5 Sales Lessons Learned From Prom Dress Shopping With My Daughter

Darren Bayne holding prom dresses

There we were at David’s Bridal looking for prom dresses with our daughter at 10:30am on a Sunday morning.  We got there just as it opened.

Now usually you’d find us at church at that time.  But our daughter, Dana, would be in show choir competitions the next four Saturdays.  And prom is in March.

So it was Dana, Christina (my wife), and me combing through dresses.

Let me correct that.  They were combing through dresses.

My job was holding the dresses they chose for Dana to try on.

That might not seem tough.

Picture this…

I’m standing there doing my best Statue of Liberty impression.  But instead of a torch in my hand, it’s prom dresses on hangers.

Remember that prom dresses are LONG.  No self-respecting dad would simply drape a prom dress over his arm.  I’d feel the wrath from both my wife and my daughter.

Do you know how much fun it is to keep your arm above your head while holding prom dresses?

Right between slim and no fun at all.

But doing this was important to Dana.  She wanted to find her prom dress that day so the process was over and she wouldn’t stress about fitting extra shopping trips into her busy schedule.

So I turned my encouragement meter up to 10 and enjoyed our time together.

And being a salesman at heart, I thought I’d study what goes on inside the store of a major player in the $27 billion wedding market.

It was time to watch and listen…not only to my daughter and wife but also to what was happening with other customers.

Here are the 5 observations I made and the sales lessons I learned while partaking in the prom dress shopping experience…

Observation #1:  Dress shopping requires on-site input from mom, sisters, friends, and (maybe) dad.

Dress shopping is the female equivalent to guys watching sports.  Fewer high-fives but more ‘You look amazing’s.  Running commentary on necklines, hemlines, beading, and bustles.

Everybody gives their critique.

But in our entire time there, I never heard anything negative said about the person in the dress.  Any issues were the dress’s fault.

It was refreshing.

Sales lesson #1:  Every decision maker must be at the table or you will waste everyone’s time.


Observation #2:  The store should be set up to find the right kind of dress.  Wedding dresses on one side of the store.  Prom and bridesmaid dresses on the other.

When you walk in the door, you can see the section of the store you should go to.

The layout made sense.  All the prom dresses were together.

On top of that…prom dresses were grouped by color.  Reds on one rack, blues on another, greens together, etc.

Made it easy to look through gowns that complement your skin tone and stay away from the colors that don’t.

Sales lesson #2:  Set your agenda so everyone knows how the negotiation will flow. 
This ensures every issue gets decided.


Observation #3:  Mirrors, mirrors, everywhere.  Felt like a 90’s boy band video shoot.  

Dana was one of the first ladies to get a fitting room.  I was overwhelmed with the number of mirrors.

Every flat surface had a mirror on it.

I once counted myself 17 times in the reflections.  Kinda felt like was in The Matrix.

But the reason was obvious.

When you are making such an important decision about a prom dress or a wedding dress, you want to see how you look from every possible angle.

Hence, David’s Bridal House of Mirrors.

Sales lesson #3:  Make sure everyone has the same vision. 
If your prospect can “see” themselves in your proposed solution,
you have a great chance.


Observation #4:  Ring the bell when you find THE DRESS.  

Now this part was fun…

When a bride finds THE DRESS, she rings a handheld bell.

Everybody claps.

She sheds tears.

But here’s the thing.  Every bride has a glow about her that is breathtaking.

It’s a combination of “I feel confident”, “I love the way I look”, and “this is really happening”.

And I swear they release dust in the room because my eyes got watery every time I heard that silly bell.

Sales lesson #4:  Celebrate every win, no matter how small.


Observation #5:  Alterations to the dress made on site.  The seamstress lovingly shows how the alterations will fix any minor issues with the dress.  

Once the bell stopped ringing and everybody stopped hugging the bride, she went to the seamstress to make any needed alterations.

That part was behind some curtains…modesty and all that.

You see, the seamstress’ job is to make those final crucial edits to the dress so the bride looks radiant and confident come her wedding day.

Sales lesson #5:  Once a sale is made, the real work begins. 
The “what” doesn’t matter as much as the “how”.


Dana walked into the dressing room with 15 dresses.  (Yes, I counted them)

Now it was actually 2 sizes of 7 dresses and one size of 1 dress.  (Check my math)

Each time she would come out in a dress, bob her head side to side thinking it over, and then we’d talk about what she liked and didn’t like.

Until she walked out in HER DRESS.

No bobbing of the head from side to side.

Her chin went up with the confidence she felt wearing HER DRESS.

The intensity of her smile cranked up about 7 notches.

She found what she was looking for.

Now it was time for shoes and accessories…

After spending two hours and 37 minutes inside David’s Bridal, Dana had HER DRESS on order and her shoes and earrings in her hand.

The dress she tried on had a flaw that the seamstress might not be able to fix.  So we ordered a duplicate that will be in within 2 weeks.

What color is HER DRESS?

She chose the blue one.

And she looks stunning in it.

From a proud dad,

Darren Bayne

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