Honestly Losing the Sale

What would you rather have: A person to whom you never sold anything, speaking well of you, or a person to whom you DID sell something speaking badly of you?

Today a prospective customer emailed wanting kefir grains. He said he thought the best option would be some fresh grains and some dried grains. He then said he was in Germany, serving in the military, and would need them shipped Priority through an APO.

I could do that. We always ship fresh grains Priority. But I ship them Priority to speed the delivery. Kefir grains are a live thing. They require food to live. We put them in milk each night, and they thrive through the night to the next day, when we drain off the spent milk (it is now very low on food for them, but high in probiotics for us), and replace it with new. As the grains grow, we give them more milk until we divide the grains and lower the amount again. Over and over we do this, to keep them fed and happy and growing and healthy.

When we ship them, they are a lot like baby ducklings. They can survive a day or two in the mail, but they cannot survive many days. Kefir degrades in quality day by day, and after 5-6 days, there really isn’t anything but a stinking pile of goo left, which may or may not be revivable using the most aggressive resuscitation methods.

When you ship through an APO, it goes Priority to the receiving station in the US, where the military then transports it to the duty station. A process of six days or more.

I explained this to the customer. I also pointed him to our shopping cart for the grains (he had seen the ad for them on another site which did not point to the cart).

He emailed back shortly with a few more questions, and thanks for explaining that to him. He decided to order the dried grains, and said he’d also like some other products which he found on the site with the cart.

I lost a sale of milk kefir grains. Had I not explained, he may have still chose to purchase other products from us as well, or not. I had no way of knowing what he’d do when I told him about the shipping issue. He did decide to order the other grains from me.

There have been many times when a customer has asked to make purchases and I’ve told them that what I was selling might not be the best option for them. It comes down to one simple principle:

  • I would rather have someone out there who did not buy from me who has a good opinion of me, than someone to whom I sold something dishonestly that has a bad opinion of me.

There are enough things in business that you CAN’T fully control which will leave you with dissatisfied customers, there is no need to make it worse by a poor choice.

Honesty up front about the limitations of what you sell will more often increase trust than give a bad opinion of you to the customer.

Today was a cool experience. It doesn’t always come back and reward you immediately. It is sure nice though, when it does!

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