Pushing Product vs Providing Service

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I used to sell electronics for a chain store, one that actually still exists, but had long standing trouble with where its identity was taking it at the time I was working there. I was hired as a seasonal worker and assigned to an inner city store because the hiring manager I interviewed with thought my maturity from my past work experience would help balance out the new manager they assigned to the store. The store was failing, but the new manager had proven an ability to move a lot of product, so they were giving him a shot.

The workers were on salary, but received commission bonuses on the dollar value of sales, accessories and service warranties added on to purchases, and various specific items.

It wasn’t long until I figured out what the young manager did to make his numbers look great. He targeted a high bonus product–cell phones–and sold a lot of free upgrade phones. Obviously, as a sales person, it’s not your job to worry if a customer can afford the new plan that was bundled with the upgraded free phone, but as the supposed customer server oriented sales people we were told to portray ourselves as, it should have mattered if the upgrade was needed, and if the new phone was worth it. And since we were a failing store that would get the minimum amount of good merchandise since the store could never really prove its worth, the phones we had available really weren’t worth it.

This same manager taped cables and batteries to our Christmas door buster items that came with cables and batteries, ringing them up as they came to the register to boost our accessory count for the day, then shifted the category numbers from the returns of the unneeded accessories to other sales clerks.

So the store was pretty well known across the city as a cell phone turn around location, with no other products on hand worth selling to repeat customers whom we had gained trust. Oh, and they called us for help setting up electronics they had purchased elsewhere.

The hiring manager who interviewed me was from another region, and was just there to help out the seasonal hiring for the city. A little research into his region found that the antics we pulled wouldn’t fly in his territory. My actual regional manager, who I didn’t meet until after I was kept on staff after the holidays were over, didn’t care what we did as long as we kept the cheap cell phones flowing, and only got rid of the young manager after an inventory showed that he was awful at keeping up paperwork. He was reassigned to a new store where he could use his learned tricks on new customers as just a regular salesman, and continued to do just fine.

A new manager was assigned to my store that brought in some truly old school salesmen. While they didn’t operate on as many questionable practices as the young manager did, you would have been amazed at what a veteran sales guy would do you keep up his numbers. I was let go fairly soon after the new manager came in.

I will tell anyone who will listen that I am a horrible salesperson because I don’t know how to effectively close a deal. But I make up for my lack of working up a proper transfer of money for goods and services by creating quality goods and providing over the top service. That was what was hoped would have rubbed off on the young manager. Only in an environment where hard, fast dollars what the only thing getting our regional manager’s attention, ‘the right way’ to do business didn’t stand a chance.

Maybe now that the light is starting to shine on the business tactics of our failing financial services and banks, a new emphasis will be placed on business getting done right.

Maybe you will put a new emphasis on your employees doing the right things for the right reasons, not just getting the job done as quickly and cheaply as possible to inflate profit numbers.


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