5 Tips for Dealing With Pushy Salespeople

Every so often, we walk into a store and are immediately bombarded by a salesperson who needs to meet their quota for the day. They bumrush us at the gate, and follow us around making inane suggestions regarding clothing that we are just as capable of pulling off the rack as they are. They attempt a hard sell, set up dressing rooms, force themselves on us, and put us in the awkward position of having to repeatedly tell them “no.” Come to think of it, it’s not unlike dealing with drunken assholes at bars.

Butt here are ways to handle this situation, in which you don’t waste too much of your own time and you don’t get forced into dropping $250 on a pair of shoes you don’t really want:

  • Avoid excessive eye contact. When you walk in the store, say hello, then immediately turn away and go about your business.
  • If you’re just there to look, say so up front. If they keep pushing, say it again. Firmly, and with conviction.
  • Be aware of their tactics. Don’t start answering questions, or talking about your skin type, or engaging in banter about how cute something is. You’re entering their web if you do. Treat them as you would your sworn frenemy.
  • Do not try on anything you aren’t honestly considering buying. Remember — no means no, even if you have to repeat it five times.
  • If worse comes to worse, tell them to back off. There’s no need to be rude, but a simple, “I understand you’re just doing your job, but I’m really just browsing today. Thanks.” should do the trick.
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    • E

      As a salesperson, I would like to say that you should absolutely never have to feel pressured or annoyed, but please realize that we are individuals and not a giant hive-mind salesperson collective, so give us a chance before you barge into our store and treat us all like a nasty thing on the bottom of your shoe. Every time I greet someone with a smile and a “Hi! How are you today?” and in response they refuse to look at me and instead respond with a brusque “Just looking” I want to shake them and ask them where they learned their manners. It’s fine if you’re just looking, feel free to tell me that when I ask if you need help finding anything (and I promise I will respond with a “Great! My name is E, just let me know if you have any questions or need some help!”), but when I ask how you are, the appropriate response is “I’m doing well, thank you”.

      Also: we start fitting rooms for you so you don’t have to carry everything around and because they are locked, so it is more convenient for both of us if you are able to go back whenever you like (Pet Peeve: When I ask someone if they would like a fitting room started, they reply no, and 5 minutes later they are tracking me down looking huffy and demanding I open a door for them). We check on you in the fitting rooms in case you wanted to try something in a different size, are unsure of the fit, or have any questions. We are not there to be pushy, we are there because, believe it or not, there are some customers that value our experience and knowledge of our product.

    • Eileen

      As a former salesperson, I’d like to ask – please, just be polite. Don’t feel pressured to buy anything, and don’t believe that just because I’m trying to sell you something, I don’t care about you and making sure that if you buy something, it’s something you actually want. Finally, understand that it is my job. to try to engage customers. My boss would yell at me if I didn’t. That doesn’t mean that I don’t genuinely want to talk to you if you seem nice, but even if you don’t, I have to try

    • Emily

      I think the issue here is that everyone (sales people and customers) all need to be more polite to each other. Also, everyone else in the human race.

    • quiet shopper

      My ideal scenario: salespeople are visible in the store and available for questions, but they do not greet me with anything but a “good morning or good afternoon.” I really dislike being asked “how are you” by people unless they really want to know. When people look away when you greet them it’s because they really just want to browse–don’t go after them. Also, don’t lurk and watch me like you think I’m there to steal.