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Why I Bought My Boots

I hate shopping. But last week, my wellies got a hole in them, I had a cold getting worse and didn’t want to get colder, so I took a trip to Burford (Cotswolds darling), in a quest to buy a replacement pair. (Read on to the end to find out the point of this – there is one.)

selling in the right way

Now, I could have gone online, but I had to overcome the cold and I had to overcome my hatred of shopping. Of course, there are side rewards from overcoming which, if you get out there, come your way. For me, that reward was sitting in Huffkins Tea Shop having a wonderful lunch – so it wasn’t all that bad.

The Search

There are 3 shops that I know of on the High Street that sell wellies. I went in to all of them.

First, to the very small shop. It seemed to sell one sort of wellie. And if I’d looked, it sold one sort of many things – later on, I found out why. But the man gave me a nice welcome as I entered and he didn’t bother me. I like to have a choice and in that shop there was none, so I moved on to the next.

The second shop is much bigger. You go in and, unless you know it, you can get lost in its majestic menagerie of different rooms and departments. A few weeks earlier, I’d been in there to buy my wife her Christmas present. Lots of choice. Eventually, I found the men’s boots department (room, or part thereof).

As with everything else, there was so much choice. I could get leather ones as well as rubber ones. I looked at a pair of Le Chameau and nearly died when I saw the price tag of £275.

No one came to help. I guess they were too busy serving others. And I couldn’t see why I should invest so much in a pair like that. Still, I’m sure there was a reason, but I wasn’t about to find out and went to the third shop.

Country clothing and dog and fishing tackle is how they described themselves. They had a few brands. Among them, Aigle and Barbour. I thought – Barbour, I know that name so wanted to find out more. £65 (appealed to my Yorkshire instinct right away) would get me a fine pair and I’m sure they would last 10 years plus.

Someone came to talk to us and explained that her friend swore by the Aigles, but that they were a lot more expensive. I asked to try both of them on. They didn’t have either in the right size and she brought down an alternative pair of Aigles.

Feeling a bit downtrodden (and without boots), I decided to go back to the first shop – Elm of Burford – yet again, we were welcomed, but this time with a hello “again”.

I headed for the boots while Claire went elsewhere. The assistant asked me what I was looking for. I asked if he sold Barbour. Which he did, but not the wellies; the coats yes, but not the wellies.

It turns out that they only stock Aigle wellies because they’re the best. He said they were made of natural rolled rubber, that they hand made rather than blow moulded (even Le Chameau and Barbour were blow moulded).

He said there were three types of material in the heal and two in the sole. With an insert, these boots would be good enough for long walks and for every day dog walking; he and his wife both used them.

Whereas I didn’t have a choice of brand, I did have a choice in terms of warmth. Either neoprene lined, which kept his wife’s feet cozy, or unlined which he had. When needed, he added a pair of liners – which made the boot all season. He clearly knew what he was talking about.

The price – £140 unlined. £190 lined.

The Point

Where do you think I bought my boots from?

Was it the people who had loads of stock and different brands but didn’t sell them? Or was it the people who had no stock, but had a friend who swore about a certain brand as being the best – but didn’t know why?

Or was it the shop where the assistant paid attention to me, treated me as an intelligent human being? Someone who clearly knew why the boot they sold was the best and took an interest in the different reasons why one might buy the boot. They were an expert in their field (excuse the pun).

After a few minutes I was sold. This wasn’t because of exhaustion and frustration from shopping; I enjoyed what I was learning. I relayed to Claire the reasons why this boot was for me. Once we’d bought the Aigles from Elm, I was even asking him for advice on the care for the other boots in our family.

Why did I buy?

Sitting back and thinking about it, this is what Elm did:

1. He said “hi” and then left me to mind my own business.

2. He let me build up my own knowledge on the subject matter in hand.

3. When I came back, he acknowledged me as having been there before (nice touch)

4. When I was ready, he built further on my knowledge and gave me a few pieces of value – hand made, long lasting, he wore them (and so did his wife), how they were different from other brands.

5. He made sure he knew what I wanted them for and thus made the sale relevant to my needs (short or long walks, but mainly dog walking)

By this time I was sold and the price was just the price (I went for the unlined because they were all season). I’ll probably buy some socks from him and maybe even the Possum Fur Insoles!

So, I was victorious in my quest. I’d overcome my hatred of shopping and at the same time come home with a great pair of wellies. An example of some good retailing and great selling techniques. The lessons learned can be transferred to selling in any walk of life.

Do you have any similar experiences that you could relay? Let me know in the comments below.