Discovering Hidden Gems

(And Explaining Them To Customers)

Being able to communicate subtle selling points for “hidden gems” like the S&W CSX
can close unexpected sales for you. (Image: Smith & Wesson)

Let me share a brief customer/seller story beyond the world of the gun. Any product of any kind may have certain features that will appeal to the customer, but if the seller doesn’t think about them and bring them to the customer’s attention there may not be a sale.

Let’s go back 15 years. My wife and I were looking to buy a new minivan. As it happens, she and I both carry guns and occasionally have to lock them in the car when we go into a courthouse or something similar. Suppose the handgun is left in the same glove box holding the registration papers. On the way from the courthouse, we get pulled over for, oh, rolling through a stop sign without a full stop. The cop will ask for, among other things, the vehicle registration and proof of insurance normally kept in the glove box. 

As either the husband or the wife reaches into the open glove box the officer sees the pistol and … well, you can see the potentially life-threatening problem.

The 2010 Dodge Caravan, it turned out, had a wonderful dashboard layout with a conventional glove box above, and a lockable one below. It bought the dealership and the salesman the sale of a new vehicle that day. We could keep a gun in the locked bottom one and the papers we’d need to reach for safely away from it in the top one.

The lesson: It had never occurred to the dealer’s salesman to tell us this very useful and important-to-us feature. We had to spot it for ourselves.

In the world of personal protection firearms, there are features that can make or break a sale, too. You as a dealer and all of your sales personnel need to realize this, or you’ll lose some sales. Never forget your biggest advantage over big-box dealers is your knowledge of guns in all their subtleties of use!

A Case In Point

A couple of years ago, Smith & Wesson introduced its CSX 9mm pistol. It’s single action, hammer fired with an ambidextrous thumb safety and slide stop, has an aluminum frame and comes with 10- and 12-round magazines. It has not sold nearly as well as I think it should nationwide (though I do find dealers who sell them so fast they can’t keep them in stock). These pistols, not being the currently popular polymer frame/striker-fired/optics-adaptable genre, just don’t catch the shooting public’s attention.

Gun shops would sell a helluva lot more of them if they reminded their customers of the following:

The S&W CSX is comparable in size and weight to the old Walther PPK .380, but has a much more workable 1911-ish thumb safety, shoots the ammo it likes best into 2.0 to 2.5″ five-shot groups at 25 yards. It also has mild recoil with 124-grain 9mm +P and even 127-grain +P+ ammo at a velocity very close to full power .357 Magnum out of a similar-size revolver with 2″ barrel.

It also has something most Auto pistols don’t: “stand-off capability.” By this, I mean most Autos, if pressed against the body of a homicidal assailant, will go out of battery and fail to fire. This one won’t.

The CSX’s one downside is as the trigger returns forward between shots the finger can feel a tiny “tick” of the passive firing pin safety being cleared and fool the shooter into thinking it’s forward enough to fire, which it isn’t. Shooters who prefer to “ride the link” hate this, and in fact, the CSX ain’t for them, in my opinion. But if they let the trigger come forward until it stops, as I do with mine, no problemo!

What we’re dealing with here is the need to explain the given firearm’s workings, pros and cons, to the customer. The same is true with many other designs. Let’s look at a few.

Other Examples

Allow me to step away from personal-defense guns and go to deer rifles for a moment. Lever-action rifles are resurging in popularity, and the many recently introduced (or re-introduced)stand as proof. 

I’ve heard customers in gun shops say they love the idea of the lever action, except they fear the “click” of the hammer being cocked will spook a deer before they can shoot. All the salesman has to show them is if they keep the muzzle in a safe direction they can start the hammer back, then hold the trigger back and when the hammer is all the way to the rear, release the trigger and the gun will be cocked in absolute silence.

The principle of “unrecognized gem” features can even apply to accessories. Consider the white light or light/laser options on a pistol with an accessory rail. Of course, you’ll warn the customer searching for a “bump in the night” with the beam from the light attached to the pistol carries the danger of pointing a loaded gun at everything he looks at. 

You might also want to remind him or her of that “stand-off effect” if a muzzle contact shot is needed to stop an attacker who is right on top of them. 

If the light projects forward of the gun muzzle, the stand-off effect will indeed take place and the autoloader will be able to fire every shot, just like a revolver in the same situation. It is absolutely amazing how many gun-buyers — and indeed, even professionals within our industry — fail to recognize this potentially lifesaving factor and don’t point it out to the customers.

“Hidden gems.” Unnoticed features and capabilities by both buyer and seller of the lifesaving emergency rescue equipment, a description that absolutely defines the defensive firearm.

Talk it over with your sales counter staff. This sort of thing isn’t just about making a sale.

It can be about saving the customer’s life.

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