That is Why Salespeople Have a Bad Name
January 6th, 2020
Several months ago, I was contacted by an organization about doing an interview with them. It was a group I had never heard of, but they included links to some of the interviews they had recently done. Of course, I viewed them and honestly thought they were decent. Before agreeing to participate, I emailed the company back asking about the value, for them, of my participation. It appeared that several of the interviews that I watched were from organizations much larger than FUN Enterprises, but when I questioned this, they told me they were looking for a wide cross section of organizations. Okay then, why not?
Unfortunately, the timing was bad, and the information was sent to me right at the beginning of the conference season, so it was shoved to the back burner. Attending conferences, doing follow up and doing the day to day business that needed attention left no room for an interview. What I didn’t realize at the time is that they sent the questions and I needed to simply record my answers when I had the chance. Almost weekly, I would get a reminder that my interview was still incomplete and unsubmitted. Finally, I responded that perhaps I should be removed from their list. I did get a response, letting me know that all the emails I was getting were being automatically sent by their system. They encouraged me to complete the interview at my convenience and send it to them.
When I had a break, I reviewed the questions, bullet pointed and practiced my responses, so I’d appear natural, in other words, I put some time and effort into it. They kept insisting in the emails that I would have fun with this. Clearly, their idea of fun and mine are different. Fun is not how I would describe doing these. It took about 45 minutes with multiple takes before I was satisfied. Here is when it all went south. As soon as I completed said interview, a page popped up asking me which promotions package I would be most interested in. Without the promotions package, very few people would ever see my interview but for as little as 50 Euros, yep Euros, they would be happy to promote it to more people. If you assumed that there was going to be a string of emails to follow, give yourself a gold star. Several emails arrived complimenting me on the quality of my interview and encouraging me to purchase one of these very affordable promotional options.
Why did I waste all that time on what amounted to a sleazy sales pitch? Granted it was in many ways brilliant, after putting all that work in why wouldn’t I want to promote it? For years, I didn’t ever think of myself, or describe myself, as a salesperson. There was always a negative connotation attached to that line of work and organizations like this continue to reinforce that stereotype. Several years ago, I finally embraced the fact that I was, indeed, a salesperson and that was not a bad thing. When information on value added propositions was put out, I was even more comfortable with it. A value-added proposition is the value to the buyer’s organization from doing business with the seller. We are, in fact, often in the position of helping people solve problems and that I can live with.
Over time, I have been exposed to a variety of tactics that I consider less than ethical. We get calls all the time from organizations asking to speak to me over the phone. When asked, by the people answering the phones, what the call is regarding, they are told that I will know. When I answer the call, it is often to try and sell me stocks from a company I have never heard of. AC and I have taken sales courses that have advocated that when leaving a voicemail message, we should hang up in the middle of it, to make the person you are trying to reach think that you got cut off. In theory, when you call back, the individual you wanted to speak to is more likely to take your call. Or how about the “I am heading out of the country and need to speak to them immediately.” Some courses even advocate threatening whoever answers the phone with if they are not put through, their job may be in jeopardy.
Suffice it to say, these are not techniques I have ever employed, nor do I ever intend to. Sales, for me, in many respects, is problem solving. Hopefully the individual on the other end of the phone or email has a problem that we can help with. Perhaps they are struggling with keeping employees or keeping them happy, maybe attendance at events is suffering or they need training to improve their board or organization. Sales is always better if the outcome is beneficial to both parties. Remember, if you have a problem that you think we can help solve, we are here for you. Fear not, we won’t be employing those less than savory techniques on you, we just want to help.
About the author
For much of his career Ken Abrahams has been self-taught. His mom always said that honesty is the best policy and that is the path he has chosen to follow. He is a little bit of a dinosaur because he still believes that the phone is the best tool to establish a solid relationship with a client. If you ever have a question, give him a call, send him an email, or feel free to use an owl, carrier pigeon or smoke signals, if he can he will get back to you.
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