I was walking through a Home Depot store recently when a friendly and outgoing associate approached me. Since I’m usually walking the aisles just to observe, I frequently tend to look lost. I thought there must be a mistake: a Home Depot associate proactively engaging me? I kept my eyes peeled for a flying pig.
I wondered how this associate had slipped through their hiring process. Home Depot is usually very good at hiring people who do a good job of looking busy but who usually don’t speak unless spoken to.
He asked me if there was anything in my kitchen that I’d like to improve. I told him, “Perhaps a new faucet.” He asked if there was anything else. I told him, “A new garbage disposal.” I still wasn’t giving him the answer he wanted, so he asked if I’d thought about updating my cabinets and counter tops.
I told him that while I’d love a new kitchen, I hadn’t thought about it much, as I thought of it as a very large expenditure.
You don’t come to Home Depot for a new kitchen; you come to replace a faucet.
Then, he pulled out a brochure and told me about how they could resurface my cabinets to give me a new kitchen at a lower cost. When I expressed a little interest, he went right for the close. He tried to set up an in-home appointment with a kitchen designer.
I told him that I would have to discuss it with my wife first. I told him I would show her the brochure he had handed me. He then told me that I couldn’t have the brochure; it was his only one. I then asked for a card so I could call for an appointment. Guess what, he didn’t have a card and couldn’t tell me whom to call.
The goal should be to get in the home.
He became lost. This wasn’t part of the script, and he couldn’t adapt. The result was that it only reinforced my belief that you don’t go to a big box for a major project; you go to buy a product like a faucet.
I think it’s great to be approached in store as a way to sell more installed sales projects, but here’s how this situation could have had a better outcome:
1. Why not have these roving people aid in the sale of any project? I was just leaving the closet system aisle when I was approached. Why couldn’t he have asked about my interest in closets? Had he done so, he’d probably have been more successful in getting someone in my home.
The goal should be to get in the home. You are now in front of the wife and can inquire about many potential projects now and for the future.
2. While we have moved away from printed literature to online, in-store selling is an occasion where a piece of literature is a good idea. A piece of literature is more likely to get home and be considered. At the very least, the associate should have had a card with a website and phone number to hand out.
Why not help the customer buy what he wants when he wants it?
Here’s what I bet happened:
A kitchen resurfacing company came to the buyer, and they came up with the idea of having a roving sales person who is there to set up in-home appointments to discuss kitchens. The kitchen company probably paid for the in-store person and his training.
Big boxes are a bunch of category silos only thinking about themselves, as that’s how their performance is measured. You won’t find them thinking about the whole store or the customer.
A better way would be for the big box to have one or two roving installed sales people per store who are employed by the big box or a third party.
Any company that has a product that can be part of installed sales, such as siding, windows, roofing, doors, insulation, bath, and kitchen etc. could be asked to partially fund these sales people. Or they could be charged when an installed sale is made.
This way they would be growing sales for the overall store by better meeting the needs of the customer. This would lead to more in-home sales calls where the sales person could identify additional projects for now and the future.