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.

Sales and Confidence

When I first started publishing I was a little worried. Worried no one would like it, worried I would make a bad name for myself, worried I’d never sale one… etc. etc.

But it’s actually going better then I thought it would. Sure, I’ve only had 22 sales, and 48 freebies… but that’s 60+ people that read my book.

What’s even better, I have only 4 and 5 star reviews. That makes me think I’m on the right track, even if it is a slow track.

sms2mall

On that note… I’ll be putting out Small Bites 2 next week. Now that I have some momentum I want to keep that going. I am working on several projects at once so that I will (hopefully) be able to publish something new every Friday for a while.

Books will come out as 99 cents for the first weekend, and then go up, except the Small Bites series. They will stay 99 cents as they are really short.

Then, once all the Small Bites are out, I will stick them up as one set for 2.99 (which gets you one book for free). And I will also be working to put out a big book of all my short stories eventually. No idea what I will price it at yet.

But for right now… Small Bites 2, and we’ll worry about everything else later.

What’s in a Sale Price (An open letter to Johnny B Truant)

In today’s Self Publishing Podcast Johnny B Truant said:

“A book is F*ing $3. As an artist I have a little bit of a problem with the idea that people would balk at that.”

I’ve been having a similar discussion with people regarding games. Specifically the idea that game makers, like Sony, want to curtail second hand game sales, like Gamestop, as they feel that used games are lost revenue.

Here the crux of the matter…. Even if you managed to stop every free/sale/used transaction for every single item in the entire world, producers of content still won’t make more money, for one really simple fact: we can’t all afford new.

Yes, you’re an artist. Your product is worth money. I get it, I’m a writer too. I want to earn a living off my writing as well. However, you are looking at it from the perspective of “this is my stuff, you’re getting my stuff, and you should pay me what I think it’s worth.”

Game developers also have the added incite of “this is how much it cost us to make this game, and this is how many we think we can sell this month.” So they slap a tag for $60 on it, and release it. They are absolutely right that the game is worth, from their perspective, $60 dollars.

Now, lets look at it from my perspective.

I’m a single mom of three. I love books and games. I am teaching my three children to also love books and games. I make less then $2k a month, and my bills alone suck up most of that money.

$60 is one bill. Or a car full of groceries  Or two pairs of shoes. Or two tanks of gas to get to work. Or three nice dates with my wonderful boyfriend.

So I wait till games are on sale, (got to love Steam!) or I wait till the price comes down. Two, three years after a AAA title has come out and grossed the company millions of dollars it might be available for $20 from the company. Maybe. If I’m lucky. Or I can hit a used bin and possibly find it for a little less. It still won’t be that cheap, but maybe I can finally play it.

It’s the same with books, only most of the time I have to go to the library. Sometimes, if i really love a book, or an author, I will splurge and buy their book. Maybe give it to a friend, or sell it back to Half Priced Books, more then likely just keep it on my shelf. Keep in mind I read about 50+ books a year. I can’t afford to buy all of those even if they are only $3.

Yes, you as an artist deserve to be paid for your work. I, as an upcoming author, deserve to be paid for my work. But not everyone is in the same place that you are. Not all of us are able to go out and buy every book/game we want.

I currently own over 23 of David Write and Sean Platts books. I got a lot of them for free, and then I started buying them. I joined Seans list and got this nifty little email saying “Thanks for joining, I’d like to give you a free book.” I turned it down because I already had so many of their books. I also own several Johnny B Truant books, and I bought most of them, but I did get several for free.

I try to repay in my way by giving reviews, and sharing the podcast with other writers, and by buying a few now and then when I have some extra money. But I keep a look out for sale prices of my favorite authors.

Steam is actually an incredible example of what sale prices can do. Summer sales, and winter sales on Steam can lower game prices up to as much as 75% off games, sometimes more. And what happened? Well I bought 80+ games this year. I know I’m not the only one. Steam sales more games during these sales, and they make more for the people selling games through them then any other time of the year.

When you lower the price a lot more people see it, and buy it. You make up for lower prices through volume.

Now, Steam has an amazing platform, they have sales specifically a few times a year, and a few games on sale each day. They can afford to do this, and they do it well. While books are a bit different  you shouldn’t discount the power of “free” through KDP.

TL;DR Remember that your buyers are made up of different kinds of people. We can’t all afford things at the higher prices, so giving us intensives (sales and freebies) will get us interested, and may get you future sales, reviews, and rating to drive future business. It’s about making a brand, not just making a buck.