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The seven deadly sins of mobile retail sales

SMS Text News reader, Ben Harvey, documents the seven deadly sins of mobile retail sales. Can you recognise them?

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10042007321I do love going into mobile phone outlets on the high-street. The same alluring smells that float out of your favourite restaurant, of your favourite car, the smells that relax you? Well, for me, it’s that combined stink of hair-gel and desperation that I most savour when shopping for handsets. Makes me feel at home.

‘Can I help you…sir?”

Every time I hear that I love it. That first line, that opener, that oyster-knife into your wallet. Every time I hear it I can’t help but think of the wood behind the spear, the lessons that the sales staff must’ve had in Travelodges, sat in drone-rows, chugging back dinky bottles of Buxton whilst some dispirited Regional Training Leader (or whatever the poor sap happens to have on his CV. Whatever their job title is now you can reasonably sure that it wasn’t also the subject of ‘What I Want To Be When I Grow Up By Brett Edgby Aged Seven”) uses Blairish hand-gestures whilst telling them how to flog contracts.

It’s a cliché, but there really are seven deadly sins to the world of face-to-face mobile sales. If you’re lucky I might one day write the flipside, the ten commandments, but for now, here’s where every single network is getting it wrong…

1. Hair gel
I’m not sure why this is, but every commission-chasing eijit with a name-badge and a sneer also comes complete with a barnet coated in product. The only rational explanation for this universal marker is perhaps that – like Foxtons staff all singing the National Anthem at the start of the working day (the roiling tide of patriotism takes the edge off of conspiring with their buyers’ financial advisers, apparently) – all the boys in these stores line up in front of a communal mirror at 08:55am and have a bonding session over the Fudge.

2. Have a really tiny shop
This is a classic. The retail outlets that people find indispensable – Boots, Marks & Spencer, Anne Summers – have enormous stores. Lavish amounts of square-footage, sat squatly in High Streets all over this green and pleasant land. Yet a lot of the network stores you see are tiny – just about as wide as the shop banner over the front door. The price of retail property can’t be that much of a factor, given the Big Four’s predilection for haemorrhaging cash like it was going out of style. The reason, dear reader, for the fact that some network stores are so small is that they’re only really ever stocking two (2) handsets that they actually want to sell you. One will be designed by Italians and then encrusted with heroin-coated diamonds, one sale of which will earn your sales-monkey enough commission to get slotted on Jägermeister every day for a month. The other handset is the new-but-cheap model that they want to sell lots of, to paupers. And you don’t really need a huge number of aisles for that approach, now, do you.

3. Suits and boots
Again, it’s a mystery why the retail staff of every mobile phone shop you go into are dressed like the bastard offspring of Reggie Cray and his letting agent. Suits so new that, in their breast pockets, you can still see the outline of that little packet of buttons that Moss Bros. kindly supplied them, like the condom poking a ring on one side of their wallets. Both smack slightly of unworldlyness and are bound to result, one day, in a feckless boy getting confused and sewing himself into his Durex. Playing devil’s advocate, though, you do have to have new suits if you’re in that line of trade, if only because you’re going through puberty and as such the length of your arms and legs changes on a weekly basis.

4. Crazy, crazy marketing
Brilliant. In this day and age, now that we have no market-breaking economic slumps, no society-collapsing pandemics and no cataclysmic World Wars we only, apparently, have one thing left to put backbone in our young men, to fortify them with pluck and character and doughy John Bull toughness. And that is to put them in a costume, on the pavement, with a stack of flyers in their hands and desperation in their blood. An undeniable rule of business is that good product sells itself – it doesn’t need Jamiroquai playing a concert on a 747.

…that, by the way, was an opportunity missed – next time, PR boys, don’t give the plane as much fuel as it needs to get across the Atlantic. Imagine the column-inches then…

5. Be a shit
‘Hello” says the frazzled mother, out shopping on a rainy Tuesday. ‘I just need some more texts so I can keep in contact with Daryl, my youngest, whilst he’s in Borstal”. Now, we’ve all seen it, but there is no word in the English language to truly describe the expression that passes over the face of your common-or-garden sales boy when he hears something like that. It’s the look of someone who finds an unaccountable twenty-pound note in their pocket when doing the laundry. The look of a Manchester United fan when Evra punched the 7th goal in against a pack of feckless Italians (and the crowd started chanting ‘are you City in disguise?”). The look on George W. Bushes’ face when they let him stay up late to watch Sesame Street – mix those three together and you’ll see that epiphany of potential, that almost loving look they give an idiot about to be parted from their money.

