It happened today, but it wasn’t the first time I took note- or the last time.
I was in a clothing store about to buy something. Had narrowed it down to the right color, was just looking for the size that fits. As I finally found the right size for my beloved, a sales clerk interrupted me: “We have more over here.”
“We have other sizes, colors. Are you buying for yourself, or a girl, what sizes you need? How are you feeling, where are you from?” I had what I had wanted in hand. I was given more options, and a series of haranguing questions was asked of me. I finally said, “hey, this isn’t working for me,” and I pulled up stakes and left.
When I did, he barked out a willingness to come down in price, and make me a special deal.
This happens in regular retail stores, too. I was looking at USB Headset microphones in Best Buy. I was approached by a clerk as I was reading the packaging and thinking about pricing.
“What are you looking for?”
“A USB headset mic.”
“Oh, great,” and she took the 3 choices off the shelves and put them in my hands. Sorting 3 different brands (with different features) by price, she said “This is our basic, this is our middle, and this is our top of the line…which do you feel you would like.”
I looked at them, one by Microsoft, one by Dynex and a third by Plantronics, I think. One was basic, one was wireless, and the other was setup for phones, too. None of them were similar.
I put them back, and said thanks, and left. She didn’t know the products, she just put things in my hands. I was leaning towards the wirless USB mic, but I was concerned it might be flaky with Skype on my Mac. She said “oh, these aren’t mac compatible.” A cursory Google search revealed it was. I thanked her for her time, reshelved the microphones and left.
It’s frustrating because we want human beings involved in the sales process. So often, they interrupt us, make it worse. They short circuit their own selling ability. Perhaps, in many cases, that behavior actually increases sales. Walking you to the product you want might have been tested, but it creates social obligations that feel, to me, to be unpleasant.
What might be better is “Hey, I’m here if you need anything.”
I don’t know, really.