The highs and lows of parenting and real estate.

Sales 101: You’re Doing It Wrong

Last weekend at a new build site in the models with a client –

Builder rep: So here’s the master bath. It’s nice, right?

My client: Well… I mean I wish it had a separate tub and shower. The last one we saw did… could I upgrade the bathroom at the design center to make the shower and tub separate?

Builder rep: Where would you put it?

Me: It looks like there’s not the space to do it…

My client: So you’re saying I can’t do that?

Builder rep: Ah, basically, yes.

My client: Why didn’t you just say, ‘You can’t do that, there’s not enough space.”?

Builder rep: Well I didn’t want you to feel like I was telling you you can’t have what you want. I wanted you to figure out why it won’t work for yourself. We’re all about you having what you want here. We’re not like your dad who said you can’t have an ice cream cone when you wanted it.

My client: I don’t know what the hell you’re talking about. But it feels like you’re saying I can’t have what I want so…

Me: We should move on.

And later that day in the specialty tea store at the mall –

Teenage salesgirl: Hi, welcome to our store. Can I help you find something?

Me: Well I don’t really know anything about tea but my husband loves it and I’m looking for something to add to his Father’s Day Gift. Something smallish, probably.

Teenage salesgirl: Oh, well if he loves tea, he would absolutely adore one of these cast iron tea pots. They’re the perfect way to brew tea. They keep the water the perfect temperature.

Me: Uh… I’m not sure. He has a really specific sense of style. These are kind of froufrou looking for his taste…

Teenage salesgirl: No, no, they’re really manly. This one has a dragon on it. It’s super manly.

Me: Definitely not his taste. But these over here are slightly more simple and sleek. They might be ok. How much do they cost?

Teenage salesgirl: $170.

Me: *COUGH* Oh. No, I’m just really looking for something smallish for him right now. But I’ll keep that in mind for Christmas or something.

Teenage salesgirl: OK, well I also have this electronic teapot that does everything to brew your tea exactly right (pulls out a teapot with lots of buttons and levers and demonstrates it’s high-techness).

Me: How much is this one?

Teenage salesgirl: $250.

Me: OK, no. I’m just going to look over here by myself for a minute.

Teenage salesgirl (completely ignoring my not at all subtle plea to be left alone and following me to a wall of tea travel containers): If you’re looking for one of these, you shouldn’t get this one (taking the container I’ve picked up out of my hands). The tea strainer is way too shallow. You should get this one instead (demonstrates its features).

Me: Great. Fine. I’ll take it. In dark grey. I think he’ll love it. (Subtext: get me out of here.)

Teenage salesgirl: Alright, but what about tea? Don’t you want to get him some tea to go with it? I mean what good is a travel tea container without tea? There’s a sampler gift set up here at the front of the store he might like…

Me: No, I don’t want the sampler.

Other teenage salesgirl walking over to join the harassment: What type of tea does he like?

Me: He just bought himself a sampler thing, so I don’t think he needs any more right now… chai? I think he likes chai.

Original teenage salesgirl (grabbing two giant bins of tea from a wall of tea bins, removing the tops and using them to fan the scent in my direction in what I’m sure is a copyrighted tea store motion): Try these. Aren’t they wonderful? We sell them by the ounce in these aluminum canisters. We also have decorative canisters. And if you fill them up you get (sales talk fades out in my head and I just hear ‘Wah wah wah wah’. Walls begin to close in but the door seems so very far away I’m not sure if I’ll ever reach it).

Me: OK, fine. Just give me the smallest amount I can buy and leave the store now. Here’s my card. Please take my card so I can leave.

Teenage salesgirl: So which container? The regular or the decorative?

Me: The regular (I start to say and then my head explodes all over the inside of the tea store. The girl charges my order anyway, forges my signature, shovels my remains into a plastic shopping bag with the tea store logo along with my purchases and sets me out in the walkway of the mall, effectively ensuring I will never enter the tea store again.).

Can we come together as a civilization and agree these ‘sales techniques’ do not work and stop using them? Pretty please with my sanity and your dignity on top?

Yes, I spent $76, but I hope it was worth it because you could not pay me to set foot in your store again.

5 Responses to Sales 101: You’re Doing It Wrong

  1. I think the builder rep could take a page out of the teenager sales reps book!

  2. I was gonna say… I think the teenager was actually pretty effective.

    • It’s possible if she works on commission it was a smart move ONLY FOR HER, because I did spend more money than I was planning and it’s unlikely she’ll personally ever see me again. But for the brand it’s a terrible strategy. It’s much smarter to back off and earn a customer for life. The ‘hard sell’ doesn’t work on huge purchases (cars, houses) and on small ones it creates too much bad blood to be worth it in the long run.

  3. I want this applied to buying cars. I hate going at it alone and no matter what they offer, I feel like I’m being ripped off.

  4. Can I tell you that I have heard this same story (well, close enough) from SO many people?!? I’ll never go into one of their stores because of it.

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