Are you being served?

I’ve never been much of a go-to-person when it comes to selling merchandise. My only job as a salesperson lasted 3 days, and that was as a Fuller Brush door-to-door seller the summer I graduated from grade 12. After hitting up my family and neighbours, I was done.

However that doesn’t mean I don’t know a thing or two about selling. As a well-seasoned shopper I think I’m quite qualified to discern the difference between good and bad salesmanship.

First of all, I detest the syrupy-voiced sales lady who greets customers at the door with her singsong spiel and then follows them around the store commenting on the merits of each item touched or passed by. I realize that many of these people work on commission, but give me some space and I might consider a purchase. Instead I usually leave rather than run the risk of having an uninvited sales lady follow me into the dressing room.

But equally as bad are the “I don’t really care and don’t bother me” clerks who barely look up when someone enters the store. They seem oblivious to the needs of their customers as they are too busy texting or visiting with other employees. Heaven forbid that they interrupt their activities¬†to tend to potentially paying customers. (These do not work on commission.)

But yesterday my dealing with a sales clerk took an entirely new twist, and I don’t know if I should laugh about it or be insulted. My friend and I were trying on some clothes at a store which shall remain nameless. I tried on a cute little dress with leather accents and was pleased to find it fit perfectly. The sale lady ooh’ed and aah’ed over my appearance. (Yes, it made me feel good.) Then my friend came out in a smart-looking pencil skirt, and again the clerk gushed.

As I waited for my friend to change the sales lady said, “Oh, you gals are so stylish! I need to get my mother-in-law to try more youthful styles because she dresses so frumpy.”

Now normally this sounds like a very nice compliment, except for one thing – I thought by her appearance the clerk was close to us in age, so that would make her mother-in-law quite elderly.

I was tempted to ask,”Just how old do you think I am?” (But that would have run the risk of getting an answer I didn’t want to hear.)

That’s the thing about selling – somewhere between sugar-coating and nonchalance, there’s something known as good judgement. And suggesting that someone is much older than their actual age is never good for business.

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