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10-17-2007, 11:07 AM   #1
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"Helpful" salesman.

Just a little story which some of you may find all too familiar... I'm sure the subject won't mind since he is guaranteed never to visit a Pentax forum...

So we all know that people can be a bit evangelical regarding their favourite brand. Some people will try and "convert" everyone else and will insist that their brand is inherently superior in every way. This is not news and we see it all over the internet. However, whenever I have encountered this behaviour "in real life" it has tended to be from beginners who have simply read or heard that Canon/Nikon was better... I have not seen it from camera shop staff. Sure, they will say Brand A have very good lenses, Brand B's camera has the latest technology etc, but I haven't seen them insist that the alternatives are inferior and try to force their views on the customer... until today...

It was in a busy shop, and I was interested in looking at some camera bodies (for a present) and lenses (for myself )... I was also interested in looking at the new Sony purely out of curiosity, so I asked to see it... the salesman showed it to me but told me not to ask for his opinion, as he was a Canon man and didn't have anything good to say about it. I took this to be joking pretend-hostility, but he continued complaining about how badly designed it was, saying that Sony should stick to making video cameras. They shouldn't try to compete with Canon. I couldn't be bothered to argue, reassured him I wouldn't be buying the Sony and instead asked if he could get a Samsung (so I could try a K-mount lens as I didn't have a body on me)... once again he complained about how it didn't fit in the hand the way a Canon does... Samsung shouldn't try to compete with Canon. No-one can compete with Canon. Oh, and buying Canon is an investment for the future (Sadly I didn't mention that I can use a Takumar on a digital SLR and ask him if he can do the same with a Canon FD lens )

Now it shouldn't really bother me that a salesman has and expresses these silly and snobbish ideas... except that he actually said he only sells Canon. In other words if you go and ask him what to buy he will only, and always, tell you Canon. Only if you specifically ask to see or buy something else will he get it out, and then reluctantly, telling you why you're wrong and should of course be buying a Canon...

I am pleased to say that this was in a chain store I had very little intention of buying from anyway, not from what I would consider a "good" camera shop. Still, I was not impressed

10-17-2007, 01:04 PM   #2
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I know how you feel. The local chain stores in my area emphasize Nikon or Canon. Want to special order something? I'll quote the salesman I was attempting to work with: "I'm sure you can get it cheaper online, I wouldn't even bother. Besides, we don't sell anything but Nikon, Canon and some Sony to the die-hards."
10-17-2007, 01:41 PM   #3
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We had a similar experience in Wal-Mart about a decade ago, only involving computers instead. This salesperson was an HP fan. Nothing wrong with that, but we were shopping for a Macintosh. And we told him very early in the conversation that we were long time Apple users and were only interested in a Mac at the moment. Regardless, he went into a large speech about how bad the Mac was (95% of it misinformation, some downright bizarre), how overpriced the Mac was (the HP he was trying to sell was more expensive then the Mac we were looking at), and so on. After about twenty minutes, I started to get angry and argue with him. This (an angry customer) did not even slow him down. After about an half hour, we finally walked out of the store.

However, the next day, we visited the store again to talk with the store manager (not department supervisor). We told him about the incident, how long we were there, and some of the things the salesperson had said. The manager was cautious, saying he would look into the situation and, if true, would take steps to prevent it from happening again. He also said, if true, he is sincerely sorry.

Two days later, we visited the store once again during the same hours and the salesperson was gone. We asked one of the other salespersons and was told he had argued with a computer customer and was dismissed. Three days after that, we received a letter from the store manager apologizing for the incident, saying the employee was dismissed, urging us to continue shopping at Wal-Mart, and saying the envelope contained a handful of store sales coupons as a token.

Salespersons are there to sell the store's inventory, not their preferred merchandise. A salesperson who ultimately fails in this responsibility has failed in his or her job and deserves to be dismissed. In your case, if the employee wants to only sale Canon products, he should be working for Canon instead.

stewart
10-17-2007, 06:28 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by stewart_photo Quote
Salespersons are there to sell the store's inventory, not their preferred merchandise. A salesperson who ultimately fails in this responsibility has failed in his or her job and deserves to be dismissed. In your case, if the employee wants to only sale Canon products, he should be working for Canon instead.
That sums it up very well. In most camera stores where the staff have experience of photography, if asked they will often say that they prefer (for example) Nikon cameras, or Olympus lenses, etc... nothing wrong with that as they are simply giving their personal preference. But never before have I seen anything like this; a salesman so fanatical and so hostile to his own store's products and the people who would use them. The best word I can use to describe the scenario is "surreal", because I felt like I was talking to an internet fanatic of the sort who gets quickly banned from camera forums, and it had never occured to me that someone could actually have that attitude in "the real world", even to the extent that it prevents him doing his job properly...

