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Lessons From Brooks Brothers

A couple of years ago, I walked into a Brooks Brothers Outlet Store. It is the only Brooks Brothers in Nebraska. I was thinking about a new suit but only looking at that point.

The manager, Gino, greeted me. I told him that I was thinking about a suit. He asked me a series of questions: What did I do? How often did I wear a suit? What colors do I like? He had me try on a couple of suits and made sure that I looked great in them. As he asked me about shirts and ties to go with the suits, he was already putting together several combinations that complemented the suits I liked.

It was an incredible experience. I walked out of the store with two suits, four shirts, ties, and a sport coat. I had just spent a lot of money but felt like a million dollars.

Compare that with the usual men's clothing store experience. The only question they ask is your size. Then you are shown a rack of suits in your size. When buying a suit in those stores you’re buying a commodity.

What did Gino do differently? He asked questions so that he could understand my needs. He provided value, and in doing so created an experience for his client.

What if someone calls and wants to buy a $250,000 20-year term policy? Will you simply provide them with a quote? If you do, you are selling a commodity. Or will you take the time to ask, “Why $250,000? How did you arrive at that amount? Why 20-year term?” When you ask questions, you understand your prospect's needs. Only then can you offer options and provide value.

Are you providing a commodity or providing a value?