designed for even the most experienced stylist. What varies at each level is their unique options that can benefit any individual haircutting techniques that will produce a more precise haircut. Even though you might not cut hair, you are an expert on every aspect of a scissors function and abilities, and the go-to resource for any question they might have.

Take away the price debate by having a prepared process of recognizing authentic buyers as the priority and then the genuine sales will not fade away. Randomly doling out scissors or allowing stylist to remove them from the display without a defined purpose creates a disorganized message, and very few sales. There are three types of questions that easily reveal the most serious buyers. It is effective when exploring product options during one-on-one presentations and most helpful when there are multiple presumed buyers all wanting attention. The intent is to recognize the actual buyers by getting information about a need, giving feedback that will resolve that need, and this will lead toward a mutually agreed upon solution.

Small group.jpg

All eyes are on the authority figure in the room, you. First, tell everyone to bring at least one of their favorite scissors, no exceptions. Take charge, it is expected and will relax the group, rearrange seating, or pull everyone in closer to any visual aids. Make a brief introduction of yourself, why you are there and their benefit for attending. Set the agenda as a group effort, there will be questions and that their response will make the program fascinating.