Having spent three years working different sales jobs, here are some of the funny stories that made me realise being a salesperson isn’t that bad.
Hong Kong is known for being a paradise for shoppers and food lovers – from indie fashion to luxury restaurants and hotel spas – and that’s why there are always job vacancies in sales and customer service. It’s no surprise that customer care jobs are said to be “the hardest easy jobs”: you’ve got to smile and be proactive 24/7, never talk back (even if the customer is being unreasonable), let alone night shifts and random hours. But despite the bad reputation, part of me still thinks working in retail sales is quite an interesting and rewarding experience, so here are the reasons why I loved being a salesperson in Hong Kong.
Reasons why I loved (or didn’t hate) being a salesperson in Hong Kong
1. You’ve got funny stories up your sleeves all the time
Yes, many customers are nasty and rude but you’ll never get bored with all these ridiculous stories. To name a few examples: one customer asked me to forge a receipt for him so he could charge extra when he re-sold those items back in mainland China, and when we refused to do that, he threatened to never come back (which we were happy to hear); another customer came in and got mad at us for not letting him light up a cigarette indoors (at a clothes shop!); one customer visited the store every day just to relentlessly hit on one of our colleagues. And the list goes on.
2. Turn customers into friends
I’m not talking about becoming casual acquaintances, but actual close friends. When I was working at a cruelty-free cosmetic shop, I was lucky enough to meet a like-minded Australian on travel who happens also to be a vegan and a big indie music fan. After spending an hour bonding over mutual interests and product knowledge, we exchanged contact details. Six months later she invited me to her home in Melbourne – in my head there was no way she could be a serial killer (right?) – I flew over there and stayed for two weeks. Three years later, we now still consider ourselves as each others’ evil twin sister. You never get to know who you’re going to meet, and that’s why I like being a salesperson in Hong Kong.
3. Enjoy employee discounts and all the damaged/new products you get to take home
This speaks for itself. The nicest deal I got as an employee is to get fifty per cent off of everything, it was pretty awesome. And whenever there are new products, you’ll be the first one to try them out.
4. All the gossip and sex scandals that you might hear
This only happens if you work in a big corporate. The amount of sex scandals you get to hear is outrageous(ly juicey) and the relationship map is just as complicated as Westworld’s. Like that time when the guy from the women’s department (who lived off of his rich girlfriend) was not-so-secretly sleeping with the girl from the kid’s department, everyone soon referred to the girl as Mrs. Whatever-the-guy’s-last-name-is – brutal. The elephant in the room made everything so awkward yet hilarious. Shame on me for making this one of the reasons, but these kinds of drama are better than any trashy reality TV shows.
5. You get to hand out compliments without sounding freaky
These days it’s easy for us to give criticism instead of compliments to people around us. One of the top rules of good salesmanship is to let customers feel good about themselves – and one easy step to do it is by handing out your genuine compliments (though never saying stuff you don’t actually mean). The more you do it naturally, the more you find out how simple it’s to make someone’s day – and it honestly feels nice to see someone smile because of what you said. It might not be common for people to say nice things to each other all the time, but that’s also why I enjoyed being a salesperson in Hong Kong.
6. You learn to be proactive and take rejection
They said tindering is how you learn to take rejection, well, it’s the same for being a salesperson. It sucks when customers turn down your offer, but you learn how not to let past rejection get in your way and move on to your next target.
Failure is your middle name, and you’re proud to own it – perhaps the most important takeaway from being a salesperson in Hong Kong, or, indeed anywhere.