Monday, August 4, 2008

My experience with direct salesmen

In olden days, we were confronted by salesmen only in the showroom, but these days they have become proactive, and they come to your home/ office as well.

Door to door salesmanship in India was pioneered by vacuum cleaner sellers and water purifier sellers. Then there are carpet sellers who also do their sales pitch by going door to door.

I refuse to entertain them, saying I do not want whatever item they are selling. So that rules out door to door salesmen at my home.

It leaves salesmen who approach me at the office.

Unlike other people, I just cannot make people wait. I respect everyone's time, and that includes even salesmen. So when they want to come see me, I let them in.

It appears that there is some management college in the city ( obviously nothing like IIMs) and they teach their students various skills. And one of the skills is supposed to be direct selling to customers. As practical, they are sent to various offices where they try their newly acquired knowledge of salesmanship.

It is these management students who come trying to sell things.

Here is how they do it.

Two of them approach me. They start their sales pitch- " We all need to have good general knowledge , and we need to know what is going on around us. You must know who Darwin was, you should be aware how many legs an octopus has, who had written Kalidas's Shakuntala, why sky is blue, how computers work, how a locomotive works..."

I,losing patience, state- "That is all right, but what has that got to do with your visit.."

Salespitch continues-" unless you know all these facts, you cannot answer these questions in interviews, you cannot score high marks in exams, you cannot win Rs one crore in KBC.."

I, losing patience again-" OK, I cannot do all that, and you have come to tell me my limitations ?.."

Salesmen--" One can improve one's general knowledge if one has a good book where all these information are presented in an easy to understand manner. Here is this book "Discovery facts and figures". If you buy this book in stores, it will cost you Rs 1500. But our company is committed to spreading general awareness among public. That is why this book is being offered at a concessional rate of only Rs 600."

And they take out the book from their bag with a flourish. It is a book that I have with me for the past 25 years, and in fact I have many such books with me which I purchased in the past when I was an avid book collector.

I tell them that all this salespitch is alright if you are dealing with a college student or someone who actually needs to improve his GK. All these things that they are telling me- "appearing in exams,appearing in interviews, having to know how a computer or a locomotive works" all that is old hat for me. In fact, these days I am in a position to be the examiner,interviewer,manufacturer of a locomotive etc. Moreover, I know all the facts they want me to know. And I add more information to my memory cells than what is available in these books. The stuff contained in this book are meant for school kids. The information that I seek are far too advanced to be available in a book like this.

"Well, then you can take this book for your children, or for any relatives or friends who may use it".

"I think you did not hear me. I said that I already have this book, and in fact I have similar books from many such publications that I purchased when I was a college student, which was 25 years ago." -I explain patiently.

The salesmen are obviously taught that their customers are fools and they need to be explained things very slowly and in a step by step manner. They put that book back into their bag and take out another book "Oxford English dictionary" and start telling me- " Every one needs to have a good vocabulary in English. They need to know the meaning of difficult English words such as superstition, acrimony, stupefied etc.."

"But I already know the meanings of such words and more. And I do not need a dictionary. I have as good a vocabulary as I need. I think you people did not listen carefully to what I said.I do not need to impress people by using English words memorised from a dictionary. One does not learn words from a dictionary. One learns them by reading books"- I explain.

The salesmen do not seem to believe me. Their training and exposure did not include such information. They take out another book. "We all need good careers in life. And one of the best careers is Engineering. But getting into Engineering is not easy. There is tough competition. One needs to have clear fundamentals so that one can clear entrance examinations of Engineering colleges..".

I lose my composure and ask them to get the hell out of there.


Corinne Rodrigues said...

You've certainly got more patience than me, Atul. Good one!

squarecut.atul said...

Not always, Corinne. I di not show the same patience when more such people (obviously from the same institute would come with the same sales pitch carrying the same books.

At least they should carry different books, so that they may stand a better chance of selling a book that I may not have.

Also, their teachers need to realise that one cannot brush all customers with the same broom. If an institute thinks that customers are fools, then I pity such institutes and their students.

Raja Swaminathan said...

Ha ha ha.
Good one, Atul.
I can empathise - mere saath bhi hua hai.

I had this experience on two successive days in Bangalore last year.

Same story...first General Knowledge, then English dictionary....

I think they must have been different guys as the dual attack was in two places, quite far apart. One was Commercial Street, the other was Vijayanagar.

I thought "what is written on my face ? Sucker ? Why do all these guys find only me ?" :-)

Glad to know I am not the only one. :-)

squarecut.atul said...

It only shows that the booksellers have such low opinion of their customers.