Sales Promoter At 16 – One Of The Best Jobs I Had

I know it might sound weird if I told anyone that one of the best jobs I had was working as a Sales Promoter when I was 16, but that’s the truth. It’s because that job didn’t just help me and my family get by financially, but it also taught me very important lessons about people and values that I will treasure for the rest of my life.

How It Started

I started working as a part time sale promoter at Parkson departmental store at the age of 16 after school hours, from 6pm – 10pm daily and would also work there on all the weekends and school holidays from 10am – 10pm. Initially my idea was just to earn some pocket money after completing my Form 3 final exams. I never planned to continue working there when school reopened, and somehow I worked there for almost 2 years till  just a few moths before my Form 5 SPM exam.

Yes, it’s true that my family had some financial difficulties, but they never asked me to carry on working there or even ask me to find money. It was purely my decision and it just felt good knowing that I can help them. Plus, I have to say that I enjoyed having the extra money for my own shopping too!

Can A 16 Year Old Be Good At 'Sales'?

Obviously at that time I didn’t really understand what sales was all about. But somehow, I was good at it. You see, there were times I could make a few thousand ringgit sales (MYR) in just 2 hours selling MYR20 – MYR30 items (that’s equivalent to a $5 – $9 item). 

Now, I never ‘pushed’ for sales, nor I didn’t know how to anyway. And at that time, part time promoters like me weren’t paid any commissions, so clearly money wasn’t my motivation. 

To be honest, I didn’t quite understand it myself back then. However, I do remember some customers saying things like they only came in to buy 1 item, but because they like how they were treated, they bought more.  

“I like your service” or “I like you” – These were some of the kind words I would often hear customers say to me.

Back in those days, I still remember when I went into some shops and quite often how I would see these ‘sales promoters’ with either a sulky, annoyed or even angry face, and of course there’s also ‘the tone’ and how unpleasant the shopping experience made me feel.

And so when I became a sales promoter, I made a promised to myself to always smile and treat everyone with respect. I believed that the customers felt my sincerity and I do try to be as helpful as I can in assisting them. The truth was, that was the only thing I did and that was enough to bring the sales up.

Thinking about it, I believe it’s their kind words that motivated me to keep doing my job better too!

When You Are Wanted

In serving customers the best I can, I don’t ‘play around’ like some of the other part timers who took the job just to kill time after the Form 3 exams. Maybe that’s what made my friend, who was the same age as me asked “Why do you bother working so hard? The company only hire us to make sure nobody steals the goods. You don’t have to work so hard”.

I didn’t quite know how to reply that question but the only thing that popped out my mouth was “Because we were paid to do this job”. And that was really how I felt. When I was given a salary or paid to do something, it becomes my responsibility to do the job the best I can.

Obviously my friend left the job when the school reopened. 

On my 16th birthday

By this time I had gained a reputation as ‘the best part timer’ because of the sales I was making for the brand’s company. In case you didn’t know, each sales promoter were paid directly by the brand’s company, not the departmental store.

And so I had all these other brands trying to ‘pinch’ and get me to work for them as well. I have to admit, it does feel good when you’re wanted. It feels even better when you can start asking for a higher salary which I did get and I became the highest paid partimer at that time.

Sure, it wasn’t like I was making tons of money. But I did feel proud of myself because with that extra income I could afford to pay for my own SPM exam fees, my younger brother’s school fees, and I even had extra money for my shopping too.

The Fondest Memory

I was in the swimwear department and one day a lady came in to look at the swimsuits. I asked how may I help her and a few other things and I pointed out to her the latest swimwear designs. She didn’t answer much. I always knew better that some people do not like to talk much and so I gave her some space to look around and just stood smiling while waiting for her to respond.

All of a sudden she said ‘I used to love swimming but I just had my breast removed during surgery and now I can’t wear swimsuits anymore’. I felt the pain in her words and my heart must have stopped for a few seconds.

Then all of a sudden, I thought of an idea. You see, we had these paddings that we sell separately, and some of the swimsuits had insertion areas where you can remove or change the paddings if needed. 

And so I said ‘I know, what if we use 3 layer of these paddings with the swimsuit. Let’s try it’. I inserted the paddings, she tried the swimsuit on and it worked. She was really happy. And so was I to see her that way. But what she said next was something I can never forget… 

She said to me “I wished there were more people like you”.

Final Words...

Working as a Sales Promoter was one of the best jobs I had because it taught me a very important lesson in life at a young age – be sincere and do the best you can in everything you do. It will change your life and just maybe the life of others around you too!

“EXPERIENCES from our youth
SHAPE what we do later in Life"

- Jan Koum