Persuasive sales people

Some examples of manipulative situations with sales people.

Abusing social forms

One night, someone rang at my door, and politely asked whether he could ask me something. This social form is common in the Netherlands, and expresses respect while approaching someone. Sensing that this person wanted to sell me something, I said that it depended what the question was about. So he gave me an indication of what he wanted to sell, which had to do with some lottery. I told him I was not interested, and considered this my final answer to his question of whether he could ask me something.

As I proceeded to close my door, he started arguing that everybody likes to win things in a lottery. I, on the other hand, felt I had been clear that the conversation was over, and I saw no reason to change my mind about it. While I went on closing the door, slowly, so as not to appear aggressive, he kept talking. He, in fact, kept talking until after I had closed the door. He then yelled something about my lack of decency, and had no choice but to leave.

Of course, this person was not respectful towards me, despite his initial expression of respect. He was trying to manipulate me into listening to what he wanted to say. He probably would have proceeded not giving me the option not to sign up, if I had wanted to be polite at all cost. He was, in fact, abusing unspoken rules of politeness in order to get me to do what he wanted. Then he blamed me for his own disrespect.

Aggressive sales at your door

When I accidently read in a regional newspaper that they were going to have people go door to door, and aggressively promote the paper, I considered myself forewarned. Particularly the mentioning of "aggresiveness," that to marketeers seems like a positive value, got me annoyed. After all, aggression in marketing means "pushy and disrespectful." Of course, niceness is used to hide the disrespectful edge, but that, in fact, doesn't make it any less disrespectful.

So, one night a tall, strong looking man stood at my doorstep, and he had some kind of list with questions. He said he was there for the newspaper, and in a commanding voice he proceeded to ask me questions, like whether I had read the newspaper previously. Now I had no interest in the newspaper, and I had no interest in answering his questions. If he was respecting me, he would have asked whether I was willing to answer his questions, or whether I had at all an interest in the newspaper. So I answered the questions he should have asked first, and on every one of his questions said that I was not interested. After 3 or 4 of his questions, he got the point. He left.

A free gift

At a supermarket, I was offered a free gift, wrapped in paper, so that I couldn't see what it was. I thought, there is no such thing as a free lunch, so I asked what this gift was. The sales person told me that it was a nice, fun, great little thing. Who could say no to that? I said that I wasn't interested, and walked away. She looked at me in astonishment.

Ending the conversation

Sales people contacting you usually try to lead the conversation, steering it in the direction they want, which is giving you the feeling that you need to buy something from them. Of course, they're only in a position to lead because you let them.

To avoid their manipulation of you, it is a good idea to take the lead yourself. You can do that at the start of the conversation by asking them directly for the goal of their approach of you. If you then decide you're not interested, you can tell them, and the conversation should be over. If the sales person is not giving up yet, it may be necessary to not go into their further questions that are designed to trick you into following their lead anyway, and repeat that you're not interested.

Remember that sales people are, in fact, approaching you in an aggressive way. They may be trying to appear respectful of you with their friendliness, they really aren't. Stopping them from manipulating you may take some counter aggression from you. That aggression need not be hostile or abusive. Taking the lead and asserting yourself will do.

It is not that sales people have a right to tell you about their product. They don't have a right to convince you to buy from them.

What about the sales person?

What is this manipulative and disrespectful approach of people doing to the sales person?

He is not being himself, as he is faking feelings. He doesn't care about you, but only about your wallet, so the kindness is fake. Manipulating your desires, he isn't treating you like a human being.

A person learning to act in such ways is unlearning to be a sensitive human being. He is unlearning to be himself, by being fake. He is unlearning to feel.

Now to be happy, you need to be yourself. If you're not yourself, anything looking like happyness is just something on the surface. So a person who makes it his job to manipulate people, is making it only harder for himself to be happy. That's pretty sad, actually.