The other day I stopped in at my local furrier. I had a wool coat with fur trim which I love but the lining was ripped. Since Fall is coming, I thought I should replace the lining before the cold weather arrives. The manager was sitting at his desk and buzzed me into the store. Years ago I had bought a coat there and thought they might offer this service. After a brief hello, and with coat in hand, I asked him if he could put in a new lining. He wasn't sure. He said, "The person who does this won't be in until Monday. I don't know if we put in warmer liners. Maybe Dawn would know if you call her". "Warmer liners?" I asked incredulously. "I didn't ask for a warmer liner". "Oh, people sometimes want warmer liners in their coats," he explained. He sounded ditzy and was not presenting himself in a way that inspired confidence. "This lining is ripped and I want to replace it", I told him. "A regular lining? We can do that," he said and proceeded to grab my coat and put it on a hanger. "It will be expensive," he stated. "It will cost $215 dollars." "No thanks," I said, and left the store with my coat. I was so turned off by his poor presentation. He didn't listen, didn't ask a question, didn't look at the coat, and didn't seem to know what service was available. There was no way he was getting my business. People will pay more for value, but based on his presentation I didn't value him or his service. So I visited my local dry cleaner who had done some tailoring for me in the past. She looked at the coat, determined how much it would cost to purchase the material and the time to construct the lining and gave me a price. It was a lot less. Done. She got my business.
Had the first vendor been a better communicator I might have done business with him. After all, I didn't know the standard cost of a lining. But because of his poor presentation he seemed dispassionate and uninformed. I walked out. He lost $215 in five minutes because of his presentation and he probably thinks the reason was strictly price. I've come to realize that I show people how to monetize their mouth. People gain and lose business opportunities every day because of how they present themselves. Speaking is the new competitive weapon.
What are your stories about the impact of presentation skills on business opportunities?