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Speaking of Great Salespeople: How to Help Them Help You


Remember great salespeople and learn how to reach them.

Knowing great salespeople in your favorite department stores is a good idea, and the good ones love finding new clients. I will want help again from several people who helped me Monday; this will save me time, and help them get sales. Macy's telephone system allows you to dial into any department in the store, so if you can remember the first name of your salesperson, once you dial into that department, you can ask for them. After you have narrowed down which department you want from the voice menu, you can narrow further by many brands. At this point, Macy's voice system will repeat the four-digit extension it is connecting you to, so if you make a note of that as well, you now have a first name and an extension, and can basically reach who you need directly.

Think how valuable this is in a huge city like New York.

Redirect your shopping to them whenever possible.

My advice, if you want really great help, is to be sure to give these salespeople a chance to fill any future need you have in their product category (I now know where to call for men's accessories and dress pants and fragrances, for example). If you are buying anyway, why not buy from them?

You are spending money to buy things anyway. Buy what works and remember what fails.

Use their time wisely.

My second piece of advice to get really great help is to use their time wisely. You don't have to pull them away from customers in the store, just identify yourself (first and last name, you sold me such-and-such and it is great), and give them a chance to call back if they are with someone. You can also leave your name and number with whoever picks up the phone, and ask that they pass the message along.

Often salespeople work certain days and hours, so if you know this, call (or plan trips to the store) on days they are working. Follow their lead, and cooperate with the approach that works best for them. They know how to be successful for you.

Give them a timeframe (an open one if possible), as this will signal it is okay for them to get your number and find what you need in their less busy time. Then when you are in a hurry (I really could have used some help around Christmas when I had a signing gig I needed clothes for), you will have built the trust you need for them to drop what they are doing if they can, or find a colleague who can help if they cannot. This only works if they know you really are a buyer, so this is another good reason to respect their time and give them repeat business.

Good people are more effective when you respect their time.

Remind them what they helped you buy.

If you remember the specific items you like (for example, I now know what over-the-calf socks are good for me, and which kind of briefs fit me), it makes it easier for both of you. If they don't have it in stock at their location, they can probably fill the order anyway and have it shipped to you for free from another store, or held at their store for pickup.

Think of it this way: You have just spent four hours in Macys' finding 3 or 4 or 5 things you really need. Chances are, you will need the same items again. If these purchases worked out well, you never need to spend time shopping for them again. Ever. Since you now know the size, color, style and brand you like, a phone call can get them to you.

Stop spending time making the same purchases over and over.

Real shoppers get real perks.

Another big bonus: A good salesperson who has accepted you as a client will call you when things go on sale, and new items they think you will like, and when they have special promotions, like a gift with purchase. Help each other.

Stores don't give cheapskates freebies.

Shop for a salesperson, not just a product.

My biggest piece of advice: When you have to visit a place like Macy's, and expect that it will cost you a good chunk of your time, while you shop for your items, remember to shop for a salesperson as well. While you are noting the products and learning new areas of the store, do the same with the staff. Be pleasant, be easy to work for, be patient, and be gracious and generous with your thanks. You will find some real helpful people, even on the days (like last Monday for me) when you wonder whether you will get any help at all.


  • While you shop for things you need, shop for a salesperson as well.

  • Note your successful purchases in the store, including sizes. (For example, in Jockey boxer briefs, I am a 44-46 2XL; in Hugo Boss Bottled United Eau de Parfum, I am a size 200ml.)

  • Get the first names of salespeople who help you.

  • Call back to thank them using the store's phone system. Identify yourself by first and last name, and what they helped you with. They will appreciate it and you will then (perhaps) have their extension.

  • If one offers to take you as a client, accept.

  • If they have not offered to take you as a client, ask if it is okay to call them when you need something. The serious ones will give you their direct extension and hours.

  • If you do have an immediate need and/or are ready to buy, ask, 'When you have some time, could you help me find such-and such?"

  • Be ready to give them product details.

  • Let them know it is okay to call back if they are with someone.

  • At this point, they will pick up the ball and run with it, and give you a sense of how they prefer to work. Let them use that approach whenever you can.

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