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Bad Salesman! April 15, 2009

Posted by Chuck Musciano in Leadership.
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I get a lot of cold sales calls.  I can only take a few, and most get either redirected or ignored.  I know that sounds harsh, but that is the reality. My people get a lot of sales calls.  They can only take a few, and most get ignored.  I know that sounds harsh, but that is the reality.

If you are a salesperson, and you are cold-calling me or my team, and we do not return your call, you have your answer.  That may not be the most polite way of conveying the answer, but please, move on.  We’re busy and you’re busy.  Spend your time with a more lucrative customer.

I have tremendous respect for salespeople and how hard their job is.  I really appreciate the great salespeople that partner with me and make me successful.  I get really frustrated when a bad salesperson makes the rest of them look bad.  Like the other day, for example.

Out of the blue, I get blind-copied on an email sent to my systems manager from some salesperson.  In it, the salesperson is complaining about how my manager won’t make time for him, and how we could be saving so much money if only he would return the salesperson’s call.  The inference, of course, is that my manager is negligent and that I need to step in and do something about it.

In reality, I am pleased to see that my manager has been ignoring an incompetent salesperson.  He scores brownie points, and the salesperson (and their company) is banished from consideration by me for the rest of my career.

What kind of salesperson actually believes that this is an effective sales technique?  Are they sitting back in their office, confident that this will break things loose on our end and result in a big sale?  If so, they are sadly mistaken.  When faced with a choice between some anonymous outside party and a member of my hardworking team, who do they think I am going to pick?

What kind of leader would take action based on this email?  Clearly, someone must have at some point, to give all these bad salespeople some hope that this tactic would work.  Let’s put it this way: those leaders are not making smart choices.  Imagine how demoralizing it is for an employee to be taken to task by his boss based on an anonymous outside comment by a salesperson!

Salespeople who resort to this kind of tactic give all the good salespeople a bad name.  Leaders who respond to it make the rest of the leaders look bad as well.  Let all make good choices, no matter which side of the sales process you are on.

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Comments»

1. Doug Brogdon - April 15, 2009

Chuck, good post! Being a sales person I can relate. I am a true believer in the phrase “people buy from people”. I do sympathize with many of the good ones out there that truly believe their product can help a customer and does not have any contacts there. But they need to take a no for a no. If you do not return the call, they should assume you are not interested. But if you do not say you do not need it, a good salesman is going to try someone else.

Now the ones that could care less about what they sell, or sell junk just annoy anyone, even me. Doing homework before making a call is key, also getting a referral. Thanks for the view from the other side of the street.

Doug Brogdon

CHANGE in PLAN Career Services
Outplacement, Recruiting and Career Coaching
Phone- 919-539-4905
Web Site- http://www.changeinplan.com
Email- doug@changeinplan.com

2. Michelle - April 15, 2009

Great post. I wrote one not too long ago about an unbelievably pushy salesperson–pushed every limit I had. Somewhere out there, there’s a sales trainer who isn’t doing his job properly. I say we start responding to these folks. Tell them exactly why they’ll never get the sale. Then maybe, just maybe, one day they’ll get the point instead.

3. Chuck Musciano - April 15, 2009

@Doug: I do respect a salesman that patiently works with me to build a relationship. But the blind-copying tactic is a relationship-killer.

@Michelle: I did respond to this person, copying my reply to the people he was trying to reach. They appreciated the support, and he claimed it was all a “big mistake.” Uh-huh.

4. Joe Williams - April 15, 2009

Nice post, Chuck. Not being in sales, I’ll share my view as a customer. I see sales as first building a relationship, then from there selling a product or service that is backed by the relationship. To echo @Michelle, training is warranted, whether it follows my model or some other.

5. Kate Lewis - April 20, 2009

I enjoyed your posting Chuck. I am a salesperson, but have to agree that there are bad salespeople out there that give us all bad reps. And unfortunately in this economy people get desperate and engage in activities and sales behaviors they may not have under different circumstances. I strongly believe in relationship selling. How do you know what your customer needs or wants if you don’t take the time to get to know them and their business first, before making a recommendation. That would be like a doctor prescibing pills before doing a careful assessment of a patient’s symptoms. I thought that all the postings were right on, including the posts from Michelle, Doug, and Joe as well. thanks.

6. Beth Bernstein - April 21, 2009

Chuck-Very good post!! I can completely understand companies frustrations with this and why it is so hard to find companies that you can truly “partner” with and trust that they have everyones best interest in mind…

7. Rob W - April 21, 2009

Chuck – clearly you correct in your statements and assessment. There is a lack of professionalism and creativity demonstrated by this sales person. A sales person should have the ability to communicate to the target audience the benefits and value of the solution they are presenting. If the message is not hitting home then as a sales person we have a choice of moving on to another target (that may be more fruitful) either inside the company or on to another company – or perhaps the salesperson has not been armed with an effective message that will hit home with the target. From your description it is difficult to say – but it is clear that blind copying you is really way off target.
Most sales campaigns are situational in that the structure and reactions ebb and flow during the campaign. Effective role playing and sales training are lost arts in today’s pressure filled world to produce. Productive sales people are always looking to learn and your message should hit home with a few. Clearly this string could go on and on but more training is the key.

8. Partnering For Success « The Effective CIO - September 10, 2009

[…] more than my fair share of beating up vendors for poor sales practices (to whit: regarding honesty, inappropriate emails, and unsolicited appointments).  It is only fair, then, to highlight a really good thing that […]

9. Eric Blaier - October 1, 2009

I just found this posting (about 5 months late!) but it hits the nail on the head. If you are simply trying to penetrate an account, upsetting the apple cart before knowing the lay of the land is not a prudent strategy. The old IBM/AT&T training always taught sales people to understand the lay of the land (for lack of a better term) if you were in national account sales.
Trying to blindly align you was obviously a desperate, last-ditch effort.


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