Other Voices: Getting inside the head of a salesman | TheUnion.com

Other Voices: Getting inside the head of a salesman

Sales people are currently in our area, going door to door, selling national brand vacuum cleaners. Be wary of their sales pitch and how much it will cost to buy their product. Ask yourself if you really need or can afford the product they are selling.

Recently, an elderly client of mine allowed three door-to-door salesmen into her home, because they seemed nice. Their approach was simple: be friendly and keep smiling. Their sales pitch was similar to the following scenario:

Get into the home by asking: “Mind if I take a quick look?” Once inside, gain trust by finding common ground. Look at pictures and ask questions. Form a friendship with smiles, eye contact and using their target’s name during the conversation.

Make the pitch once trust has been established. Ask questions with obvious answers, such as: “Would you use a refrigerator if it only kept half your food cold?” or, “Would you use a lawn mower if it only cut half your grass?” Get their attention by demonstrating the effectiveness of the vacuum cleaner, including showing them the dirty filters collected during the vacuum demonstration.

Grab their attention by asking, “What do you believe is the dirtiest place in the home that never gets clean?” Go to the closest mattress and explain that dust mites need three things: darkness, warmth and moisture, then say “They have all three in your bed!” Demonstrate how the vacuum cleaner can rid their mattress and bed of dust mites, then show them the dirty filters from vacuuming their bed.

Continue the sales pitch by asking questions such as: “If we average the cost of the vacuum cleaner over 30 years at about 15 cents a day, it’s absurd for us not to have one, isn’t it?” and “Buying the best, like this vacuum cleaner, can often mean great savings to us over the years, can’t it (use their target’s name here)?” Keep in mind you will sell more vacuum cleaners if the target is alone, so don’t give them an opportunity to have anyone else present.

Some targets appear stubborn and don’t want to make quick decisions. The key to closing the sale is getting them to admit, in certain circumstances, they would make a quick decision. At this point, show them how much money they will save if they purchase the vacuum cleaner now. Offer them a deal only good for today. “This vacuum cleaner will only cost you $1,500, with all the attachments, if you purchase it now. The regular cost is $1,899. If you purchase it now we will give you discounts worth $399, including a $100 senior discount.” With that always present smile, excitedly ask “What are you going to do with the $399 you will save?”

How do I know this is their sales pitch? One of the salesmen left behind his notebook, included written literature and notes on how to get into homes, how to gain trust, how to demonstrate the product, how to make the sales pitch and how to close the sale.

The literature included the interest charged when using the installment plan to purchase one of their vacuum cleaners. The “today only” sales price of $1,500, will cost $1,665.96 when using the six payments over eight months plan, with an interest rate of 23.48 percent per annum. The same sales price of $1,500 will cost $2,183.76 when using the 36 payments over 38 months plan, with an interest rate of 23.48 percent per annum. That’s a lot of money to spend on a vacuum cleaner, particularly for an elderly person with limited finances who can’t lift or push anything weighing more than five to 10 pounds.

My concern is unscrupulous sales persons might try to take advantage of our senior citizens and other vulnerable members of our community.


Nanci G. Clinch is a Nevada City attorney.

See Clinch’s column about combating sales techniques here: https://www.theunion.com/apps/pbcs.dll/artikkel?NoCache=1&Dato=20070609&Kategori=OPINION&Lopenr=106090132&Ref=AR

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