Thursday, 6 March 2014

Selling Spree...

I love shopping! After a hectic week, nothing would be more exciting than going on an unplanned shopping spree. The pleasure of entering any haven for shoppers and relish the beauty of the products at display is just inexplicable. Yes, I love shopping, but it’s not an obsessive compulsive disorder. As a practical buyer, I like to take my own time in assessing something I would like to buy. I like my comfortable personal space and form personal opinions about products. I’m also one of those buyers who know what they want to buy before entering a retail mall. I like to take my own decisions in peace.

Lately this wonderful experience of shopping has been turned into an absolute nightmare. I dread shopping because I don’t like to be treated like a Queen, followed and surrounded by a hundred aggressively helpful sales assistants, soliciting me to every counter I even glance at, even those I don’t wish to stop at. Above all, I do not like to be monitored constantly.

I avoid walking up to the displays of handbags, jewellery, accessories or shoes just to evade the possibility of uttering, “I’m just looking,” to an over-enthusiastic “Yes Ma’am?” when my mind inaudibly screeches, “Why don’t you leave me alone. I may not be here to buy, but by doing this you are banishing even the possibility of my considering buying anything at all.” It is annoying, when I spot something attractive and walk towards it, a salesperson from the other corner of the counter charges towards me and plants himself at an awkward proximity, watching my every move, incessantly reciting prices, offers and discounts, ruining my one chance of buying it. As for me, I’d either persist, avoiding all eye contact and communication or simply walk away.

The entire affair is so stressful and intimidating for buyers. They feel like prey, trapped in an unwanted situation and may just end up buying something they don’t even know they need, in a rush or simply to get rid of the pesky salespeople.

Casual conversations in my friend circle revealed that most of them have had similar experiences and would like to be left in peace while making up their mind about buying something or not buying it at all. Countless other people around the globe must have felt this more than once during shopping.

I don’t despise salespeople for simply doing their job. All I’m doing is fighting that feeling of discomfort arising when someone is constantly watching your every step. I’m fighting the interruption in my though process which answers questions like needed or not, worth it or not, buying or not.

Salespeople however, are just doing what they are expected to do: sell. The rising consumerism, soaring sales targets, mounting profit, growing revenue, more commissions etc. are the reasons for their aggressiveness to sell. On the other hand, such tactics are short-lived. They fail to make a loyal and returning customer base. Customer satisfaction is paramount after a purchase is made. Buyers would not return if they feel cheated, intimated or pressurized into buying. Today, when most businesses are striving to have a loyal customer base, such behaviour and sales strategies should be strongly discouraged.

The point is, that sales does not only have practical selling strategies to itself. It is not a set of theories that can be applied to one and all. Sales deals with people, each one unique in thinking and behaviour. The catch lies in knowing who is there to buy and who is there to just window shop and accordingly apply customer centric selling tactics. It is essential to know one's limit while making a sales call. A memorable and comfortable buying experience is invaluable for first-time buyers, hence, an understanding of human nature and subtle body language cues is very important. While training a sales force, it is vital to educate them about the psychosocial aspects in dealing with customers. An over-zealous salesperson, is just as capable of driving customers away if she/he does not understand when to intervene and when to let go. 

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