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How to Handle Salesmen

Updated on April 18, 2013
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Rebecca Graf is a seasoned writer with nearly a decade of experience and degrees in accounting, history, and creative writing.


The truth is that I hate salesmen. They drive me crazy, and there are too many that are not smart and are too foolish. Telling me what I want and pushing me to spend more than I can afford, really sends me over the edge. Have I said that I hate salesmen.

The irony of this is that I'm married to a salesman.

Now, why do I really hate salesmen? Most that I have dealt with have tried to push products, have treated me like a dumb woman, and just don't listen. But there are ways to handle them.

The Job of a Salesman

Now, we can't criticize too much what the salesman is doing. His job is to sell his products. He doesn't make money if he doesn't sell you that computer or car. If he doesn't sell the products, he doesn't pay his rent or put food on his table. That is important. We all know how that feels.

Now, that being said.....

The salesman's job is also to sell you want you need and what you are looking for. He is not supposed to push the highest priced item just to sell it. His job is to assist you in leaving happy and satisfied. I can't stand a car salesman that tries to direct me to more expensive cars. I know what I can afford and what is out of my price range. The salesman doesn't do his job then because he just lost me as a customer as I am now unsatisfied. He is to make me happy and put me in a position where I want to come back to him again in the future. Making me unhappy will not accomplish that.

The job of the salesman is to sell but also develop loyal customers who will return and buy more later down the road.

What Are Your Needs

Before you go shopping for a car, an appliance, a computer, or furniture, know what you need. What are you looking for? Do you need a particular size, capability, or unique characteristics?That includes knowing what you can afford. Know all of this going in.Why? Because if you don't, you'll find yourself agreeing to purchasing items that do not fit the bill and you will not be satisfied.

Let's say I need a new washer and dryer.

  • I know if I can pay cash or if I need to apply for a credit card at the store. That can make a big difference. If I pay cash, how much am I going to spend? What is my maximum I will be satisfied with spending?
  • I know that I have a large family and need ones that can take large loads. To get one that doesn't will make me unhappy and have me regretting my purchase decision.
  • I know I want energy efficient.
  • I would like to have front load.
  • I would like to have ones that do the job fast.
  • It would be nice to have them in stainless steel.

See how I know what I have to have, what I would like to have, and what would be nice. I know ahead of time what I cannot budge on. I know where to stand my ground. Know that before you go shopping. This helps the good salesman direct you to the right products. Why show me a washer that only takes small loads if I only want to buy the ones that take large loads? I've just helped the salesman choose products.

Knowing ahead of time what you are looking for protects you and helps the salesman do his job right.

Are You Heavily Influenced by the Salesman

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Interacting with the Salesman

You know what you are looking for. Now, you go to the store and deal with the salesman. I hate this part, but if you are prepared you'll be able to interact with the salesman in a manner that benefits you both.

How you interact with the salesman determines a lot on how well your relationship with him for this particular sale and any future ones you might have with him.

  • What do you say when he first approaches you? Answers could be "I'm just looking", "I am looking for a new computer for my college bound son", or "I have no idea what I'm looking for." Give the salesman an idea of what area of the store he can direct you to or take you to. It will also help him know what questions to ask you in order to serve you better.
  • Does the salesman respect your comments? When you tell him what you are looking for or what you don't like, does he take those words into account or basically tell you that you have do idea what you are talking about? If he doesn't listen and respect your comments, walk out. If he does, continue shopping. You need a salesman that listens to you.
  • How does the salesman act when you explain what you are looking for? Does he take you to the most expensive models? Direct him back where you want to me. If he ignores you, walk out. Again, he has to listen to you. You are the one spending the money and using the product.
  • Does he let you think about it without him being present? Does he respect you? A good salesman doesn't hover. He gives you space and lets you think about it. Rushing into a purchase is not good. You'll usually experience buyers remorse.
  • Does he only look at the husband or man shopping and ignore the woman? Walk out. If you are buying as a couple, then your opinion matters. Talk it over with your spouse before you get there on how to handle the chauvinistic salesman.

You have to be strong and firm when dealing with salesman. A good one will respect that and could be your salesman for a long time. Being weak will have salesmen walking over you. If that is the case, then just had over all the money you have.


The Signs of a Good Salesman

How do you know you have a good salesman?

  • He is polite.
  • He treats everyone shopping the same.
  • He does not hover.
  • He does stay close by in case you have questions.
  • He inquires as to what you need.
  • He directs you to the product for you while showing you options.
  • He backs off when he needs to.
  • He offers to look up information.
  • He is easy to talk to.

When to Walk Away

I'm a big fan of walking away from a salesman when he has gone too far. I am the customer. If you don't give me what I'm looking for, I'm out of here.

I went car shopping once before we had kids. I was looking for a four door car because I believed in getting a car and keeping it for several years. That meant the car we got could be the one we had when we had our first child. I wanted to be prepared. The salesman said, "If you don't have kids now, why worry about?" as he directed me to a sports car that was four times as much as what I was able to pay. I walked away. Obviously, this salesman wasn't going to listen to me. Therefore, he wasn't the one to get the commission from my purchase.

There is nothing wrong in walking away when the salesman is rude or just refuses to listen. My husband loves to tell the manager of any store how good or bad their salesmen are. I just leave. You don't have to buy from them, but keep in mind that they are doing their job. They just need to be professional about it.


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    • Seeker7 profile image

      Helen Murphy Howell 5 years ago from Fife, Scotland

      This is a very interesting and helpful hub. I don't think most people really do know how to be firm with a salesman and get led a merry dance by some of them. I'm like you in that I will walk away if I think they are pushing for a bigger sale, rather than the goods that I need.

      The only sales folks that I have no time for - and I do realise they are only doing their job, but it drives me nuts - is when they phone my home! For me this is an invasion of my privacy, especially when I know for a fact that I've not asked anyone to call me. I'm afraid I'm not very tolerant of these callers.

      This was a great hub and it will help many people to deal better with situations when they go shopping!