Human Nature

I had a job once as an appliance salesman. I didn’t last long.

I had decided to be a different kind of salesman. People complain about pushy salesmen all the time, so I decided that I would simply explain the different features and abilities and allow them to make up their own minds: no pressure, no hard-sell.

It’s easy to remember how many I sold. It’s a nice, round number. In three weeks I sold exactly zero units. Customers would spend a long time talking with me, then decide to go home to “think it over.”

Eventually the top salesman took pity on me– of course, I was no threat to him– and pulled me aside. “You aren’t selling washers and dryers,” he told me, “You’re selling yourself.  If they like you, they’ll buy from you.  Flatter them–  if it’s a man, compliment either his boots or his belt buckle; if it’s a woman compliment her dress.”

He demonstrated on the next man who walked through the door. “Oh, my!” he cried, “That’s a fine looking pair of boots!” The customer beamed. He left with our most expensive washing machine and an overpriced maintenance agreement.

I found the scene so depressing that I quit later that day.

Yesterday somebody told me that he wished there was a news service that just gave us the facts without trying to sway us to one side or the other.

I thought to myself, “No, you don’t.”

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