A couple wonders into the store and they show an interest in the new top-loader. They show all the buying signals – touching the merchandise, reading the labels. The sales person approaches:
SP: ‘Good morning folks, I see you are looking at the XYZ model, but unfortunately it is so popular, we just sold the last one to another customer. I don’t think we will be getting any more…’
Customer: ‘Really? Oh no…’
SP: ‘Yes they are very popular because they use so little water – and there is the $150 rebate from Government that goes with it.’
C: ‘You sure you don’t have any more – maybe in another branch?’
SP: ‘I don’t think so, but I’d be happy to go and have a look out back. If do have one, would you be willing to take it straight away?’
C: ‘Yeah sure.’
SP: ‘I’ll be right back.’
[SP leaves the showroom temporarily, only to return beaming from ear to ear.]
SP: ‘Good news folks, we happen to have one just like that. How would you like to pay for it?’
This sales person knew how to apply the Scarcity Principle in the sales situation. Not only did he induce ‘scarcity’ by claiming it was the last one, he made sure that the customers knew that there is a lot of competition for this ‘scarce’ item. (This is a necessary prerequisite as scarcity in and of itself is not sufficient.)
The only problem is of course that he was misleading the customer and if that did not get him (and his employer) in trouble; at the very least it is an example of bad service that is bound to be caught out sooner or later. It is also not a very good way of building customer relations and getting repeat business, because by the time they get home, the couple will suspect (if not know outright) that they have been conned. They might not talk about – for fear of feeling stupid – but they just won’t come back.
Like the other 5 principles of selling, this principle (of scarcity) is powerful, but sales people who have developed these skills intuitively and don’t know how to correctly apply it, are dangerous to the health of your business.
Proper (retail) sales training is of course the answer: not only to turn the average performers into stars, but to properly channel those ‘good’ (but dangerous) sales people who may have acquired these principles intuitively, instead of having been taught the right way.