Salespeople and How They're (Not) Trained.

Below is an excerpt from the Idiot's Guide to Beautiful Skin. I thought I would share it with you all:

Salespeople and How They're (Not) Trained.

Many of us look to sales reps for guidance about skin care products. How well informed are they? Just listen to the experience of my friend Alice, who sold cosmetics and toiletries one holiday season in a department store in the St. Louis area.

First off, when Alice applied for the job, the interviewer made no attempt to probe the extent of her knowledge about skin care or cosmetics. She looked presentable, spoke well, and was willing to take a minimum-wage job with odd hours. Apparently this was enough, because she was hired. There was no formal training; she was simply told when and where to show up.

Her first day, she was placed behind a counter to sell products she had never heard of, let alone used. Despite her lack of experience, though, she enjoyed chatting with customers and helping them choose makeup and perfume.

Her favorite customer, she recalls, was a bewildered man searching for a birthday gift for his wife. I know she's into this stuff, he told Alice, but I have no idea how to pick out something she'll like. Alice spent a lot of time with him and they investigated a number of products, both in her area and in other brands. Finally he selected a foundation with sunscreen and a scented body lotion, neither of which came from Alice's line.

When he left he was delighted with his purchases, and Alice thought her supervisor would be delighted with her. After all, she'd made a sale, right? Wrong! The supervisor crisply pointed out her mistakes. For starters, she had sold him items from other salespersons' lines; this lowered sales for her brand while depriving them of commissions.

Even worse, she took him at his word when he mentioned his budget and only showed him products in a certain price range. Always start with your most expensive products, said the supervisor. Never say you have anything less expensive unless they ask for it specifically.

Alice's major crime was to sell the man exactly what he wanted, without trying to talk him into buying more.

You had the chance to sell him powder, sunscreen, under-eye cream, and moisturizer, but you didn't, the supervisor pointed out.

But, Alice protested, the foundation he bought had an SPF of 15, and the sunscreen in my line only has an SPF of 8. Isn't the 15 better? That doesn't matter, snapped her boss. It's all part of the product line. We are here to sell customers a complete line of skin care products.

By recounting this tale, I certainly don't mean to criticize all salespeople. Some cosmetics companies do an excellent job of training their sales representatives, and there are skilled professionals who make a genuine effort to learn their product lines and help customers. There are several whose advice I value, and they have helped me find products I like and have used for years.

However, many salespeople are like Alice was: hired and sent to the sales floor with minimal training. When
you ask for advice at the cosmetics counter, you could be speaking with a well-informed representative, or you could be dealing with someone who knows less about skin care than you do.

I really do think that training of Sales People in India needs to be done at a more rigorous level. Just providing them with branded uniforms hardly instills professionalism in them.

Once in a while, you will run into a SA who really knows her products well, but most of the time we are left grappling with people who insist on showing up the wrong foundation shade, the wrong blush for your skin type or simply lack customer etiquette.


  1. it happens always...n at lifestyle,big bazaar,westside,etc..there r 2-3 sales persons handling all d counters...juggling in between..
    last tym...der was a guy at d chambor counter...n he dint knw bout d soft art pencil in nude...i cudnt get it..
    n he was lik m workin here from 1 year n i dunno any pencil named soft art !!

  2. You are right and most of the time only motive of these girls are too sell us anything no matter wether we require it or not.

    I have found only MAC who has trained SAs ..

  3. I was quite fed up with the SAs at Lakme, Maybelline, etc., but recently at Hypercity, I found some really sweet SAs..who seemed so nonpushy and genuinely interested in showing the products and so enthusiastic..I bought an eyeliner even though I didn't really need to get one :) :) I don't mind the not so informed so much as long as they are honest about it and don't act all smug and snobbish.

  4. hehe, that was a good read

  5. hey , nice blog , like it ,
    won’t be nice if i u can clickover to my blog page too ,
    & post some suggestion

  6. Most of the time the SAs I meet are not the trained ones [at least not properly]. Only at Clinique and MAC I was convinced with what they adviced for me and my skin. But unlike Alice most of the SAs I've met force me to buy prods that are really expensive and when I usually go to get a lip gloss without any relevance they insist me on getting their lotion, creams ,etc

  7. This was a really good read. I feel really bad for this Alice. She is exactly what all customers want. I feel training is given the least importance, especially in India. But inspite of that there are some really good SAs out there.

  8. hey this is sooo true. it just is so annoying when the SA doesnt know her stuff,tries to make us buy more stuff and we end up buying something or the other which eventually will turn out to be summin tat we dint need at all. :(

  9. Its rare to find a good SA nowadays..and one with a proper make up knowledge is even rarer..but coincidentally I found the Maybelline SA s at 3 shopper's stop outlets pretty impressive in manner at least..

  10. I think this is the case everywhere.They don't care if we have the worst skin after using their products,they still want us to try irrelevant stuff! Nice Read, btw :)

  11. Haha..poor Alice. Yup I've experienced SAs showing me only expensive products until I ask for lower range ones. The thieves! :D

    But yeah u said it. SAs here should be trained properly...8 out of 10 know nothing



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