The number one rule in selling

Paraphrased transcript of scene at a Best Buy just a few minutes ago.

FADE IN:

INT. SALES DESK:

Sales associate: I just need a manager’s password to complete the transaction. It’s going to be $800. Just one sec.

Sales manager arrives, enters password.

Manager: Ooh, you’re not doing the extended warranty?

Me: Nope.

Manager: You know, I just spoke to a guy who bought a Sony and it gave out just after the one year warranty expired, he had to buy a whole new system.

Here we go.

Me: Really? You didn’t do him a favour and fix the broken machine you sold him?

Manager: It wasn’t broken when we sold it, and he didn’t buy the extended warranty.

Me: So you sold him a lemon and you left him to suffer for it? I’m guessing when he bought a replacement, he didn’t buy it from you.

Manager: He made the mistake of not buying the extended warranty.

Me: So what are you saying here? That this is going to break after a year?

Manager: These companies, they design these things to be replaced quickly.

Me: You’re telling me the companies that supply the product you’re selling me right now intentionally design the machines to break just after the warranty expires? Why do you still sell the products? Which companies exactly are you talking about?

Manager: They all do it.

Me: Who does it?

Manager: Look, I’m an electrical engineer, and I know, they all do.

He’s an electrical engineer working the floor at a Best Buy.

Me: So this is a piece of shit? You’re selling me a piece of shit? Why do you sell products you know will break?

Manager: No no, it’s a good machine.

Me: Uh, okay, let’s be clear on our definitions here. To me, a piece of shit is defined as something that breaks as soon as the warranty expires. Is this a piece of shit?

Manager: No…

Me: So it’s a good machine that won’t break and you’ll stand behind it.

Manager: Well..

Me: Okay, let’s put it back on the shelf. This sales guy, he’s just worked really hard to tell me it’s a great machine but clearly you’re the boss so your opinion holds more weight, and if you’re telling me it’s a piece of shit, I don’t want it.

Manager: It’s not a piece of shit.

Me: But it’ll break in a year.

Manager: Maybe it won’t.

And maybe Charlize Theron will call me for a date tomorrow.

Me: Okay, you’ve convinced me.

Manager: I have?

Me: Yep. I don’t want it if it’s going to break. Warranty or not, I don’t have time for repairs. My last machine has worked for four years, the one before that went six, if this one won’t make it past one, keep it. I’m not down. Cancel the sale. Put it back in the warehouse.

I turn and walk away.

Manager: Wait wait, it’s not that it will break, it’s just that it’s good to have protection.

Oh, see, there he said the wrong word, and it’s going to cost him.

Me: Oh, protection? Explain to me how your protection works.

Manager: Sure. It’s a good machine, don’t let me confuse you. But if it broke down after that one year, that would be terrible and cost you a lot of money. So you pay for an extended warranty and if anything happens, we protect your purchase.

Me: So what you’re saying is, ‘hey, nice machine. It’d be a shame if something happened to it. Why don’t you pay us a few hundred bucks and we’ll make sure nothing does’?

Manager: Exactly.

Me: Sir, you just described – to the letter of the law – a protection racket.

Manager: No.

Me: Yep. That’s a straight up protection racket. That’s the sort of thing mobsters threaten to people who own flower stores. “Hey, it’d sure be a shame if someone broke this window and set fire to the place. Pay me money and it won’t happen.”

Manager: No, I, uh…

Me: See, you came in thinking I was a chump and that you’d make a few coins playing on my fears, but what you’re doing here is un-selling me. You’re playing the bait and switch but it’s blown up in your face. I’ve all but bought this thing, there’s $800 in your employer’s pocket, and now you’re rolling the dice for more. It’s unseemly. It’s gross. It’s a straight fraud. You’re working me and I hate you for it.

Manager: I mean no offense.

Me: Do you know how many people make use of the extended warranty when they buy one?

Manager: I don’t have that information.

Me: I do. It’s 6%. And for that, you charge them 25% of the purchase price. If it was a good deal for me, those numbers would be switched. In fact, if it were true that all these pieces of shit were coming back to you for repair after 13 months, you’d be losing a fortune fixing them and yelling at the manufacturers to stop selling you dogshit.

Manager: I don’t know if 6% is true.

Me: Then you shouldn’t be a manager because it appears you don’t know about that, you don’t know which companies are intentionally sabotaging your products, you don’t know if this is one of those sabotaged products, but you’re really sure I should give you an extra $200 just in case something happens to my stuff.

Manager: So you don’t want the warranty then?

I go through this routine about every second time I buy something from Best Buy, which is not very often precisely because I go through this routine about every second time I buy something there.

But I know their script, and I know mine. A sales professional has to know when he’s winning, and not double down his way back to a loss.

Me: Nope. The sale is off. You’ve un-sold me. You’ve convinced me this would be a bad purchase. I’m going to keep my money and buy from someone else, and you can talk to your sales associate about how you blew all his hard work on this sale.

I turn and walk away.

Sales associate (to manager): DUDE.

The manager calls after me. I keep walking. He chases me.

Manager: Hey, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to offend you. It really is a good machine!

Me: I don’t believe you. If I buy it, I’m going to need a discount to cover the inevitable repair I’m going to have to pay for in a year.

Manager: It’s already discounted $200.

Me: And you’re going to take another $100 off.

A moment of thought.

Manager: I can do $50.

Two lessons:

  1. Never, ever take the extended warranty. It’s an absolute scam. The numbers are calculated to ensure the house always wins.
  2. When the sale is made, for the love of god, stop selling.

Disclaimer: ALWAYS DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH and consult with a licensed investment professional before making an investment. This communication should not be used as a basis for making any investment.

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