Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Hermeneutics on Sales Talk

A walk down the Orchard Road or any other busy commercial mall, you will find yourself being approached by people who tell you that they are conducting a survey or asking for opinions of the current Bank's interest rate for savings. And most of such encounters are sales initiated. If to put a number to this, 9.9 out of 10 times are all methods devised by sales executives. The last time I had such encounter was at Toa Payoh interchange yesterday.

Being an 'insider', I know why certain questions are asked. Take the most common ones: If you are young, these executives will ask, "Are you working or studying?" If your accent or looks doesn't fit the typical Singaporean slang or image, you will be asked, "Are you a local or foreigner?"

Both of these questions are important questions in the business. The former is meant to find out what is your economic status; whether do you have purchasing power. The second question is to see if you can enter into a contract with them. If you are a foreigner and not planning to stay in Singapore for long, then very likely you are not a potential customer.

If in the survey form where you have to put in your income category (for eg. $1000-2500 per month), then it is to find out how much purchasing power do you have. If you are asked how much do you save per month, it is to see what plan can they propose to you. And usually they want your contact number to follow-up on you.

The one unusual encounter, which I think interesting, is when I was at Bugis Junction. I was rushing to an event when a female sales executive popped out in the middle of the crowd with a big, "Hi!", and then followed by, "Haven't see you for a while. Do you remember me?'. And I have never met her!

I remember an interesting remark made by Chee Seong, a friend who was an industrial sales executive, on another Sze Yih, another friend who is an insurance sales executive. Chee Seong said that whenever Sze Yih says something like how good his business is, that means he is hiring people to work for him. Whenever he says that his business is bad, that means he wants you to sign up some policies with him.

Though there are some truth in that, I would caution that we should not see our friend in that way. Who knows he is really sharing his life's facets with us when he talks about his business.

Lastly, whenever you are being approached by a sales executive, and if you have time, you might want to spare some minutes for them. Who knows that they, in return, able to provide you with a helpful and good product that you need (for eg. for retirement or medical fees). Many people, be it city dwellers or villagers, are helped through these executives.

What other approaches have you encountered before?

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