Julie Zeveloff/Business Insider
Mamadou N’Diaye has been selling high-end jewelry, handbags and clothing to wealthy customers at Barneys and Bergdorf Goodman for a decade and a half.A native of Senegal who spoke no English when he arrived in New York and started out as a dishwasher in the original Barneys department store, he worked his way through the ranks and now deals with a regular rotation of 50 to 75 clients.
Today as a sales associate at Bergdorfs on Fifth Avenue, he’s developed some winning philosophies for attracting and retaining customers who love to spend, spend, spend.
Don’t Judge A Customer By Her Sweatpants
“A lot of time, you see people come in dressed very well, and you get excited because you think they are going to spend all this money,” N’Diaye said. “And then you see people come with jeans or sweatpants, and they end up surprising you.”
Treat Your Employer Like Your Own Business, And Your Customer Like Your Sister
“Whenever I come into work, I run my business like I own the company. The more you help people, the more they will definitely come back to see you.”
Once, he saw a well-dressed man walk into Bergdorfs from the pouring rain. N’Diaye introduced himself as a sales associate and asked the man for his dripping suit jacket. Confused, the man obliged.
Soon, N’Diaye was back with the jacket, freshly pressed by the alterations team on the eighth floor. N’Diaye handed the jacket back to the man along with his business card.
Several months later, the man returned to buy a gift for his wife. Several other sales associates approached him, but he insisted on waiting for N’Diaye. He wounding up buying a whole lot of very expensive jewelry.
“It’s not like I have more knowledge than anyone else on the floor,” N’Diaye said. “But my philosophy is wanting to treat anyone who comes to Bergdorfs like my sister, or someone I know and care about. I think a lot of my success comes from that.”
A Sale Is Not A One-Time Event
N’Diaye is known on the sales floor for sending chocolates to clients, even the ones who return what they buy.
“I’m not looking for one sale,” he said. “I’m looking to keep people happy.”
There’s Just One Kind Of Customer To Avoid
Many of N’Diaye’s best clients are referrals sent by regular customers he has worked with for years.
But there’s one referral he prefers not to take—the best friend.
“You never want the best friend, because it becomes a competition,” he explained. “One gets a piece of jewelry and then her friend complains that she wants it too.”
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