Many are. But many are not. It is possible for selling to perform a win-win service. To spare you from having read a treatise (and me from having to write one), here are just two examples.
1. A friend who sings and plays guitar decided to pick up some home recording equipment. He arrived in the music store bent on buying the most basic device. By the time he left, he’d traded up to a more expensive recording device. He also bought two mics, mic stands and cables he hadn’t planned on. The music store salesperson upsold him, and it was a good thing. The lower-priced recording device would have required additional software and hardware at no small expense. Though its features wowed my friend, he most likely would have outgrown and wanted to replace the unit within a year. As for the mics, stands and cables? Well, you kind of need them to record voice and acoustic guitar. My friend would have been displeased to have to return to the music store to obtain them. The salesperson helped him to more satisfactory equipment, and saved him a trip. Win-win.
2. I paid my way through college selling shoes in a department store. A man came in to buy a pair of slippers for his wife. He chose the cheapest pair. I, being more of an order-taker than a salesperson, started to ring up his purchase. Then Benny intervened. He showed the customer—not quite in these terms—that the cheap slippers were junk, whereas for a few bucks more a better-made pair would last longer and please his wife more. The customer gratefully spent the extra money. Win-win.
I object when marketers abuse. But I’m all for service-oriented selling.