Overhelpful Sales Assistants Kill Your Business


Like any other woman, I love shopping. I enjoy entering the shop and quietly observing the current “repertoire”, weighting all the pros and cons, digging deeply into the available items, and carefully thinking how this new thing will fit into my life. However, there is one thing that is frequently spoiling my pleasure. The sales assistants… trying to be “overhelpful”. I am not sure if this is a correct term to use, but I cannot describe it in any other way. I guess the initial intention is quite positive, just not about right.. This is not necessarily the fault of poor sales assistants, honestly trying to win their bread. Most frequently, “overhelpfulness” is something that is imposed on them on the daily basis.

How the business owner sees it

Owners of big and small shops believe that the more helpful your staff is, the better. They advice them to smile, and be friendly. They teach them how to be polite and attentive. But, as a result, all this turns into a direct order not to leave a customer in peace until he buys something. Another words, push your goods into his pockets, until he runs away…

How the customer sees it

Imagine, you are inside a boutique, minding your own business, observing beautiful dresses, and considering if you can afford it, and will it match with your shoes, and so on… And, suddenly, this perfect harmony is interrupted by a girl (or a boy) asking “Can I help you?”. At this moment, I immediately start feeling uncomfortable, it distracts all my thoughts, and all I want to do is just leave this god damned place for good. However, I make an effort, and stay, refusing the kind offer, and returning to my previous brainstorming. And, what do you think? I will be extremely lucky, if another sales assistant will not appear from a different corner, and startle me with the same template question. Once, I was literally attacked with five bored to death shop workers, trying to sell me everything they could. This is not me being anti-social. This is the true and honest opinion of all  the people I know.

buy our damned products

Contemporary Art Exhibition, Glasgow 2011

How the customer wants it to be

Saying all the things above, I by no means wanted to imply that I do not require help in my shopping. On the contrary, I do need it quite often. However, similarly to the majority, I prefer help to appear as a result of my own kind request, when I make up my mind, and the question is already formed in my mind. That is why it is so important for a sales assistant to act as a mere observer, being ready to provide his advice and guidance when he is asked to ONLY.

Some other useful tips for sales assistants

You should NOT:

– be formal and snobbish

– put on a fake smile that starts from your nose, and stretches till your ears

– retell a client text learned by heart

– be too pushy in promoting your goods/services

– look down on a person just because he came to check out the sales, and/or discounted items

You should:

+ be polite and natural

+ be friendly and have a good sense of humour

+ be knowledgeable about your products/services

+ offer the client all the available options, considering his demands and finances

A client is not a bag of cash. It is a guest, that is always welcome to your shop. If you make him feel it, he will not only be visiting it as often as he can, but also bringing friends and family to experience the same incredible sensation.

I hope it helps. (;


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One Response to “Overhelpful Sales Assistants Kill Your Business”
  1. Ranori says:

    Totally agree with your points… I must admit, I feel sorry for people working in sales industry. They are told by theirs managers that a customer MUST BE approached within (30!!!) seconds! Is it not ridiculous? Moreover, sales assistants are also often told to approach a customer with an open-ended question. “Can I help?” is bad, it is just not good enough! They have to ask “Hello sir, what are you looking for?” This is so off putting! It just doesnt work. A customer feels intimidated, and thinks that you are pushy, but you are just doing what your boss have told you to do…
    However, I also know some customer who were angry because they havent been approached, they thought that it was lazy customer service…
    I believe that there has to be a golden middle, like with everything, really.

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