Top Down Sales Approach Gone Painfully Wrong: My Friend’s Story

by Tanya August 25, 2014

My friend, who wanted to stay anonymous, works in a high street shoe shop. The management is training all their floor staff (about 1000 of them in the UK) into a terrifying army of highly trained sales ninjas who will say and do anything to try to part you from your money.

As a result, in any of the stores you walk in, you can expect to be greeted and treated, in exactly the same way.

They are all given the same script and step-by-step tactics, that they have to follow if they want to keep their £5,80 per hour jobs.

It doesn’t end with the script …

They ALWAYS have to bring two extra pairs of shoes with them, in case the customer doesn’t like the original pair they asked to try on.

This has put Mike (name changed) into some uncomfortable situations: “Some regulars, have noticed this technique used by all of us and asked me not to bring anything else on my return. Other people, when feeling pushed, simply return everything and walk out. I don’t blame them”

Not only must they bring extra shoes, but they also have to grab two bags that go with the shoes.

“I usually stumble carrying these huge boxes without seeing a thing … and again my script goes:

Let me help you to try them on. Wow, that looks amazing! You should try that with these white shoes too, and look at this cute bag! I’ll just get you a pair of shoes to go with it, size 6, right? My name’s Mike, do let me know if you need anything at all.”

This new pushy sales approach ensures people in the UK to spend less, not more. Brits are far more reserved than Americans, so importing US-style service just doesn’t work over here. The hard sell doesn’t come naturally, so it feels fake, and customers find it intrusive and intimidating to be constantly bombarded with information and attention.

The high street might think high-pressure sales tactics drives profit, I actually think it drives customers elsewhere.


Mike loves interacting with people and believes that he’s capable of instinctively knowing which people need some pushing and which doesn’t. One script cannot be applied to all! If management would ask their staff for feedback and suggestion, it’d make more money.

“By applying the same unnatural approach for all their staff, makes customers notice and run in the opposite direction. But management doesn’t know it, they are not interested.”

The old tricks and top down sales approach don’t work. Customers are intelligent and hate being sold to. For better results, ask your staff for feedback, trust their intuition and let them talk and connect freely.

Create a pleasant working environment, customers will notice and appreciate it.

Read about Facebook Bottom Up work culture in my previous post.

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The first Millennial blogger in the UK. Twitter @_luckyattitude

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