Two sales trainers on opposite sides of the Atlantic form the basis for an argument for doing business

Comment: What’s more important, a passion for bikes, or business?

This month’s comment is once again based around my time on the road, both visiting bike shops and the February iceBike* show, held by distributor Madison.

Each and every year, brand managers and guest speakers are invited to fly into Milton Keynes to meet the UK’s retailers – something done at the expense of the wholesaler to add value to dealers visit.

This year I was fortunate enough to catch guest speaker and president of sales training firm Growth Cycle, Ray Keener – who also writes for the US equivalent of BikeBiz, Bicycle Retailer and Industry News.

Given the unconfirmed rumour that I may, or may not, occasionally mystery shop among the great and good of the bike trade, Keener and I had plenty to discuss on the topic of shop floor behaviour. Not just that of hired help either…

I could bore you with a transcript of our conversation, but would rather thrash out a few points we found common both here and on the other side of the Atlantic.

Passion for bikes, though essential if you’re to stay sane, is almost irrelevant day-to-day. A passion for business is what’s needed. Technical jargon and information about carbon fibre is only necessary if your store caters solely to the experienced gear freak. The newbie hasn’t the faintest idea what a chainset is, nor do they really want to know. Your average customer simply wants to understand why this bike best fits their needs, how to work the gears and what accessories are available to help them carry their shopping.

“Are you looking to buy today” is a key phrase in Keener’s presentation. It sorts the time wasters from the genuinely interested, for starters. A simple request such as “would you like to place a deposit so we hold this bike for you” has always hit a chord with me. I’m put on the spot. If I genuinely had been thinking of taking up cycling, that question alone would be enough to help me take that first step.

The UK’s counterpart to Keener, Colin Rees writes on page nine of this issue of BikeBiz’s print edition about his main pet peeve, stemming from his years as a sales trainer. Again, Rees’ rant rings true with my own experiences in more stores than you might expect. Discounts are offered, regardless of whether price is mentioned, or if I had outlined upper or lower spend limits. “I’ll do you a deal” may well seem friendly and a good way to get custom, but friend or not, I’m your customer and you run a business. After all, if I wanted a cheaper bike, I’d be Googling from the comfort of my sofa.

In other news...

The top five jobs in the bike trade this week – 29th September

The BikeBiz jobs board helped filled over 740 positions in 2022, and listings are still …