Author Topic: Salespeople question  (Read 1744 times)

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Knitterly

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Salespeople question
« on: January 20, 2013, 05:30:34 PM »
A question popped up today which thankfully remained entirely theoretical.

Mr K and I are furniture shopping.  Many of the stores we have been in are thankfully uncommissioned, so we are not pounced on when we walk in the door.  Some of them are commissioned, and it is pretty obvious when you're dealing with commissioned sales staff. 

We walked into one store today and were immediately "met" by a salesman.  Unfortunately, he smelled overwhelmingly strong of cologne/smoke/body-odor (not specifiying which of these three, as I don't feel it matters and the question may apply equally to all three).  Suffice it to say, he smelled headache-inducingly unprofessional.  Mr. K and I made a getaway by saying that we just wanted to look for now, and thank you.

We walked away.  About 10 minutes later and on the other side of the store (but still in Mr. Smell's department), we found an item that we liked enough to ask some questions about.  Unfortunately, now that we were in need of a salesperson, there was none to be found.  I tracked someone down, but he did not work in the furniture dept.  He went to find us an associate.  As he paged an associate, Mr K and I wondered what we should do if Mr. Smell should come to our aid.  We liked the furniture enough that we wanted our questions answered today, but we strongly did not want to deal with Mr. Smell.  Would it be rude to say "I am sorry, we would rather deal with someone else." Can you say why?
Would it be rude to say that "I am sorry, but the smell of cologne/smoke/other is too overwhelming.  We need to deal with someone else, please."

Fortunately, a very pleasant (and more pleasant smelling) associate came to help us, so we did not have to deal with this issue today. 

I suffer from migraines which are triggered by strong odors, especially cologne and smoke.  Mr K has an allergy to smoke and it can trigger asthma attacks.  Body odor is, of course, much more difficult to deal with, and I would think there is no polite way to address that.

Thoughts?

wheeitsme

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Re: Salespeople question
« Reply #1 on: January 20, 2013, 05:45:05 PM »
I think that it is okay to mention the migraine thing.  And it works for all but the body odor.  "I'm sorry, I understand that you have every right to smoke/wear that cologne.  Unfortunately, it's a migraine trigger for me.  And my migraines aren't pretty.  Is there someone else who can help us?  Thank you for understanding...."

Nebulous

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Re: Salespeople question
« Reply #2 on: January 20, 2013, 06:20:16 PM »
I agree with wheeitsme - you can and should request for someone else to help and it would not be rude. Perhaps play it up a bit by covering your nose and mouth with a cloth and saying something like "I'm sorry, but I'm very sensitive to strong odors and I seem to be having a bad reaction to your cologne/perfume. Would it be possible for someone else to assist us?"

I also think this would work even in cases of strong body odor - don't assume it's BO, just treat it like they are wearing a cologne or perfume. Either way, you shouldn't have to suffer due to a salesperson having a strong scent that triggers a bad reaction.

wheeitsme

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Re: Salespeople question
« Reply #3 on: January 20, 2013, 06:48:52 PM »
I agree with wheeitsme - you can and should request for someone else to help and it would not be rude. Perhaps play it up a bit by covering your nose and mouth with a cloth and saying something like "I'm sorry, but I'm very sensitive to strong odors and I seem to be having a bad reaction to your cologne/perfume. Would it be possible for someone else to assist us?"

I also think this would work even in cases of strong body odor - don't assume it's BO, just treat it like they are wearing a cologne or perfume. Either way, you shouldn't have to suffer due to a salesperson having a strong scent that triggers a bad reaction.

I hadn't thought of that! (bold and italics, mine).

citadelle

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Re: Salespeople question
« Reply #4 on: January 20, 2013, 06:50:32 PM »
If a salesperson has a reaction to a customer's smell, should s/ he politely hand that customer off to someone slse? What if it is a cashier who reacts to a customer's cologne?

Knitterly

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Re: Salespeople question
« Reply #5 on: January 20, 2013, 07:02:09 PM »
If a salesperson has a reaction to a customer's smell, should s/ he politely hand that customer off to someone slse? What if it is a cashier who reacts to a customer's cologne?

That is an interesting question, but it is not the point at all. 

First, if a salesperson has a reaction to a customer's smell, they can hand off the customer without any awkwardness at all.  They can simply say "let me find someone who can help you better."  The case of the cashier is more difficult and if one has a strong sensitivity to smells, then perhaps a job dealing with the public is a poor fit.

It is a completely different situation for the salesperson to deal with than it is for the customer.  How can a customer politely say "I don't want you to help me."  I don't know if there is a way to do this politely and unawkwardly.  Dealing with the public is an understood part of the salesperson's job.  Dealing with their smell is, I think, an unspoken part of that. 

But does a customer get to have a say in who helps them?  For example, if the sales rep were someone with whom I was on unfriendly terms were to be the salesperson who answered the call, I would also not want to deal with them and would probably leave the store. 

Hmmmmm

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Re: Salespeople question
« Reply #6 on: January 21, 2013, 11:51:54 AM »
If a salesperson has a reaction to a customer's smell, should s/ he politely hand that customer off to someone slse? What if it is a cashier who reacts to a customer's cologne?

That is an interesting question, but it is not the point at all. 

First, if a salesperson has a reaction to a customer's smell, they can hand off the customer without any awkwardness at all.  They can simply say "let me find someone who can help you better."  The case of the cashier is more difficult and if one has a strong sensitivity to smells, then perhaps a job dealing with the public is a poor fit.

It is a completely different situation for the salesperson to deal with than it is for the customer.  How can a customer politely say "I don't want you to help me."  I don't know if there is a way to do this politely and unawkwardly.  Dealing with the public is an understood part of the salesperson's job.  Dealing with their smell is, I think, an unspoken part of that. 

But does a customer get to have a say in who helps them?  For example, if the sales rep were someone with whom I was on unfriendly terms were to be the salesperson who answered the call, I would also not want to deal with them and would probably leave the store.

I agree with Knitterly.  It is much easier for a salesperson to say "I'm sorry, I'm helping another customer, let me get someone else for you."  I just don't know how happy I'd be if I was the "new" salesperson brought in to deal with smelly customer. 

Rosewater

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Re: Salespeople question
« Reply #7 on: January 21, 2013, 12:28:50 PM »
This is a business transaction, not a social one.  There is no reason you can't say that your allergies are driving you crazy and could someone help you who isn't wearing scent.  This way it's a problem you are having with yourself as opposed to anything the other person is doing.  I would think the store would prefer you do this rather than leave and not return.

If people insist on dousing themselves in cologne then they need to accept that they will be offensive to some and it may cause people to not want to be around them.  This is what happens when you don't pay attention to the details of your personal grooming. 
Always be polite, even to nasty people. Not because they are nice, but because you are.