Best Buy has a long-running ad campaign taking advantage of the fact that their employees aren’t on commission. This is just about the most desparate, jerk-driven campaign I’m aware of for a number of reasons.
If it doesn’t pay me, why should I learn about it?
On the flip side of this pressure problem, there are situations where it’s beneficial to the customer. Commission in many of the longest running retail companies is seen as an incentive – not to sell the biggest TV or best computer (which have the lowest margin and make the salesfolk the least coin) but to ensure that whatever gets sold, stays sold. If I sell you something I make commission on, and you bring it back for whatever reason, more likely than not I’m going to lose the money I made on that sale. It’s fairly logical, and it means that commissioned salesfolk have a direct interest in ensuring you get what you’re actually going to use. If they fail to do this, they’re doing it wrong.
Not all commissioned salespeople are pressure salespeople!
Yes. In a lot of places where the employee takes a cut of the profits, there’s an attitude of competition and a certain feeling of pressure for the buyer. Some of the worst experiences people can have are at the hands of greedy salesfolk who are solely interested in how much money they can make from you. We get that, Best Buy, it’s a unversal truth. You can stop beating the horse, it’s dead.
It’s easy to recognize the high-pressure salespeople.
But only if you’re paying attention! Listen to what you’re being told, and if in doubt, ask for proof of the salesperson’s claims, or do some research on your own. It’s that simple. Call over one of the other salesfolk in the store – there are bound to be more than one – and see if the stories match up.
Salespeople enjoy loyalty just as much as you do!
When I began working in commissioned retail, my mentor explained some of the best ways to use commission as an incentive for knowing your product, knowing your customers, and knowing how to put the two together in the best possible way.
Now, I’ve got a customer who’s followed me around for the last four years, because I was nice to him and listened for twenty minutes the first time we met. He was new to Canada, and didn’t speak English very clearly. He had spoken to five other staffers in my store, and was persistant enough not to up and leave when they didn’t help. As a result, I’ve sold him perhaps dozens of things he’s needed – and gladly accepted returns for what he doesn’t need, because by and large, they’re not actually returns! He trusts me enough to re-explain what he wanted, and in most cases, we can find something that will work, even if the process takes three or even four exchanges before we get it right. Because I’ve been loyal to his needs, he has been loyal to me as a salesperson.
We can’t get enough of this kind of behavior! And if Best Buy had their way, commission would be gone, and I’d have little to no incentive to make sure that when I train new staff, they learn appropriate habits for keeping people happy with what they buy, and not snowblinding them with dazzling displays of awesomeness. At the end of the day, the only business worth doing is business that’s beneficial to everyone in volved. Abused, commission can ruin retail and other kinds of businesses more effectively than any other kind of abuse. In the right light, it enhances interaction by providing incentive and fair compensation, making it even more possible to be useful to your customers, and encouraging customers to be loyal to your company, and even to you personally, as a salesperson.
We’re all trying to win. There’s no reason we can’t.