Salesmen or Customer Service Rep

What’s the difference between being pushy and being helpful?

Last year I went to a used car dealership and looked into getting a car. I really liked the car they showed me, but the tactics used by the men at the dealership were so underhanded and vitriol that it has put me off ever going to a used car dealership again. If I do go to a new car lot I will be so against the dealership that it’s going to be difficult for them to help me even if they are actually there to help me instead of helping line their pockets.

Some of the things they did:

  • Telling me what I needed instead of listening to what I said
  • Assuming I’d buy it even after I said no.
  • Changing their wording to try and get me to do the thing I said no to already
  • Treating me like I was stupid for saying no.
  • Telling me they knew better, or the bank knew better then I did about my finances.
  • Making it physically difficult for me to leave.
  • Asking again and again for that sale to the point of harassment.

It’s unfortunate that I’ve seen some of these tactics bleed into other businesses, though not as bad as that dealership was. But, I do see people “assuming the sale” and pushing for that “no,” often dozens of times.

It’s frustrating, even aggravating. If I were to walk into a store and the employees started assuming I’d buy whatever they handed me I would be inclined to leave. I know my budget, my tastes, my desires. Often I don’t even want a specific thing when I go into a store I just want to see what’s available. Having your employee sit there and give me things to buy doesn’t make me want to buy, it makes me uncomfortable and want to leave.

But I also recognize not every customer is like me. There are others who don’t know what they want. They need more help picking the right outfit, or the right sized couch for their space. I get that. A good “customer service agent” can tell the difference between someone who needs that extra bit of help, and someone who just wants to be left alone to pick their own things. They will ask if they need help. Watch to see if they look confused. Offer little bits of information about products or services. Only if the person wants to engage in conversation will they but in. And if the person is just looking, or doesn’t want to be bothered, then they will let it go.

But it seems that more companies want “salesmen” instead of “customer service agents”. They care less about the customers good experiences and more about the amount of crap they can push off on the general public.

I get it. Your growth business is no longer a growth business. It’s just another stock on the market maintaining it’s shares, and you’re looking to raise capitol to make your stockholders happy. So you’re expanding your sales, pushing more merch, and upping quotas to get bonuses so you give out fewer bonus (thus saving money) and push your employees to get more from the public to try and meet the insane quotas. I GET IT. You have to please the stockholders.

I also understand that as long as we, the public, keep going to your shop, allowing “salesmen” to sell us crap, then you’re going to keep doing it. “It works” you say, all the while annoying some of your customers to the point that they quit shopping with you, and pissing off some of your employees because they didn’t sign up to be aggressive salesmen. But IT WORKS, so you’re going to do it.

I just wonder how long it will take for this salesmen attitude to infiltrate all of our businesses and shops. Till then I will keep looking for the shops that encourage the employees to be friendly, and chatty. Where I get greeted by name, and they already know my favorite drink. Because I’d rather pay extra to get that personal service then pay the lowest common denominator to watch my fellow human beings be turned into pushy salesmen who only care about the bottom dollar.