Honestly, I suspect if he did apply for a job with Canon he would never get past the interview. I doubt "nutter" is on any company's list of desired qualities in an employee

10-17-2007, 06:51 PM   #5
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Salespersons are there to sell the store's inventory, not their preferred merchandise. A salesperson who ultimately fails in this responsibility has failed in his or her job and deserves to be dismissed. In your case, if the employee wants to only sale Canon products, he should be working for Canon instead.


Similar story here involving Pentax. I went to a Future shop store and they were having some grand sale. Went in to get a printer. But I had some time to kill and decided to go over to the camera counter. So I ask to look at the K100D pretending to be a novice at first. The guy says " we have them but I wouldn't advise that brand" So I ask why and he goes on and on about how behind the times Pentax is and the brand is dying, hasn't the same features as a similarly priced Canon etc etc.

I then asked to look at the K10D and he says expensive but not worth the money. I said I was interested in the anti shake and the reply was that the in body anti shake doesn't help and you have to go with N or C to get real anti shake. I explained the advantage of legacy lenses and SR. He says He knew for a fact it wouldn't work on old glass and he said most old Pentax glass wouldn't work on the camera anyway. Like Stewart I got a bit angry and told him I owned this camera and he had no idea what he was talking about. He continued to argue his pro C/N points. Even told me that Pentax positively doesn't make a 50mm as fast as the C 50mm f1.8. Whatever....

After talking to the store manager, the salesperson now works on cash.

But I partly blame the Pentax reps. They are not educating these guys and showing them that there are other brands out there. C/N make great gear but that doesn't mean there isn't a place for Sony, Oly, Pentax etc. Shame on Pentax for not checking to see who's selling their gear and how it's being presented.

Bought the printer at Staples...
10-17-2007, 07:06 PM   #6
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Thankfully the only time I wasn't able to do my own research on camera equipment was when buying my first flash ~12 yrs ago. I was steered toward the Vivitar 283, which cost a ton from that store, but at the time I didn't have much choice.

(and I still have that, and in fact used it the other day... money well spent)

I haven't seen anything Pentax in any local stores in my area, chain stores or mom & pop stores, and I've been here for 9 yrs.
10-17-2007, 07:59 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Peter Zack Quote
But I partly blame the Pentax reps. They are not educating these guys and showing them that there are other brands out there. C/N make great gear but that doesn't mean there isn't a place for Sony, Oly, Pentax etc. Shame on Pentax for not checking to see who's selling their gear and how it's being presented.
I place the blame squarely on the companies employing these "salespeople." Every time I go to Circuit City, Best Buy, and CompUSA I walk around the camera section, sometimes to see if I can snag an extra SD card or other accessory on sale, but usually to hear what goes around on the sales floor.

The same garbage I hear on the computer sales floor goes on in the camera sales floor... Misinformation 101 is the name of the game. Sadly sales people are not trained to learn about all product lines so they can help a customer make the best choice possible. It's up to the sales person to learn this additional info, because chances are they will not receive the training necessary.

How many of you have had to stop yourselves from rescueing a customer who's being railroaded into buying some junk? Tough, isn't it?
10-17-2007, 09:57 PM   #8
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I fully expected to get this same treatment when I went to a local overpriced camera store near my Father's house (we don't have any at all). The salesman asked me what he could show me and since I had never seen a K10D, I asked to see that. He responded with "So what, you don't like diving into the manual every time something weird happens (like other brands)"? I would have bought mine from him if they weren't so proud of it!

10-18-2007, 04:10 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Frogroast Quote
I place the blame squarely on the companies employing these "salespeople."
Many salespeople are just incompetent. Chain stores in particular pay low wages and provide little training, and the end result is poor service.

My dad ran a stereo store for over 30 years before he retired. It is very difficult to hire quality sales people. You try to find someone knowledgeable, but they often are more concerned about showing their own knowledge and opinion rather than helping the customer or making a sale. Usually it's better to find a good sales person and then just teach them about the products (rather than taking an expert on the products and trying to teach them to be a good sales person). I doubt if the big box chains stores put one-tenth of the effort into it that my dad did.

