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Do Aggressive Sales Techniques Help or Hurt the Informed Buyer?
Ever get tired of that salesperson who hovers over you like a vulture? You, my friend, are not alone.
"Hello, what can I help you find today?" asked a salesperson who had somehow located me with sadistic precision.
"Oh, I'm just looking around," I replied with a plastic smile.
My parry left the offender undeterred. I knew better than to find security in her next statement.
"Great! Let me know if you need anything."
Before I could even begin my hunt for clothes, she returned like the ghost of Christmas gone wrong.
"Just in case you were wondering, we just got 30 new shirts in today from Hurley. Are you looking for jeans? Here, these would look great on you."
After numerous times of turning the woman down, she persisted in offering me clothes I showed no interest in. Did it ever once occur to her that if I wanted help I simply would have asked for it? Complete exasperation marked the duration of time I spent clothes shopping that day. Here, at the far reaches of the great shopping mall, we meet an intolerable dilemma: what gives salespeople the right to take the initiative in helping customers who refuse it repeatedly?
Nothing makes me happier than having my mental capacity belittled by a sales predator going in for the kill. The last time the person taking my order offered me the new super volcanic burrito combo before I could order my quesadilla, I nearly wept tears of pure bliss. Thank God they had no interest in what I actually wanted! I might have had to suffer through life never knowing that such a burrito exists. After all, I do have all the time in the world to waste refusing suggestions. I came to a fast food restaurant looking to slow down the pace of my life and have a stimulating conversation through a barely-discernible speaker. Only madmen come to food establishments with an order already in mind, right?
I completely understand that these employees (bless their hearts) behave in such a manner because of the expectations of their bosses. When salespeople do practice sensible restraint in "helping" a customer, the manager angrily insists that they continue a stream of unnecessary and frivolous interaction. These people simply go about their business annoying people to ensure stable employment for themselves. This does nothing to change the fact that I would rather gouge my eyes out with a canoe sometimes than spend time trying in vain to buy things out of my own discretion.
The reason for this dilemma stems from out own failure to demand a higher respect of the customer in the merchant's eyes. Businesses take advantage of our ignorance because they can. American consumers have grown so lazy in making choices or researching products themselves that responsible buyers have to put up with the constant hullabaloo of salespeople flaunting their suggestions.
I rarely go shopping completely ignorant of what I like or intend to buy. The sales tactics employed by our culture, however, have allowed people to meander around and buy everything that gets thrown at them with an enticing pitch. I use my outstanding intellectual capabilities to determine whether or not I want chocolate or vanilla ice cream, but, sadly, some people need others to choose for them. Unfortunately, the deaf-salesman approach actually works quite well. Unsuspecting consumers come home with completely different items in greater quantities than they set out for just because they were repeatedly harassed against their will to do so. Lazy and unprepared shoppers find wondrous accommodations in the market today, while the rest of us search in vain for a self-sufficiency sanctuary.
Undoubtedly, situations arise in which we do require the assistance of a learned employee. Consider the expert salesperson in his or her field. One may find wisdom in consulting someone who knows more about a product than they do to begin with. I wholeheartedly agree that in some cases the smarter purchase comes from following the sound advice of an educated vendor. When I go to the cigar shop, I ask for recommendations from a more experienced smoker. When I have a question about the drumheads I want at Guitar Center, I simply ask for an opinion. I hold the freedom to discard their suggestion or try it out and see if my faith in them proved worthwhile.
Two reactions to aggressive sales tactics inhabit the market. Many people feel guilty about ignoring the salesperson and fold under the pressure. They give in to the puppy-dog face and pat the vendor on the head by buying more stuff. People like me just run away. We fear the salesperson. The relentless nagging of their voice drives us insane until we have to get out. Why does such a silly thing bother us? We simply know what we want. It bothers us to have someone trying to change our mind when we have clearly set our values and standards in place already. Offensive sales tactics were created to break down the weak-minded.
The solution to this problem stands in closer proximity than many would think. Have the salesperson stand in the middle of the room. When the customer has a problem, they simply walk up to their dedicated employee and ask for assistance. When the customer has what they need, the merchant should return to their post and resume a silent vigil. This way, the customers would find the dignity of a human being they deserve.
In this world of stoic acceptance and indecision, I hope that we can find our own voice in the market and assert it. If salespeople run into enough stubborn customers, they will get our message. The next time someone offers me a gordita before I can order my cinnamon twists, I may just go crazy.