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Why I Like Commissioned Salespeople

Last week, my husband, Jeremiah, and I embarked on what, at least to me and frankly, most of the people I know, is one of the ickiest buying processes a person can engage in.

We went car shopping.


First, there’s the fact that I genuinely liked my old car.

I had been driving a 2011 Buick Enclave. (I know…I’m not even 40 yet and I’m crushing on a Buick.) She recently rolled over 100,000 miles and the hubby was adamant we trade it off before it lost all its trade-in value.

So as if that isn’t difficult enough, you’re faced with the overwhelming number of options, the certainty that you’re going to get hosed, and the never-ending list of things to consider when you also have children to contend with. (Car shopping would be righteously simpler without thinking about the kinds of interiors that won’t stain, how easily I can maneuver boosters and carseats, ensuring a DVD system is installed and so on and so on.)

Nevertheless, there we were.

We drove down to a local dealer to scope out two particular cars that struck our fancy on a website we’d been perusing.

When we arrived, we were greeted by the guy Jeremiah had spoken to on the phone before we left.

His name was Tommy.

We thoroughly looked over the two vehicles that Tommy had driven up for us and soon enough, we were test-driving one of them. We weren’t out of the parking lot for more than 2 minutes before Jeremiah was teasing the poor guy.

“So…you have a quota you need to fill, Tommy?”

“Sure do,” Tommy replied.

“I assume you haven’t filled it yet this month, then,” Jeremiah continues. (I’m slinking down a bit in the backseat because one thing you have to know about my husband…many people fail to get him. His humor is so dry and subtle that generally, I have to follow up most of what he says to strangers (think of servers in a restaurant here) with “Oh, he’s just kidding.”

But Tommy was a great guy. He laughed and answered honestly, “Nope, I haven’t.”

Jeremiah flashed him what I can only describe as a shit-eating grin and said, “Well, I guess that makes us the most important people in your world right now.”

When Tommy concurred, I just rolled my eyes and we carried on.

A while later, we left the dealership in one of the contender vehicles and we came upon this big sale being offered by a competing dealer.

So, yeah, we liked Tommy and all, but remember the fear of being hosed? Well, we’re not stupid.

We pulled in and were greeted by another salesman.

He immediately flashed the grin, noticed the vehicle we were driving and started out by telling us his name.

He then continued with, “I want you to understand right off the bat that we at this dealership unlike that one (names have been left out to protect the companies involved) do not work on commission. I’m paid a salary. So because I’m not incentivized by selling you a more expensive vehicle, I’ll work hard to find the right one for you, whether it costs $65,000 or $6,500.”

Now at first glance, that sounds kind of great. But I inwardly rolled my eyes because I have to tell you: this sales pitch (because that’s exactly what it is, right? A “we’re better than them for this reason” statement) doesn’t work for me.

As a consumer, I appreciate a commissioned salesperson.

When they are paid for their performance, I believe they work harder for me.

When compensation is tied to a person’s performance, you’ll experience better customer service, they’ll jump through more hoops if necessary, and they’ll be more patient as you waffle back and forth.

Finally, I tend to believe that this “feast or famine” type of environment attracts rockstars. I mean really, you’d have to be to survive it. Those that hustle are rewarded for it. To me, it’s always felt like the most equitable way to purchase something.

Maybe you disagree. Maybe you’ve actually experienced situations where the thrill of the anticipation of the sale made the salesperson sleazy, pushy, and demanding.

While it’s natural to be cautious due to that fear, especially with a large purchase like a vehicle, in truth, that has just not been my experience.

From car dealers to realtors, from financial advisors to insurance agents. I always feel like the best ones understand the critical correlation between being paid and satisfying my needs as a customer.

Only when I’m happy do I move forward with the purchase. And when I purchase, they win. I think that’s what we call a win-win.

So, I’m curious. For those of you working on commission, do you think it hinders or helps you?

And for you that are customers, are you bothered by knowing your salesperson works on commission?

Please share your stories with me in the comments.

And to wrap up our story…Tommy delivered. We have no idea how close he is to making his monthly quota but after all the time and effort he spent helping us, I am thrilled to know he’s closer because of us.

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