Three Shades of Selling, from Horrible to Great

It was a long day. We were on a mission, shopping for a necklace for a particular dress I’ll be wearing for a special occasion this month. We visited three different jewelry departments in three swanky department stores: Bloomingdale’s, Neiman Marcus, and Saks.

The customer experience I had at each store was different—and it wasn’t until I hit Saks, where the saleswoman led the pack by miles—that I realized why she was so successful and why the first two failed.

Of course I can relate the experience to printing sales. Check it out.

Saleswoman number one clearly had the “I-don’t-care-what-you-want” attitude. “I’m just here to make the sale.” She dutifully brought out pieces I pointed out. I swear that I was boring her. Even after I described the dress I was trying to match, she was less than enthused. She responded like so: “ .” Yes, that’s right; she said nothing.

I was talking to myself, I guess. There was no way I’d buy from her.

Saleswoman number two was much friendlier. Chatty, patient, answered all of my questions and she showed me several necklaces I liked. One or two pieces might’ve work, but still, I wasn’t convinced.

It was saleswoman number three that got it right. She came over to me with a broad smile, asking, “How can I help you today?” That kicked off as pleasant a shopping experience as I’ve had in years. She was the only one to ask the key question: “What does your dress look like?” And…we were off!

Just so you don’t get the wrong idea, this was costume jewelry. We weren’t dropping big bucks on this purchase. Yet, she treated us as if we were purchasing the Hope Diamond. She asked if I’d brought a picture (I hadn’t, but I found a photo on my smartphone and showed her). She took a lot of time listening and showing me samples. In the end, there were two terrific candidates, and thanks to her, I chose the ideal piece for the occasion.

Long regarded as a print buyer expert and trade writer, Margie Dana launched her new business in 2013 as a marketing communications strategist with a specialty in printing and print buying. Now she’s on a mission to help clients build customer communities through carefully crafted content.

You may know Margie as the producer of the annual Print & Media Conference. Although she’s exited the event production business, she’s still publishing her Print Tips newsletter. She looks forward to helping companies create and style all of their content so their potential customers sit up and take notice. For details and to sign up for her Print Tips and new marketing blog, visit or e-mail Margie at
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