Case Study #17: Trust-based Selling in the Real World

I bought some designer eyeglasses 18 months ago at Pildes Optical in Short Hills, New Jersey. I was well-served, and happy with the glasses.

A few weeks ago a tiny screw came loose. I took it in. The screw had to be factory-ordered—it was made of gold (I said they were designer).

They called me when the part came in, and I went to the store. While the manager was replacing the screw, I asked the Associate about getting a backup pair for travel overseas. I didn’t want to spend as much.

“You don’t have to,” she explained. “Here are some perfectly good-looking frames that are about half the price; if they’re just a backup, you may not care as much about the aesthetics."

“Also,” she continued, “you may not want all the features you have in the lenses themselves. You can get a perfectly good backup pair by changing a mix of lens and frame features."

"But”, she said, “how is your prescription? Does it need changing?”

“Well,” I replied, “my arms are getting a little short again when it comes to reading. It’s been a while since I got an exam.”

“You really shouldn’t think about getting a replacement set,” she said firmly, “until you’ve had your eyes examined again.”

“Actually,” I mused, “if I get a new set, then this one can be my backup, and it wouldn’t cost me anything.”

“There you go,” she smiled. “That would save you the most.”

The manager came out with my newly fixed glasses, and I took out my wallet. “No, no,” he waved his hand at me, “no charge.”
As I walked out, I realized what these people had done.

On the face of it, they turned down two transactions—a repair, and a sale (of backup glasses). But that’s just the surface.

At one level higher, they guaranteed a much bigger sale—a new set of eyewear for me—worth more than the two foregone transactions. Because they focused on the relationship, not the transaction.

At yet one level higher, they virtually guaranteed that that later sale would be to Pildes of Short Hills—not to anyone else. Because they focused on my needs, not theirs.

At a higher level still, they cemented my loyalty. Not just my repeat business; no, they got me to do something even more important. They got me to feel energized enough to, say, write about it for public consumption in my blog.

I think if I had asked them all this, they would have readily agreed to my analysis, but would probably tell me something like, “that makes sense all right, though we didn’t think it through that way. That’s just the way we believe in doing business.”

This is the paradox of Trust-based Selling®—-if you live by the principles of customer focus, collaboration, transparency and relationships-before-transactions, you will make more money than if you lived by the principle of trying to make money. It works in the real world.

And if you want to buy eyewear, I can recommend a good place.