My dad often hired outside companies to conduct sales seminars. Of course, the store wanted to promote the high profit products, but it was more important to make any sale at all. A few rules that I recall from the seminars:

1. The customer is always right. If the customer asks for brand P, then show him brand P. If that what he wants to buy, don't try to talk him out of it.

2. If the customer asks your opinion, then suggest the high profit product and explain its positive features. But never put down the brand that the customer asks for. "Well, both brand P and brand C are fine cameras. I like this brand C model we have on sale today and it has some nice features. ..."

3. Never criticize alternative brands and competing stores. It makes you sound petty and the customer may become defensive. Explain why your store and your brands are good without being negative about the alternatives.



You still run across good stores and good salespeople from time to time, and I do like to buy from such local stores when I can do so.
10-18-2007, 04:42 AM   #10
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I have seen salespeople recommending specific brands, not because they are fans of that brand, but because that brand has higher margins. There was one guy who was pushing panasonic like crazy because of that... A lot of salespeople work on comission and selling certain cameras gives a bigger profit.
10-18-2007, 07:19 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by and Quote
I have seen salespeople recommending specific brands, not because they are fans of that brand, but because that brand has higher margins. There was one guy who was pushing panasonic like crazy because of that... A lot of salespeople work on comission and selling certain cameras gives a bigger profit.
The industry term is "spiff:" you get paid specific bonus on certain items. Sell this particular product and you get $20 in your pocket (on top of your regular salary and commission). Even so, a good salesman will not blow a sale by pushing a lucrative product when the customer clearly wants something else. See my post above.
10-18-2007, 07:31 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by GaryML Quote
Even so, a good salesman will not blow a sale by pushing a lucrative product when the customer clearly wants something else. See my post above.
Of course, a good salesman, but then how many of those are there out there... especially in big chain stores that sell general electronics. normally the salespeople are studends looking for some extra cash or people who have no idea about what they are selling.
10-18-2007, 09:30 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by and Quote
Of course, a good salesman, but then how many of those are there out there... especially in big chain stores that sell general electronics. normally the salespeople are studends looking for some extra cash or people who have no idea about what they are selling.
Exactly, and it comes also with the human nature to get the maximum profit with the minimum effort. At any case, I tend to be patient with salesmans since I know that many of them are under a lot of pressure (lack of money, crappy managers...). If they are only irrationally biased I try to justify them telling myself that they think they look more knowledgeble by being critical with something. I have some problems thought with those that are plain and simple greedy (I dont know if I am distorting the reality but in my experience they are hairy and tend to wear golden watches...wait a minute... that it is the image of Alec Baldwin in Gleengarry Glenn Ross...)
10-18-2007, 10:34 AM   #14
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These are the days I am glad one of my good friends works for the camera department for London Drugs, They stock and sell pentax bodies and lenses, he was the one that recommended Pentax to me. I have yet to look back, Although I keep eyeing up that k10d....it's just a bit out of my reach at the moment.

I have to say, having worked with salesman in almost every job i've had, I don't trust a single thing they say, unless you know the person, you never know if they actually get trained in all the brands and products.
10-18-2007, 11:06 AM   #15
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As a recovering (former) salesperson, I feel the need to throw in my $.02 (take it at face value if that's all it's worth to you).

There's a big difference between a customer service rep and a salesperson.

A customer service rep is poorly compensated because they're there to do the customers bidding. You want that item that actually costs the company money to sell and don't want anything else (loss leader)? No problem here you go sir.

A salesperson is required to make profitable transactions with customers, and their incentive to maximize this is commission.

Canon and Nikon are in high demand, to be competitive on price their dealers are making huge orders. That puts the salespeople on the spot to sell these products. It's not just a matter of making more commission, the oldest trick in the book is for the employer to reduce commission on lesser demand products while increasing commission on high demand products (sometimes the other way around depending on inventory levels).

I worked for a large car audio company and they did this all the time. We needed to do huge volume in some manufacturers brand in order to get a great deal next year. They order 100,000 head units when we need 10,000. They would reduce commission on every other brand and pay ridiculous commission on that brand until inventory came down. It starts at the top and makes its way down.

If you want to find fault with someone for how widespread the issue is, it's Pentax's fault for not making their product both profitable and popular (I know that's a tall order, but Nikon and Canon had to do it...)

In regards to specific incidents, if the salesperson doesn't know when to fold, well that's a big problem. But if they are politely pushy, well, again, that's Pentax more than anything else. You can't fault the salesperson for trying to keep his employer in business and his rent paid on time.
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