Nightmares on Sales Street!

Happy Halloween!

When Steven and I wrote Honesty Sells we dedicated Chapter 1 to true life sales Horror stories. I got to thinking about them today and wanted to share a few of the best. Consider this a stark reminder of just how scarey some sellers can be! (Not you of course).

The examples below are all true. You may laugh, you may cringe, you may even think, “There is no way I would ever do that!” Regardless of your reaction, I encourage you to take note of the lesson in each story. And. before you read any further, I urge you to make sure you haven’t got a weak stomach, and please—leave the lights on…

They can reach us in our homes. They track us down when we’re at the office or on the road. And unless you’ve spent the last 30 years living on the moon or under a rock, odds are, you’ve fallen prey to them more than once.

Bad salespeople. Not just bad—beyond bad. Here are my top three from the book.

1.The Blind Leading … Period

From Brent:

One of my first jobs in sales was working as a rep for a large copier company. I can still remember the day I made my first  sale of a brand new copier to the Institute for the Blind.

It wasn’t a top-of-the-line machine, but it was a solid sale, and I couldn’t have been happier. I treated myself to a celebratory cup of coffee (extra cream and sugar) and went to tell my manager the good news.

The party didn’t last long.

When I told him the particulars of the sale, he ordered me to send the client a used copier instead of a new one because, and I quote: “they won’t be able to tell the difference.”

I quit the next week. As for my manager, I can only hope he got everything he deserved. Like, say, a transfer to the branch office in Siberia.

2. Parlez-Vous Français?

From Eliot:

One of my responsibilities with a former employer was to hire a new sales rep for a bilingual position (French/English) to serve our overseas clients.

I received many resumes written in both languages. Several of them included a note explaining that the potential candidate spoke a third language as well—usually Spanish or German.

The resume of one particularly promising candidate indicated that she was proficient in English, French, and Spanish. So halfway through the interview, I suddenly switched to French. I asked her a question that would be simple for anyone with even a rudimentary understanding of the language to answer, but it was obvious from the look on her face that she hadn’t a clue what I was saying.

Sensing that she might not have been completely honest with me, I switched to Spanish. She was equally lost. To give her one last chance to redeem herself (and allow myself to blow off a little steam after having been misled for the better part of the morning), I asked her, in Spanish, if she was a liar.

When my question was once more met with a deer-in-the-headlights look and stunned silence, I switched back to English, gave her back her resume and asked her to leave.

Funny—this time she seemed to get the message fast enough.

3.A Little Sizzle with Your Steak?

From Susan:

I like the warm summer months as much as the next gal. Maybe more. But even for me, heat has its limits.

One particular August, it had been over 100 degrees—and humid—without letup for about a week. Our grass was turning brown. Our dog wouldn’t go outside. And my husband and I were trying to figure out how to hook up our lemonade supply intravenously.

On the hottest day of that hottest week, I got a call from a salesperson asking if I had received the free sample of meat his company had sent me in the mail.

Meat. Sent by mail. In 100-plus degree weather.

Even in my heat-addled state of mind, it was pretty obvious that he hadn’t sent me any samples and was only calling to get me to request information about his company’s products.

It was almost enough to make me become a vegetarian.

Have one to share?

I would love to hear your horror stories too. We all have them – either as a result of poor selling in the past OR as a result of being a victim. The lesson? It happens to the best of us. Just only let it happen once.

Safe selling!