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How To Stop Sales Associates From Bothering You


I so enjoy clothes, shoes, accessories, jewelry, belts… fashion. I adore putting together timeless and interesting looks people haven't seen before or creating a new take on looks people have seen before. I love that I have a creative job that involves working for myself and making people feel better about themselves, but I must admit after taking a break from shopping for other people to shop for myself I was reminded of what I don't like about the fashion business. 

    Pushy, illogical and/or ignorant sales associates.

When I am with my clients it is easy to get sales people away or put them to work. Everything is very business and I am very open with the fact that I am a personal stylist, which shuts 95% of sales associates pushy suggestions; although I have encountered the rare breed that continues to give their sell, sell, sell opinion.   

But, when I am shopping by myself I am generally private, thorough, quiet and want to be at peace as I get to finally shower my skills and talents of a personal stylist on myself. If I need a size or a dressing room I ask politely without fuss and without conversation inducing questions/statements.

I didn't get to have my peace yesterday. I was in BCBG slipping through the yummy sales racks when I am asked not once, but twice, "What are you shopping for?" I loathe when sales men and women ask me direct questions with lengthy answers, forcing me to speak to them. Mostly because I know they are trying to make me spend as much money as possible versus helping me get what I want. Second, because it is a rude question. It is none of their business what I am looking for. Lastly and logically, most people will know what they want when they find it or will simply ask for help if they need it. If I wanted her help, I would ask for it.

I can spot a lovely sales person right away and thankfully they exist right along side the pushers. I adore when I sense that heavenly sales associate close enough to ask a question without feeling like she is waiting for me to ask a question. They let me know they are here for me, start me a dressing room if I have a few things and then once in the dressing room checks on me once or twice, depending on how many items I took in, to see if I need a different size. 

Is that too much to ask of the pushers? Do they really think they are going to drive sales by harassing me with questions about my life and standing so close I can smell their overused perfume? They will drive us out of the stores. No wonder half my clients come to me terrified of the mall and the creatures that lurk there.

If you are a shopper that likes to be left alone, here are a few things you can say to your pressuring sales associates to make your experience more enjoyable.

1) They say, "What are you shopping for?"

If you need help you can tell them the truth and see if they are on your page, if they are not showing you things that make sense with your request, simply say (always with a smile), "You know thank you so much for your help, but I am just going to browse and see what I can find"

If you don't need help at all you can say:

    "I am just browsing."

    "Nothing really."

    "Just seeing what catches my eye."

2) If they ask again or rephrase the question after seeing what you are touching, "If you are looking for a sequined dress, I can show you one back here."

    "I like to shop alone, thank you."

    "I would really just to like browse, thank you." 

    "I prefer to shop in a specific manner thank you."

    And you can end any of these responses with: "I will let you know when I need help."

3) Let's say you come out of the dressing room to look at yourself in a garment and they are out there. They say, "You look amazing, you have to get that."

    You can say, "Thank you."

They come back with, "Don"t you love it?!"

    You can say, "I am still thinking."

You want the person to leave so you can actually look at yourself without them stressing you out.

    You can say, "If you don't mind I would like to look at this by myself. Thank you so much."

4) They want to show you something. "Let me show you something."

    You can say, "Not today, thank you."

5) They randomly point out an item that has nothing to do with your life saying, "This looks so great on," or "This has been selling like crazy," or "[Some celebrity] was seen in this," or "We just got this in."

You can say, "I am fine, thank you." Which you can always use whenever you want someone to leave you alone during the shopping process, no matter what they are asking or telling you. If you don't feel like remembering anything else, just remember that. Even with eye contact and a smile this should make them leave you alone after a couple of interactions.  

Leave a note for Vanessa.

5 Responses

  1. Just throwing out another opinion, I am a sales girl and while I like to think I’m not the pushy type, I tend to just say “if you need anything just let us know”, our boss is very on us to ask and ask and ask. The problem is that we know we’re being obnoxious, but we’re fired if we don’t push product unfortunately.
    And my boss at least doesn’t take “They just don’t need help.” as a legitimate excuse.
    And Natural Cosmetics Girl, unfortunately we are not psychic. We don’t know when you need us. Eventually we might come up with a gadget for knowing when a client needs us, but in the mean time we are human just like you.

  2. Hi Erin,
    As mentioned in the post, there are just as many lovely sales associates as there are pushy ones. Thank you for being one of the lovely ones who speaks my most favorite sentence in the retail industry, “if you need anything just ask.” Keep up the good work!

  3. Great post! I will definitely be trying these suggestions next time I am out “just browsing”.

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