Don’t ask. Tell.
That was the best allotment of admonition I got afore I started my about-face as a grocery abundance sample lady.
“Say, ‘I accept a Reuben sandwich for you!’ ” brash Denise LeClaire, a Lunds & Byerlys aliment expert. “Don’t say, ‘Do you appetite a sample?’ That gives them the adventitious to say no.”
I stood beside LeClaire at the Plymouth bazaar on a contempo Friday, afterward her suggestions as we broken sandwiches into eighths, again plopped the agreeable slivers into tiny cups to administer to athirst shoppers.
I approved to answer her words and the accent of her articulation (which managed to be friendly, auspicious and booming all at the aforementioned time), while she accomplished me: eye contact. Split-second timing. Artefact knowledge.
Turns out there’s a lot added to actuality a sales adviser (the abstruse name for sample lady) than afraid a tidbit on a toothpick.
I’ve had a allure with sample ladies aback my children, who are now adults, were benumbed in the grocery cart. I was alive allotment time then, and during the amaranthine winter months aback I was home with preschoolers, sample day got us out of the house. I came to anticipate of sample day as Mommy’s account trick-or-treating after the costumes, and with those accommodating sample ladies accouterment the goodies.
I capital to see if I had it in me — the geniality, the allowance of gab that it takes to accomplish it in the grocery bendable sell. So I asked (OK, I begged) and was accustomed to cull a single, contributed about-face as a sample lady.
A adornment is born
I accustomed at the abundance in the appropriate white, long-sleeved shirt, atramentous pants and close-toed atramentous shoes and was accustomed a atramentous apron, forth with a name tag.
Kristi Ryan, contest and audience administrator for Lunds & Byerlys, spelled out the job requirements:
• No cellphones, gum chewing, beverages or tasting the samples allowed.
•Wear food-handling gloves and change them every time you blemish your adenoids or align your hair.
• Get to the point.
“When you’re onstage,” as Ryan alleged the sampling station, “you accept 8 abnormal to authorize eye contact, accost the bedfellow and accomplish the offer. It acclimated to be 30 seconds, but now it’s zip, zip, zip. If you don’t appoint quickly, you’ll never get to the food.”
My better anguish was how to handle a angel who savors the sample a little too much. But I was afraid to apprentice that it’s attenuate for shoppers to accomplish nuisances of themselves. Should anyone overindulge, I was not to say a word.
Not alike a bedraggled look?
“Oh, no. We never alarm them out,” Ryan said. “Let them accept as abounding as they want. At some point, a bedfellow authoritative laps will feel added awkward than you do.”
Little tastes, big business
For shoppers, sampling is a affable way to accomplish a banal assignment into a snackfest. But for grocery stores, abundant added is at stake.
“When you can get the chump to try the product, it’s a huge win in marketing,” said George John, a assistant of business for the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota.
In fact, analysis suggests that accepting article for nothing, alike a tiny taste, triggers a hidden acknowledgment in some shoppers.
“There’s a quid pro quo, a amusing burden to reciprocate,”said John. “When addition describes the accomplished appearance of the sample, a faculty of obligation bliss in. There’s some affirmation in the abstracts that bodies who don’t buy the featured artefact will addition their all-embracing purchases. They won’t advisedly think, ‘I took three pieces of cheese, so I will buy added toilet paper,’ but they do.”
Plus, sampling is one of the few business techniques that no one altar to.
“Ads aggravate people, acid coupons can actualize a faculty of irritation,” he said. “The alone affair bodies ability not like about [getting a sample] is cat-and-mouse in band to get theirs.”
And the try generally leads to a buy.
But with sampling, the articles are alone allotment of the pitch. Equally acute is the address of the bodies who action the toothpicked treats.
Lunds & Byerlys uses a aggregate of abundance advisers and contractors as their sample ambassadors. In the Twin Cities, several companies accommodate accomplished sales staff, best of whom accomplish amid $15 and $18 an hour. It’s a part-time gig that appeals to mostly changeable retirees, calm parents and bodies attractive to supplement their income.
I accept to admit, it’s harder than it looks.
I was afflicted by the way LeClaire consistently formed “Lunds & Byerlys” into her chatter, like a bestselling columnist consistently active a new book.
“That’s our Lunds & Byerlys Kobe corned beef, on appropriate and so tender!” LeClaire said smoothly. “It’s in the affectation with our Lunds & Byerly’s Thousand Island dressing, it’s got the tang.”
She was additionally able to bound and calmly bang off the account of capacity in a sample and all of their attributes.
After abashed through a few efforts, I kept it simple: “Isn’t that pumpernickel good?” I managed to discharge out.
No amount how affable I approved to be, it bound became accessible that some shoppers didn’t affliction for a nosh, behindhand of its attributes. They gave me advanced anchorage and advisedly abhorred eye contact. A few others put the little cup aback back they spotted the shreds of sauerkraut.
“Don’t booty it personally,” LeClaire aside to me.
By the time I took off my accessory at the end of my shift, my anxiety hurt, my adenoids was amazing from the aroma of sauerkraut and I was all out of baby talk. But I larboard with an alike greater acknowledgment for all of the grocery abundance samples I’ve snarfed over the years, and the bodies who’ve affably offered them to me.
And there may be added area that came from.
The Carlson School’s John predicts that sampling will become a added admired allotment of the business action for grocery stores.
“It’s an ancient technique, but it’s a differentiator for grocers badly aggravating to get barter in the store,” he said. “Grazing is a fun allotment of the ambience. Amazon and the commitment casework haven’t begin a way to get in on this. So far, there are no drones bottomward off little tastes of food.”
Kevyn Burger is a Minneapolis-based freelance anchorperson and writer.
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