Wednesday, July 6, 2011

We Apologize for the Convenience: the sordid secret of the add-on sale.

   We all know about suggestive selling, aka: the Add-On. Anyone who has ever worked retail has had to suggest an add-on and anyone who has every visited a retail location has had to turn one down. Everyone knows about them and everyone hates them. Well, everyone involved in the actual verbal exchange hates them. Upper Management however, loves them.

   Upper Management loves a lot of things that lowly associates despise, because they work in an office building and look at graphs of sales all day and imagine that every associate working for the company is very emotionally invested in their job but also dumb as nails and needs some hardcore micro-managing from above to get anything accomplished.
  Upper Management has done research and conducted studies and discovered that suggestive selling improves the sale of any item being suggested. They are very excited about this information and have set about over-implementing it to the point where lowly-associates are beginning to feel that if they don't sell enough odor eliminating candles they are going to lose their jobs.
   I would like to point out that the results of said studies are fairly obvious. There are three types of people who will purchase an item when asked.
     Type 1: The Coincidental Shopper. 
             -Of course if you ask enough people to buy a sponge eventually someone is going to come in who has been needing a sponge and forgot until just then. They will happily buy a sponge and thank you for suggesting it

   Type 2: The Shut-The-Hell-Up Shopper.
               - If you keep talking long enough and loud enough about how wonderful this particular sponge is, some people will eventually spend the three dollars on the sponge in order to get you to stop talking. Do not misinterpret this as a successful sale. This customer will hate you a little for what you have done and vow to never let it happen again. As a result, they next time you try this on them they will turn into Evil-bitch-who-shrieks-at-you-to-stop Shopper, and you have only yourself and Upper Management to blame.

   Type 3: The Easily Influenced Idiot aka: Upper Management's Ideal Shopper.
              - There are some people who will buy whatever you tell them to because they are not very smart and don't care what they are getting as long as they are spending money. However, the three dollar sponge that you just got them to buy is at this point arbitrary since you most likely already talked them into buying a 400 dollar stand mixer even though they bake something a total of three times a year.

   These three types of people still only make up roughly 10% of everyone you ask to buy a sponge. This number is significant enough to show up on a corporate graph that someone will use to justify the whole process, but not significant enough to stop the associate from hating their life a little and 94% of the customers from hating the associate (remember Type 2 still hates you as well).

   Most shoppers hate being asked to purchase something at the check-out. It makes them feel awkward and as if they are being taken advantage of. I'm with them on that. It happens to me all the time. I'm a Type 2 because I can't be rude to people so I am constantly getting taken advantage of and harboring residual hatred as a result.
    Associates in most retail establishments are forced to hawk, bargain, and plead to sell a certain number of various add-ons every month in order to not get politely threatened by various members of management. It's a lesson in humility that you shouldn't have to repeat every two minutes every day, and yet we do. All pride is lost when the phrase "And would you like to try our new odor absorbing gel today?" is the conclusion of every conversation you have with any stranger.
   The next time someone asks you so purchase a two dollar item, or asks you to sign up for a rewards program, stop and evaluate the situation:
     Did the associate mumble and fail to make eye-contact while asking you this question?
                   - If so, please consider purchasing said item knowing that this associate has been rudely rejected by so many people that day already that if you don't give them some hope they will most definitely end up shuffling home and drinking themselves into a despair stupor while mulling over how it all came to this.

   Did the associate make too much eye-contact and is their voice tinged with a hint of desperation?
                     - If so, allow me to interpret. When they asked "Would you like to try a new micro-fiber sponge today?" what they were trying to telepathically scream at you was "Please buy a sponge!!!! No one has bought a sponge all day and I'm going to get fired!!!!! Please for the love of God by a sponge!!!!!!" Once again, please consider spending the three dollars to save someone from a night of despair and a tomorrow of condemnation.

    Did the associate make the appropriate amount of eye-contact while cheerfully and sincerely offering you a sponge?
                     - If so, one of several things is happening.
                               - It is possible the associate is new to the job and is still innocent, having not suffered too much rejection yet. Please consider purchasing a sponge from them knowing that you have helped prolong this blissfully ignorant mental state for at least a few more days.
                               - It is also possible that this associate enjoys their job way too much because they are either obnoxiously positive or tragically unintelligent.* Please note that this person is most likely despised by all of their co-workers and needs to be brought down a peg or two. Feel free to rudely reject them.
                              *Statistics have proven that these two things are usually linked.
                                        - It is less likely but entirely possible that this person is simply an incredibly good actor. They still hate their job and abhor the fact that they are essentially begging you to buy things you don't need, but possess an uncanny ability to hide it from you and appear terrifyingly sincere.* Please consider buying a sponge from them because the facade can never last and constant rejection is better at destroying someone's soul than any amount of physical ammunition.
                                * I know these people exist because if I've had enough coffee I am one of them.
   If you're having a hard time telling which of these things is happening, the eyes truly are the windows to the soul. You can always tell how innocent or truly dense someone is by their eyes.
   The essential lesson to take away from this little insight into the world of retail is this: No matter how much everyone involved in the actual add-on exchange hates the process- none of them are to blame. The associate is merely doing their job under threat of punishment leading up to and/or including termination, and the customer is the unwitting target, who can't always avoid the situation because everyone needs toilet paper.
    It all comes down to misdirected rage. Associates and customers have to deal with it all the time when the only people who truly deserve angry letters and violent condemnation is Upper Management, who I imagine sit in their in-office hot-tubs eating grapes and ho-ho's together while laughing about how how many sponges they forced people to sell/buy this month and how the employee suicide rate only increased two percent while sponge sales increased ten with only three truly violent outbursts from customers.
          All in all that makes it a success.


  1. I'm bothered that so many of your suggestions end with the customer actually purchasing the sponge. I think a better idea would be to have a violent outburst in the middle of the store, increasing the chances that the whole add-on process will be discontinued. Also, while regular customers are a drain on employees, truly crazy customers are kindof a relief, aren't they?

  2. Please understand that no amount of outbursts or rudeness to the employee will deter the add-on process, but makes their life even harder. If you want the process to cease consider writing a letter to the corporate office instead of abusing some poor employee. Also I am only asking you to consider buying a sponge. If you don't want to please say no as nicely as possible. Truly crazy customers are not a relief, they are the despair-icing on the top of a cupcake of horror.

  3. I had a candle thrown at me once. Just a little one mind you.