352 Inc. / Digital Marketing / February 25th, 2008

I don't like sales people ….

… before you get on my case I know I’m technically a sales person but I would never admit that to anyone – when I’m asked what I do I simply say “I work for a web design company” and leave it at that. As an account manager, my role is to gain new business, and foster that business relationship for years you could call it “Serial Monogamy” for website owners “I love you and will treat you all equally but it’s important for me to have more than one client.” Then there is the other type “The bottom feeder” the kind you think of when you hear the term “sales person.”

Last Saturday (Feb 2nd), I went to the Detroit boat show to buy a boat. I happen to live on a lake, I decided I wanted to purchase a luxury item for the summer months; I work hard so it’s important that I relax on Sundays so there is some kind of break in what I do, now here is the part of why “I hate sales people.” Travis a colleague at 352 is a professional skier, he sent me some details on boats so I had a fair idea of what I was after.  I stopped by the Nautique display and had a look at the boats, they looked fine ecstatically, got some details from the staff and moved on to the Malibu section. This is where the fun started, the sales person swooped in like a bird of prey, I did not see him coming, he asked what are you looking for? and I stupidly said “I’m looking to buy a boat” as he had taken me by surprise.

He launched into a tirade of boating acronyms, nautical terms, and analogies comparing them to American cars. My mind when blank, I stopped him, as I travelled to seek information on the best boat for my needs, (wake boarding, fishing, and a few leisurely beers). And I didn’t have a clue what he was talking about, I told him straight – I’m from Europe, I know nothing about boats, American cars, or anything nautical for that matter, so he made some more references to Malibu boats been the best thing since sliced bread — how safe they were, the interiors where great, the engine was amazing. Still using acronyms, nautical terms, and analogies to American cars, after I had specifically suggested that he didn’t.

He made 3 mortal sins in his sales pitch (1) he slagged off the competition, he told me that Malibu were the best boats ever, better than all the rest, I replied — I thought that Nautique where top of the heap, as a colleague had told me so, his reply was “he is obviously not a skier” I explained, he’s actually a pro skier, and he knows his stuff. Moving on to the second and worst thing he could have said,

(2) he noticed a Bayliner boat brochure, in my hand and he made a comment “we in the industry call Bayliner’s AIDS,” I said sorry… say that again, as I was so bored, I thought I heard wrong. He said “AIDS” because once you have it you can’t get rid of it. Now I’m not medical expert, but the doctor with me was, — is there a rule that people with AIDS can’t buy a boat – what if I had AIDS and he made that comment, firstly I would take this a huge offence, he would’ve been fired Malibu boats would have been sued for what…. because some slimy sales person made a derogatory comment, in order for me not to buy a boat that he didn’t sell.

(3) He lied to me – he said every woman that came to his ski school for lessons (his other job) that had a “Bayliner,” he had sold them a new Malibu that very day, what a liar, if he was really that good of a sales person I would have paid the 60k for the boat there and then.

Now this seems like a little bit of a rant and it is, – its people like him that make me embarrassed to say what I do for a living (sales!) As sales people you need to be very careful what you say, and how you say it, as mis-truths can come back to haunt you. They can cause clients to jump ship after a project is finished or worse during, because they don’t trust you – a happy informed client will stick with you forever because they trust your knowledge, experience and what you’re doing is in their best interest. If they get a whiff of sneaky underhanded tactics, they will leave you and go to your competitors, so all that hard work of trying to win and keep them is all in vein and you get nothing.

The bottom line is he tried to sell me a Mercedes when I wanted a Honda. I will not be buying a $60,000 boat unless Travis replies to this post with some compelling reason why he thinks I need a Malibu, for four usable months of the year. And even that I still won’t be spending that amount of money — for those whom personally know me, you will understand that I’m the sort of person that would reverse the boat in a wall the first time I try to put it into the water.

My parting thoughts — How you sell is a reflection on you and the type of person you are. If you can sleep at night knowing you sold something even if you knew it was the wrong product — karma will come back to haunt you. If you sell something because your company puts high sales targets that you have to reach – leave get and get a job with a decent company with a conscience, you’re doing nobody any good selling them something that is not the right solution for their needs.