How Phones4u Salespeople Cleverly Coax Customers

What’s the collective noun for phone salespeople? A posse? A squadron? A mercenary?

This question passed my mind as I plugged in my pin number at the local branch of Phones4U.

As with all post-rationalisation, I can tell myself now that I came away with a good deal on my phone, but nevertheless it was interesting to see the techniques at play by a company that has optimised getting relative strangers to part with cash.


To give context, I was in the market for a new phone. I knew the model, and the rough price I’d be willing to pay for one. Phones4U were the fourth (and last) phone shop that I visited that afternoon, and so where applicable I’ll offer comparison.

phones4u shop

phones4u shop


Entering the shop

The shopfloor was near saturated with salespeople roaming their territory. Some were bopping to the high BPM music in the background. I approached the till and the manager caught my eye, dropped his conversation, and came around to meet me.

The others I encountered had either not had the staff to assist, allowed me to wander in and out without an interaction, or remained behind the desk answering my questions. As a customer entering a phone shop, my outlook is that the ball is in the shop’s court to start a conversation.


Opening interaction

This was the key move. Barely milliseconds after the answer to “How can I help?” had left my lips, I was invited to take a seat at one of their stations, and told that an assistant will be on her way to answer my questions.

Great move. This now felt like a commitment of both of our times. Though I came in the store less than half a minute ago to ask what the price of one of their phones is, the second I sat down there was a shift in expectations (at least in my head) that I was now here to complete a transaction.

The other shops diligently answered my questions from the behind the till/ when standing next to the array of phones.


“Me too!!”

Who would’ve guessed it – my saleswoman also broke her phone quite soon after getting a contract?! And so she could really relate to me needing to get a new handset. The one I’d chosen was a great choice.

Maybe I’m being cynical, but I guess this was intended to make me feel more comfortable with buying the phone I was.


Crouching Manager, Hidden Charges

Though my whole transaction was done fairly swiftly (I knew the model I wanted, and the price that other shops were charging; there’s being the lowest), I could still see some of the other techniques used by other sellers in the shop:

  • Writing down a price, and then scribbling it out for a lower one 
  • ‘Checking’ if they had any of the handsets available “you’re lucky – this looks like the last one…”
  • Calling over the manager who’d squat down and explain how they could make a deal for them for today only

The lady I was chatting with gave me an ‘insider tip’ to take the free SIM card that came with the phone (despite not really needing it), because I could choose an Orange one and get 2-for-1 Wednesdays. This was another way of giving value in the transaction, and have affinity towards them.


Sweets at checkout

This was the one that stood out for me. At the checkout I was asked if I wanted a sweet.

Sweetening the deal...

Sweetening the deal…

I’m not sure how calculated it was, but it was visible to everyone in the shop that there were sweets by the Chip & Pin machine, with (I guess) the implication that they were reserved solely for those who bought something.

Even more gobsmacking were the Samsung Galaxy branded lollies.

I was wondering whether this was an after-sale surprise, or whether it came into the sales pitch at all?

On the fence about the Galaxy S4? How about some blue sugar on a stick, will that sway ya?

Whatever the reasons, it would be interesting to see what ROI the Samsung Sales Team attribute to those lollies.


Goodbye walk

Now, once the money had metaphorically exchanged hands with my purchase, the lady bagged up my phone, kept a hold of it, and then walked me to the door. After thanking me for the purchase, she handed over the bag and wished me the best for it.

I can’t recall another shopping experience when the cashier has done that, and I thought it was a good way to close the whole interaction.



I was then out of the shop, all in all happy with the experience. A couple of years ago I had a slightly dodgy Phones4U experience (given cash in hand with no paper trail for buying up a contract), but the whole operation felt very slick, that I was wondering who much this had come from above.

In either case, they succeeded where 3 other shops had failed, so it seems fair to give them my business.