A Year of Lying by Samantha Thurman

When people think of Smoothie King they think of nutrition, health, and losing weight. It’s not exactly the same for the people who work there. My coworkers and I used to joke about how our job is not to sell smoothies or get people to buy our products, it is to lie from the moment we step into the store to the moment we walk out. Why do we lie? To get customers to spend more money of course, and that is what they do.

One week in particular stands out when I think of the year I spent at Smoothie King, the week before I left for college. We had gotten a new smoothie called the Lean One that we were trying to sell. The product was just protein powder, water, and ice. Makes your mouth water right? Not exactly, and we knew that when we tried to sell the product to people. Insert lie number one. When someone comes in and asks “How is this new Lean One smoothie? What does it do? Does it even taste good?” team members tend to jump to it. Pointing out all the nutritional facts and saying what a healthy meal replacement it is followed by “Plus it is delicious! Just try adding peanut butter to it!” and people do. What they do not realize is the product is okay at best with peanut butter or whatever other extra we conned them into buying,  and we made them pay extra for a smoothie they probably are going to want to spit right back out once they taste it. Yet they don’t because they paid roughly six dollars for it and we convinced them it’s better than any dinner they could have made for themselves nutrition wise. People don’t even think twice and when we ask them “How do you like it?” most will respond “You were right! This is awesome, I’m going to get this every time from now on.” Mission accomplished, lie accomplished. We were able to make people pay extra money for a twenty ounce smoothie that tastes really bad and we know it and yet people will come back and keep paying for it. Customers will also keep adding  extra things like peanut butter that make the smoothie unhealthy and defeat the purpose of buying the Lean One, but they don’t care.

So now you know that we lie and that it works on a lot of people that come in the store. But what makes people fall for the lies we spout out on a daily basis? Why do people spend more money on already expensive smoothies that will leave them hungry in an hour? The answer is we are good at our job of lying. We have the facts, we have the trustworthy smile, and we have the edge in the situation. When people walk into the store in workout clothes and they are ready to order a smoothie, after they have chosen the one they want we will ask “Would you like to add any enhancers like energy or pre-workout to your smoothie?” Bam. We just covered both of the two possible scenarios the customer came from. They have either come from working out and need some energy to make it through the rest of their busy day or they are on their way to the gym and need something to help make their workout more effective. If they inquire about the enhancers we rattle off facts like “The energy supplement is stimulant free so it won’t keep you awake all night but it will certainly help you power through the rest of your day.” Or we will say “The pre-workout helps your workout be more effective and the guys that take it here before they go to the gym say it really works.” You see,  we have analyzed them once they have walked into the store already trying to figure out exactly what enhancer we could sell them. That is the edge I was talking about.

Now onto how trustworthy we are. People buy extras to put into their smoothies because we are there to help them. We are not trying to get them to spend more money, don’t be absurd, we are simply trying to help them get that energy they need or lose that extra five pounds. We are there every day so we are familiar to people, they know our names. We drink the smoothies so we obviously know which ones taste good and we would never lie to people right? Wrong. Most of those things are true but it is our job to sell the extras or the products so we will put the money before the customer. That is not the personality we give off though. We stand there and tell people the best option for whatever they are looking to do whether that be “trimming down” or “shaping up” and we do it all happily. We will answer any questions customers have to the best of our knowledge. If someone comes in and asks if the Lean One smoothie really works and will help them lose weight, we will show them the brochures we have sitting out about the product. We will tell them what it says while pointing out the before and after pictures and the testimonies in the brochures. We will start by saying the ingredients in the product and how they will help the guest reach their goal weight. Then, we will move on to the diet that person would want to follow depending on what exactly their goals are, because the diet is customizable. After that, we would wrap it up by giving them two coupons, one for the tub of protein so they can mix it themselves at home and one for the smoothie so they can try it and figure out what flavor they would like the best. If the customer still doesn’t seem too convinced we may start saying how it’s cheaper to buy this product than going out to lunch for work. Also we may say “Look at all the variety in the tub flavors, if you don’t like the smoothies you are bound to like one of these flavors.” Then the guest is hooked and wants to buy one of the products because we took the time to answer their questions and customized our selling points for them. We have given them our undivided attention and we have given them coupons. That makes it easier for them to buy it because we have made it seem special and that is why customers are willing to spend the extra dollar. They will pay more because they trust us.

Finally, the easiest way to make people buy our products is we memorize facts. We have sheets of facts hanging up in the back of the store that we read when we have down time. We also have posters or brochures that can back up what we say to people. We can bring them out and hand them one while we talk or we can simply point at them as we say them. If people ask questions we spit out and explain the facts they want to hear. The facts are the easy way out in my opinion. Anyone can learn the information and recite it to people in order to sell the products. It is the other approaches that make people buy the product in the end. People like to have attention and feel like they’re important, so if you can sell them something in that way they are more likely to drop some money.

Looking back on my last week, I realize now just how much my coworkers and I lie. It makes me think about other food places or stores and how we subconsciously walk into their traps. We listen to what they have to say and ask them questions. We believe their answers because they are trustworthy and they are the experts. It makes you think about how people use rhetoric to sell products. A lot of people are just as sneaky about it as the Smoothie King workers because they have had a lot of experience. It just makes you think how many times have I been conned into paying extra money because of a smart rhetorician?