Turning Spenders Into Savers: Understanding Sales Pitches
Just because the biggest shopping season of the year is behind us doesn’t mean us shoppers don’t have to deal with temptation. In fact, the abundance of “super sales” this Jan. and Feb. have actually been more troublesome for me than the entire holiday season.
As part of our “Turning Spenders Into Savers” series, we’re deconstructing sales pitches- and discussing how to combat them. Previously in this series we discussed “why we buy”, encouraged you to “give yourself credit”, and offered different tactics for dealing with the internal urge to purchase.
However, lately I’ve found that my inner spender is coming out less and less in response to my own urges, and more and more at others’ request. And nothing is more demanding of me to indulge that inner spender than a good sales pitch.
Sales pitches can come in many forms. The face-to-face person is the most obvious source, but a pitch can come myriad ways; from an email to a billboard advertisement. Especially living in a population heavy area, you are constantly bombarded with sales pitches without even realizing. Below are the three most effective pitches on me and how I deal with them. These are the strategies that work particularly well with me, but do they work on you too? What pitches are effective on you; and how do you avoid being swayed by them?
1. The “You-Can’t-Go-Wrong” Pitch: This pitch is probably the hardest for me to resist, and comes in the most iterations. You know it too; it’s the “buy one, get one free” pitch, or the “80% off pitch”. I’m a sucker for a good deal and this January had the most aggressive sales I’ve ever seen, which naturally led to a crisis of willpower. The trouble with this pitch is that it is designed to make you feel like you are being virtuous- getting a good deal on something you would otherwise pay full price for IS celebratory. However, the pivotal word “otherwise” in the above statement creates a sticky situation. Is the said sale item something you truly do need, and would buy full price if not on sale? Or it is something you merely want, and wouldn’t have bought had the price not been so low? If the item is the former, then a purchase may be warranted. If the item is the latter (hello anthropologie dress!) , then maybe another needs vs. wants analysis necessary. My method of dealing with this particular sales pitch is to add up the cost of all cheap goods I covet to see the total cost, which I then mentally note as savings, since I don’t buy the goods.
2. The “Feel-Sorry-For-Me” Pitch: This pitch doesn’t work on everyone, but if it works on you it can be a real doozy. The sales person is particularly nice, and very friendly, in a (seemingly) honest and genuine way. They are interested in you, and seem like they have your best interests at heart. So when they encourage you to purchase something you were already interested in, you aren’t immediately on guard. You think about it, hard, and you decide that you don’t really need it. But now you have to break the news to your new found friend here- and often, it’s just easier to buy the silly thing than to do that. After all, you’re not only making yourself happy, but the other person is happy too. This whole scenario may seem very circumspect to those of you who are not spenders, but to those of us who are, I challenge you to recognize the next time you are in this situation. It happens much more than we realize, and I think particularly to women who see themselves as nurturers.
When it comes to combating this particular pitch, I try and take the precautionary approach. I’m not confrontational enough to deal with letting people down, so, more often that not, I just try and avoid sales people entirely. If I have to talk to one, I usually decide beforehand on the questions I need to ask, and stick to them.
3. The “Wait-For-It” Pitch: One of the emotions that can sometimes come up on the previous pitch is a feeling of embarrassment, or shame. Shopping, to those of us particular sensitive to being marketed to, can sometimes feel like a test of worth- can you afford to have the things you want, or do you have to go without? Having people (even if they are salespeople) witness your reticence in purchasing a product you actually want can make you feel embarrassed, or ashamed. That situation alone can sometimes force you into some unwanted buying, but add on the stress of not knowing the full price of the item until the last minute and you’ve got this pitch. It actually happened to me very recently.
I took some pairs of broken earrings to get fixed, and made the mistake of explaining to the sales woman all the various repairs while watching her scribble down furious notes. At the end of my long explanation, she assured me that all could be fixed, bagged everything up, and started writing out the bill. After a few tense moments, she presented a bill for over $200 to me…for earrings that cost me no more than $50 total! I was so shocked, and annoyed that I had spent all that time explaining everything without realizing how much it would cost, I just walked out.
I had to call the store when I got home to explain I was not going to be making the purchase and was coming to pick up my (still) broken earrings the next day. But it took me the subway ride home to come to that conclusion. This is why large retail chains usually leave the last price discount to be “taken at the register”. That way, you don’t have time to get away and think- you have to decide on the spot to make the purchase. Now, I make sure I know exactly how much something is going to cost me BEFORE I walk up to the register. Sometimes, this means making it explicit to the salesperson that I’m asking for a quote- not an actual purchase. Since they need the business so badly, many are often nicer when you’re just shopping around!
Although I talk about most of the above pitches as if they are real-live sales people, the same effects and feelings can occur through phone, email or billboard advertisements as well. A perfect example of the “Wait For It” pitch are those late-night infomercials that are purposely misleading about pricing- leaving it to the last minute and never stating the “real” price. Are any of you encountering other, newer, methods of sales pitches? How do you deal with the especially desperate retail environment? And for you shoppers…how do you stop yourself when dealing with the above pitches?