6. If you’re a store manager, be a bigger shit
Five words: Alec, Baldwin, Glengarry, Glen, Ross.

7. Would you like fries with that?
Upsell. Someone walks into your shop wanting a new handset on a cheap contract; you bolt on, throw in or barter some minutes, some texts, some bandwidth, even one of those faux-leather & Perspex sheaths (that, for some reason, always scream ‘socks with sandals”). Anything, anything, so long as it increases the cash, that feeds that sacred turnover. Why they do this with phones but not with other products, other industries, is beyond me. How long before your builder gets infected? ‘Would you like a shed with that?”. Or your local vicar; ‘How about we sign you up for Buddhism, too? Just in case you roam in a country with patchy Christian coverage”. Buy one, get one free? Bog off…

…and they wonder why so many packages are being sold over the internet these days; perhaps it’s something to do with not hearing any sniggering from the back of the store as you punch in your PIN. But there we go. Never mind; don’t let them make you angry. Don’t show bitterness or impatience to these weak and credulous creatures. Just think – next time you’re stood in a store, asking something vaguely technical and being answered with blank-eyed incomprehension – just think; what else could they be doing…?

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Fantastic! Thank you for sending that in, Ben!

8 replies on “The seven deadly sins of mobile retail sales”

[…] The seven deadly sins of mobile retail sales – SMS Text News: Anything, anything, so long as it increases the cash, that feeds that sacred turnover. Why they do this with phones but not with other products, other industries, is beyond me. How long before your builder gets infected? “Would you like a shed with that?”. Or your local vicar; “How about we sign you up for Buddhism, too? Just in case you roam in a country with patchy Christian coverage”.     […]

Good call on the size of the shops! Most of them have those trendy bar stools designed by “uber-cool” designers that are less comfortable than Ikea furniture.

When they sat me down to complete a sale I couldn’t help but feel I was going to be strapped in and have crazy sales-pitch experiments conducted on me (involving hair gel!)

Seemingly so, sounds more like a whiny rant than anything. Seven deadly sins? More like seven minutes of wasted time that you cost me for reading this junk.

And before you get your pants are frailed up, no , I am no mobile advocate, I can care less wutsoeva but time after time, theres bunch of little girlies like you, who come along and complain about everything and anything.

Dont like the store? No problem, dont shop. Tired of the marketing, no big deal, just walk along buddy. your useless examples and comparisons are illogical being you point out the exact reason of..

you see, because the internet was made for convenience, so when you stated a customer wants to go online to avoid a salesmen, uh.. DUH , we got a genious here.

Upsell? Selling? What? Features and add-ons, whats going on here, oh thats right, according to the defined justification, a salesman’s job is to “make” money, why of course they going to “try” to sell you something, good lord thats a sin. Who wouldve expected that , huh foolio?

alright im done with you, next article you should write is the seven deadly sins of ricky retardo customers like you , Mr. Harvey Moron.

Phones 4 U are definitely the worst. Their salespeople make my skin crawl most of the time, especially when they set up a table outside the store and walk around harassing people to come in a get a contract. No I do *not* want your crappy Samsung – if I did I'd walk into the the store and ask for it!

Hi, I actually work in mobile retail and can assure you we are not all like that (just the bad ones). I prefer to treat customers like human beings and be honest with them. Admittedly I have worked with people who do absolutely cringeworthy things (such as upselling things customers blatently don't want) but most are just normal, chilled out people. And it's actually the other way around.. Rather than selling the most expensive handset.. More comission is made on selling cheap handsets on high contracts. P.s. Phones4u are the worst.. And extremely dodgy!… Everyone in the industry knows this and laughs at them…

i also work in mobile sales for T-Mobile. I got into the job not for the money but to share what I know with other people. Something simple like showing someone how they can video call or send a photo to a family member they have not seen in ages can make you feel happy in your job whether you sold something or not. There are people who are money money money and not naming any stores… we all know who they are.

i also work in mobile sales for T-Mobile. I got into the job not for the money but to share what I know with other people. Something simple like showing someone how they can video call or send a photo to a family member they have not seen in ages can make you feel happy in your job whether you sold something or not. There are people who are money money money and not naming any stores… we all know who they are.

i also work in mobile sales for T-Mobile. I got into the job not for the money but to share what I know with other people. Something simple like showing someone how they can video call or send a photo to a family member they have not seen in ages can make you feel happy in your job whether you sold something or not. There are people who are money money money and not naming any stores… we all know who they are.

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