Posted by: Nathan | August 16, 2006

Service Does NOT Equal Sales

If there’s one thing I hate (and there is), it’s being pushed into buying something at a store that I don’t want and didn’t ask for. “Would you like a credit card today? You can save 10 percent!” “Care to Supersize, Kingsize, Upsize, or Aggrandize your meal today?” “With those pants you can get two pairs of socks for the price of one!” “Would you like to get a savings account today? You can earn more money with your money!”

Unfortunately, that last saying is from me. ‘S’right, kids; I push products on people too. Why? Same reason everyone else does it: we have to. The company I work for who shall remain nameless constantly browbeats its employees to coerce customers into getting products they may or may not need. It’s an evil process. First, we are forced to “commit” to a number of sales for a given week. Then, we have a weekly meeting wherein we go over last week’s commitments versus how much was sold (there’s usually a sales shortage). Then, if we didn’t meet our goal, we’re asked, “Why didn’t you meet your commitment?” [Because I’m not a soul-less, product pusher!] “What can you do to meet your goal this time?” [Stop caring about the customer and/or get a baseball bat].

The reason why my bank does this is because the company gets a lot more money that way. Oh, whoops again! I mean, we do it because we care about our customers and want them to know about all the excellent services we have available for them! So, we have a little motto that’s written into every training manual and is frequently repeated by myriads of managers: “Service equals sales!”

What a load of crap! Everyday millions of employees around the country are receiving guilt trips and worse because we look out for the customers rather than blatantly ignoring their needs and concerns and trying to fool them…err…convince them that they need a given product. Of course, we won’t unite and rise up, but at least management could call off the dogs a little bit here.

The real solution is for customers to start saying no, get offended and not come back. Pressure sales will be with us as long as it works. So, next time some idiot (like me) “recommends” something stupid that you don’t want, turn ’em down flat (but be polite–it’s not squi’s fault squi has to ask) and complain to a manager. Maybe that’ll send a message. Failing that, vote with your feet and don’t come back if you can. “Impractical” or “Not worth it” you say? You’re probably right, but you’d better get used to strangers telling you to buy more stuff than you want.

Sales: it’s Satan incarnate. Small wonder Willy Loman commits suicide.*

*Or is his death an accident? Arthur Miller left that open on purpose…


  1. GREAT POST! I couldn’t have dreamed of saying what needed to be said as well as you did. I could relate completely (as an employee and a customer). The way these sales driven companies pretend, not just to the customers but to the employees, that what they’re doing is for the customer’s own good…well, it’s insane.

    Major kudos for a great read.

  2. I agree wholeheartedly! Such sales tactics prey off people who don’t like saying no and don’t think well on their feet – take me for example. I agreed to sign up for Wells Fargo checkcard rewards program for twelve dollars a year. I had called WF to let them know E and I were leaving the country, and I was asked if I wanted to have checkcard rewards. What was my thought-process? Thought 1: It’s only twelve dollars a year… Thought 2: We do use our card a lot… Thought 3: We can always cancel next year if we waste our money… And that’s it. Basically, we have rewards because the worst we could do is lose twelve dollars. But that’s a terrible reason, and I never would have signed up for it if the advertisement had been on the Wells Fargo website instead of presented via the telephone by an employee. So Nathan, look out for folks like me – we need protection!

  3. Ouch…this is a tough message to swallow when you’re working in the sales and marketing industry yourself…

    In the end, though, you’re right — corporations will continue to pester their clientele until the folks no longer respond. And those folks who respond usually wish they would rather not have. And the ridiculous cycle continues!

    Do you know what the most pitiful realization of this endless cycle is in my life? The fact that I now welcome telemarketers’ calls into my household and have great sympathy for them because I comprise the fuel for our telemarketing campaigns at my company, and I want for the organizations I work with to be successful in their calling programs–because it also means success for me.

    Nathan, know that if you called my house for a sales pitch, you would be well listened to by me. I wouldn’t buy anything to be sure, but I would still listen with great sympathy. 😉

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