Certainly memorable salesmanship
Friday 26 November 2010, 9.28am HKT
Irritating salespeople still gets my business despite high-pressure tactics.
It would have been hilarious if it weren’t for the insulting attitude of the two middle-aged guys doing their sales sing-song on me.
The younger, taller of the pair was the more irritating, which in itself is saying quite a lot about salesmanship in
this toilet bowl Hong Kong.
I was getting new glasses (spectacles) done yesterday evening. My eyes ain’t what they used to be. Too many overnight shifts over too many years have seen to that. I got accosted midway to my regular optician. Thought it might be a good idea to look around. Then — ka-BOOM! — I was in the middle of a contract-signing ceremony. Too late. Just negotiate for a bearable price.
These two unfunny guys were doing a veritable Chinese version of the Laurel and Hardy vaudeville comic act, prancing about and continually switching their lines with an unabashedly agree-with-the-customer-at-all-costs routine. I deal with bankers and wankers, lawyers and liars, accountants and servile civil servants all the time, so there’s no reason not to make the best out of a bad situation.
I kept moving the goalpost around for these two. Actually, thinking back, it was so funny.
They say one thing, I say something opposite — they say another thing back just to agree or please me almost to the point of hysteria. You just had to be there to see the hilarity.
Bottom line, they still managed to scrounge a couple of hundred dollars off of me on ordering the new spex. Doesn’t affect the way I see these two and, broadly speaking, salespeople and their ostensible sales technique in this town.
Truth is, the job of retail sales is diametrically, painfully and plaintively at odds with the basic mentality of most Chinese people. If we’re talking about the normal, everyday game of flogging something to customers, I’d have to say the Japanese and Americans are masters of over-the-counter selling (in that order). If it’s luxury goods, we’re really talking about the Italians, French and the English (in that order). It’s a paradox that Chinese often do so well in trade and commerce.
Hong Kong used to be phenomenally good in this selling game. Not anymore — not in the last 10 years, for sure — and that’s what counts. Back then, salespeople (at least in this town of ours) were polite, genuinely helpful and know when to get down to brass tacks. Today, they’re a bunch of sodding, cheeky little bastards who wants to sell the ‘sizzle’ without the steak. They’re low on cheek and high on the fresh, if you know what I mean. You’re doin’ it wrong, sport. Can’t make real bread that way.
Think I’ll go back to my usual optician after this episode. Oldie smoldie has done a creditable job for a reasonable price — without the aggro thrown in. I can do without the ‘entertainment value’ as well. Life is too short for entertainment disguised as aggro.
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This post is powered by insanity and frustration.
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