Just Say No

Salesmen. There a good ones, bad ones, pushy ones, annoying ones. But they have one thing in common – their job is to make you say “Yes!”

Being a buyer means that I have to deal, on a daily, if not hourly, basis, with numerous cold calls, presentations, pitches, endless samples and, what I can only describe on occasion, as persistent stalking. To be honest, it’s got to the point now, that if I don’t recognise the number that has illuminated itself on my phone, I won’t answer it. If it’s important, they’ll leave a message.

In the past I’ve even had cold callers come to my office in person and stand by my desk – having bypassed the receptionist’s lame security screening along with their 3 brain cells – grinning inanely because they are still trying to pass off the facade that they know me.

Yes, you may be standing next to me in person, but I’m still going to have you removed from the building unless you impress me very quickly.

And if you could leave your tasty cake samples on the way out, that would be great. 

My boss, Mr. Price, has equally no time for pushy salesmen. And he in turn learnt from his boss in the supermarket industry. He, legend had it, kept a pair of large dress making scissors on his desk, and if he got annoyed / bored with the salesman, he would reach over, grab the poor peddler’s tie, and cut it off at the knot. 

An urban myth? Maybe – but apparently, there was always tension in the air when meetings were chaired by “the Tailor”

I have thought about 5 pieces of advice to give b2b salesmen. Retail sales is different, the people you are selling to in retail are making emotional decisions – I am not. I am making professional decisions. So….

  1. Do your research. There is no point trying to flog me something I don’t need. For instance, the business I work for doesn’t buy or sell cheese. So the call I had the other day from Dick the Cheese of Cheeses ‘R’ Us wasted my time. And yours.
  2. No does mean no. If it changes to “yes”, then I will let you know. But don’t stalk me afterwards. Because if you do, it means when it changes to “yes”, I will go elsewhere. Why? Because if you’re a pushy annoying salesman, you’ll be a pushy annoying account manager too.
  3. Get to the point. I haven’t got time to listen to all the flowery shit – just tell me the important stuff. I sit through countless presentations and all I’m interested in are 3 things. The product, the price and the service. Talk mainly about the product. Tell me the price. And show me you will give good service. 
  4. Be professional. Turn up on time. Don’t call me mate. Dress smart, but not overly so – I don’t mind smart casual. Don’t tell me about your private life on our first meeting and talk properly in business language. People forget how much of a difference this makes, and forms my impression of the level of service you will provide.
  5. Be prepared. Sounds obvious, but please, come with the correct facts and figures and if you don’t know the answer, don’t try and blag it like you’re in Grange Hill. I will see through it.

So there you go. Maybe I should be a sales trainer?



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