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How to Tell if You're Being Ambushed by a Salesman

Updated on June 19, 2013

Introduction to Spotting a Salesman

They can be sneaky, and they can come in all shapes and sizes. Don't be fooled, my friends, for they do NOT have your best interests in mind. I've met many salesmen in my day, and when it boils down to it, any real sales job works on commission which means they have to SELL to make any sort of MONEY. To whom must they sell? Anyone with a willing pocketbook, of course! But in the course of this hub, I'll be sharing a few of my observational and personal experiences in hopes that you'll never be caught off guard by one of these nasty predators!

In What Form Can They Appear

Just like a fictional beast, they can assume many forms. They can be your "friend" from church, or your "coworker" at work or even someone you've known for ages. Like being possessed by a devil, these "friends" of yours are truly actually salesmen trying to get YOU, the consumer, to buy whatever they're selling. I'll give you a few examples.

A guy I had known from church for a few years called me up randomly one morning and asked me out to get coffee, saying that he had some insights into my job situation (the last he had heard, I was unemployed, but I actually had found a job. I didn't let him know that, though, so as not to blow his cover). I agreed to the coffee, since it was a friend of mine that I hadn't seen in many months.

Well, as soon as I got there, and he was dressed in a business suit and had a portfolio of mutual funds in front of him, I knew what it really was. He started off with my job situation, and shifted toward what he could do for me, as a friend and fellow brother in Christ. He called himself a "resource at your (my) disposal" and asked many personal questions regarding my current financial situation.

As soon as I realized what the aim of the "coffee excursion" was, I presented him with my broke status and that him pitching any sales techniques would be like a glass salesman pitching expensive glasses to a blind man. He put away his portfolio very quickly. Well, not too quickly. Not before he asked me names and numbers of people I knew that could use his services. Lesson learned.

One more example. I was having a dinner party at a friend's house, and this friend of mine's girlfriend at the time had a cake-baking business. My friend showed me all the cakes she had baked, and sure enough, before long he was nonchalantly telling us how the business was taking off so rapidly and they were looking for investors to reap the benefits. I said, "Are you really just pitching an investment scheme to us, man?" He acted defensive and guarded his point, but conceded that he was and apologized. These creatures can come in all different shapes and sizes.

What Are Their Tactics?

Regardless of if you've identified the salesman or not, you need to find out how they attack. Know thy enemy! Here are some straight-forward methods that they will try to lure you into their kill-zone.

-Asking you out to do an activity with no pretense other than the activity

-Start talking-up a product they use, or a product in general

-They will grill you on a personal level to identify how much you have to spend

-And also to determine how likely it is that you'll buy whatever they're selling (for example, if they're selling cookies, they'll typically approach fat people at ask them if they like sweets, to get that person thinking about sweets, and then when the box of cookies appears, it's a done deal.)

-Typographing/Stereotyping. My brother worked for best buy, and during their orientation for new-hires, they would be shown different minorities and types of people and told to treat them all differently base upon presuppositions. This is called pandering to stereotypes and is highly offensive, but a talented salesman will do it in such a way that the consumer doesn't even notices

-They'll ask probing questions about different tastes in different areas, and what stores you like to go to, and try to relate to you on a personal level, so you think they're a friend. This friend-effect makes it harder for you to say no when the sales pitch comes around, and they know it.

Another Example

How I almost joined the Navy. It was a mix of peer pressure, and an excellent recruiter, and my naivete. Two of my coworkers joined the navy and put in contact with a recruiter in hopes that I would join too. I was lured into the recruiter's office knowing very little about sales techniques, and just though it was a simple, humble guy who wanted the best for me.

After about ten minutes, he began complementing me and saying how smart I was, and how I would be able to be a nuclear physicist on a submarine in the middle of nowhere. I said I didn't want to do that. He said that only a few chosen candidates were allowed to do that and it was a great honor. I said no, I don't want to do that. He had me take a practice exam of how apt I am at academic material, and I ranked in the top 1 percent. He said that confirmed it, that I was meant to join the Navy today and be a Nuclear Physicist.

Thank God I had SOME wits about me, because I said I had to think about it. Maybe it was the desperation in his eyes, or how the atmosphere went from humble blandness to oppressive sales-land in two second. I don't know, but I went outside to get a breather, and it hit me upside the head. What in the world? Why am I signing my life away to do a job I don't even want to do? Because the recruiter seemed nice, and my friends wanted me to?

I left, and never went back. I got calls for weeks, months, YEARS from him specifically, and my friends never let me live it down. I even had uniformed Navy personnel arrive at my door to recruit me. And that's after I moved halfway upstate. They were tracking me. Luckily it's been a few years since they've tried to make any contact. Lesson learned. Don't let your "friends" talk you into seeing a man who can potentially impact your life in a big way unless that really what you want to do.

But What If I Do Want to Buy Something?

This is where it gets tricky. Some people have trusted salesmen that through experience they have learned to be honest and have the customer's interests at heart. But, sometimes you don't have that luxury. That's where the beauty of online-shopping comes in. You can view the product without any middle-man, and read reviews from REAL people on the product and make a decision yourself, instead of being coaxed into buying something that isn't right for you by a shark.

Do your research.

If you've no choice but to enter a place where salesmen are bound to be, do your research beforehand. So that when the dreaded creatures sprout from the woodwork, you can counter their false or exaggerated claims about certain products, and false testimonials with true, hard facts. Can't argue with the truth. Well, they will. Even if you don't know everything about a particular topic or product, try to discern which words or phrases they are using that are just inflated or not provable.

Some statements are, "It's approved by 9 out of 10 dentists" Which ten dentists were asked about this, and a research poll of only ten people is absolutely shenanigans.

Another is "It's unparalleled" or "there's never been a product like it". Sure, it's a new product, and there isn't another product just like it. That's not amazing. That's pretty bland actually.

"You won't be sorry! I've never had one of these babies returned!" An empty promise of satisfaction that could mean anything. The more vague the statement, the more leeway the salesman has for refuting the claim's worthlessness. How do you know that he hasn't had any returns. And it's quite possible that that's true, but also quite true that that's because he hasn't ever sold one of the item.

Lastly. "It's better than most people might think!" Better, most, might, and think are all key works here. They are subjectively defined and can't be proven in any way. Put all four of them together and you get a big pile of bull ****.

Yes, this is all cynical and caustic in nature, but nevertheless, when dealing with creature-monsters such as salesmen, you have to be. Otherwise you'll end up with a garage full of crap you don't need, and a billfold of credit cards that keep calling you every month asking where your payment is. I don't want you to end up like that (like me). I've been a huge sucker in the past, and through these learning experiences, I can pass on valuable knowledge.

Closing Comments

Not all salesmen are evil, and yes it's a job I've worked before, many times actually. It's dreadful to be one of them, to have to bend your perception and become deluded to really believing the product is great and that the customer needs it. At the end of the day, salesmen are humans too, and have it rough indeed. But if they hate their job, or they feel morally ill about snowing so many people, then they need to find a new profession. Only the truly heartless, soulless individuals can thrive as salesman. Every second I spent as one, I felt my soul being torn away, and it's truly a horrific feeling.


Now go, use these techniques, and don't fall prey to the boogiemen. They're out there, and they want to hook you on their fishing pole so they can brag their fellow salesman that they caught a 220 lb Latino earlier. Don't be that guy, and don't let that guy GET you. Now, go in peace and love, brothers and sisters, for the days are long, and the nights full of respite. In Jesus' Name Amen.

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