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.

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.

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.

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