Mel Evans/AP/File
In this Saturday, April 21, 2012 file photograph, a sale sign is seen at a Toll Brothers development in Newtown, Pa. According to Hamm, ignoring sales pitches and doing impartial research is a muct for any smart shopper.

Ignoring the sales pitch

It's a salesman's job to highlight the positive attributes of a product. It's your job to do your research and find the drawbacks.

A few days ago, my father and I were in a local grocery store. As we strolled down one of the aisles, we came across a salesman making a pitch to a group of people crowded around. We decided to watch.

The salesman was very well practiced and had his sales pitch down cold. He was advertising a device that helps with slicing vegetables, something of a non-electric food processor.

The pitch was wonderful, and the demonstrations really made it seem as though this could save you some significant time in the kitchen. A few people bought the device.

My father and I looked at the device for a moment and then walked away. There were some design problems with it that led us both to independently conclude that the device would be junk within a year or two.

Yet, to hear the sales pitch, the device was simply the greatest thing since the invention of the knife.

This guy wasn’t really out to do something malicious. He had a product to sell, and part of selling a product is to point out all of the positive attributes of that product. There’s no reason for him to point out the negatives.

The challenge for us is to always be mindful of that fact. Salespeople, by their very nature, are going to want to show us all the positives and make the product look as good as possible.

That’s not dishonest. It’s simply showing one side of the story.

As a consumer, it is your duty to learn more before you buy. Step back from the sales pitch. Walk away. Do your own homework. Go back later if you decide that the positives outweigh the negatives.

A salesperson can make a product sound great. That’s what they’re trained to do. They’re salespeople. Their job is to generate sales, and the way to do that is to pitch the product to you.

This doesn’t just apply to the guy selling a food processor at the grocery store. It applies to the guy who wants you to buy an insurance policy, or the person on television who wants you to buy a food dehydrator. It even applies to news stories you read where the goal seems to be to hype a product or an idea (have you read some of the iPhone 5 “news” articles in the last few days?).

If someone gets you excited about a product, whether it’s a salesman in front of you, someone on the television or the phone, or even a hype-filled article, step back for a moment. Look at other sources of information about the product.

You might find that the product really is great and it really does match what you need.

On the other hand, you might find that it’s not really worth your money (or time) after all, and you can keep your wallet safely shut.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to

QR Code to Ignoring the sales pitch
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today