Friday, November 26, 2010

Friend or Foe?; Sales People



With just a tinge of cranberry sauce crusted on the side of my bottom lip, I lounged across the center of my buddy's couch watching friends gyrate their less swollen bellies to the beats on Just Dance 2 for Nintendo Wii and thought about how excited I was that tomorrow was Black Friday!... not.

"There's dessert, right?!"

Without the need for a forklift (yet) I managed to lift myself up off the couch to the counter for some residual Thanksgiving goodness before hitting the pumpkin pie that beckoned from beyond the refrigerator. And whipped cream. And apple pie... with whipped cream.

"ooooh, I didn't know there was some ham left!"

Before the opportunity to plop down once more, I overheard someone talk about what time they would be getting up early in the morning to avoid the crowds at Best Buy. Pfft! Like I'm going to wake up tomorrow at any reasonable hour! Most of the time, the day after Thanksgiving is an opportunity to increase consumerism with the promise of "great deals" and "once a year opportunities", but really it's more hassle than you could possibly imagine. I don't care how much I'm saving, if it isn't enjoyable, why go shopping at all?

Just think, if you're a sales associate at a department store and your average workload is increased 5-fold, how much more pleasant are you going to be when you're almost guaranteed the sale anyway?

Every other day of the year, in cosmetics particularly, sales are driven by commissions and numbers that are reported to the managing department of whatever firm owns your brand. Companies like MAC, Origins, and Bobbi Brown report to Estee Lauder Corp and others like MakeupForever, Sephora and Guerlain report to LVMH. The people behind the counter have nothing in mind but to keep their jobs and that hinges on how successful a salesman they can be.

Now, whether you are actually leaving with something that you want or will use is entirely different. Their concern is whether or not you buy. And hopefully return to buy more. Anti-aging moisturizer that cost you $100 still in the back of your medicine cabinet unopened? I feel ya.

Generally, key words are used when trying to make a sale. Ambiguous, superlative words that invoke an emotional response (positive I hope) that will make you connect with the product, even if it's briefly, and make you feel as though you NEED it. Rather than just want it. Words like; "fantastic","great", "popular" and "best" are never more descriptive than the feeling they give you. And are probably just as effective once you've torn through the plastic wrapping. Once applied to the skin you'll start to gauge whether or not you've made a wise purchase or a pressured one.

If you break out in a rash or feel an itchy sensation or just plain don't like the texture, buyer's remorse begins to set in. And there's nothing about it that that jar or tube or box that will ever make go away. All because you listened to some gal or guy behind the counter who was trying to make their numbers for the day and said that that product was what Jennifer Lopez wears!

When making a cosmetics purchase at drug stores like CVS or Duane Reade, it helps to know the return policy, which are generally very forgiving. Most of the time testers are not available and you have to guess at what colors and textures may best suit you. Make a mistake in judgment and you've no one to blame but yourself, but the store will probably take it back. Giving you the opportunity to choose wisely the next time.

Department stores like Saks 5th Avenue or Bergdorf Goodman are a bit trickier when their counters come equipped with testers of just about everything they sell and (here it comes) sales people to help you make that decision. The idea being, if you're trying the product out and someone is helping you make that decision, you're less likely to come back with a return. Especially if it means facing the same person who sold it to you...scary.

When approached by a sales rep, it's best to be prepared. If you're on a quest for something in particular, let them know. If you're just looking, let them know. If you have no idea what you want... well, you're basically a mark. Better to be a bit prepared to keep from making a purchase you'll regret later.

Other factors you'd want to keep in mind are things like allergies, sensitivities or just general preferences. Don't like smells? Steer clear of certain brands. Break out in acne easily? Steer clear of certain ingredients, etc... Knowing a bit more about your preferences and being able to communicate them will ensure you the best service. Plus, it makes a salespersons job all that much easier and they're sure to be happier, helpful and much, much more pleasant to share this shopping experience and you're sure to leave with products you'll no doubt love.

But of course, there are days when no amount of preparation will guard you from snippy, catty and rude sales people who care about nothing more than getting your money and getting you out of the store. Yea, days just like Black Friday!

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