Yesterday I was accosted in Tesco’s by a salesman demanding: “Do you wear makeup?” Well, durr, it’s blooming obvious I do, at my age. What he meant was “Can I sell you some makeup?”
“Is it free?” I asked before he could say anything else.
He dodged the question, brandishing a makeup brush loaded with shiny powder which he dabbed onto my hand, insisting that it would highlight my cheekbones and make me look several years younger and healthier.
“But is it free?” I repeated.
Again, he dodged the question.
“OK, then, how much?”
“£35.” Reluctantly. “And you get a free bag of goodies with it.”
“I don’t have £35.”
“You can pay by card!”
As if this meant that this amazing makeup brush was, somehow, free.
What I objected to most was that, firstly, this was a young man, probably not much older than my 20-year old son. The closest my son has ever come to wearing makeup is in the school play. So what on earth could this 20-something man tell me – a woman old enough to be his mother – about makeup?
Secondly, this guy was far, far, far too in-your-face hard-sell. As a copywriter who has written sales copy for the past 25 years, I loathe this kind of selling. And, from experience, it doesn’t work as well as building empathy and rapport with the customer.
If in-your-face hard sales does bully someone into making a purchase then the chances are they won’t return. And everyone knows that it costs five times more to get a new customer than to keep an existing one from a loyal customer base.
Thirdly, this guy had appalling BO. So much so that I kept backing away from him. It was horrible. All of which added to the negative impression.
If it were me, I’d have hired a woman to do this job. An older woman, who you immediately assume has more experience. And someone who comes across as friendly and ‘soft-sell’ in her approach. Even better, someone who is so passionate and knowledgeable about the product that you could be talking to the business owner. And most definitely not someone who has obviously learned some sales patter off by heart. Oh, and I probably wouldn’t have chosen a busy supermarket for my promotion.
But, whichever way, it goes to show that you should pick your sales people carefully. And also pay attention to the way they promote your product or service.
I, personally, prefer to do business with people I like and who come across as genuine. And I imagine I’m not the only one.
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