Friday, July 16, 2004

...How Customers Can Be Sleazeballs Too (High-Tech, Business to Business Edition)

Salespeople get a bad rap. Not that they don’t frequently earn the stereotype of being sleazy and dishonest. But customers can be just as bad.
Maybe they’re just trying to fight fire with fire. But in my career I’ve often found that the most unethical people involved in the sales process are the ones not receiving the commission.
Mostly it has to do with price. Nobody wants to feel stupid after discovering they’ve overpaid for a product or service. Especially Little Dick.
Little Dick

Somewhere in between boasting about how he talks his way out of traffic tickets and driving a really big truck, there is nothing that makes Little Dick feel like he’s proactively increased the size of his wanker than being able to say he beat up a sales rep on price.
Little Dick is one of those guys who thinks he's come up with a great, original witticism when he asks, “Can you sharpen your pencil a little bit?” 
I swear I could offer Little Dick a $10,000.00 product for $9.00 and he’d still try to shave it down to $7.00 just so he could say he did.
The Guy Down the Street
For as much as people complain about how unpleasant it is to buy a car, it is at least fairly easy for a customer to find out approximately what a car costs a dealership to buy and what a fair profit is for the dealership to make on a sale. This isn’t the case in my industry. You’d think this would work to the salespersons advantage, but it rarely does. Often a customer will get an idea in his head of what he thinks a product should cost, and then try to get you to sell to him at this price by claiming, “The guy down the street quoted me $XXX, but I’d really like to buy it from you. Can you match his price?”
His lie is easy to catch because the price he claims to have received is generally hundreds or thousands of dollars below dealer cost, and while getting undercut by the competition is an everyday event in my industry, most companies don’t sell at a loss. Plus, if he’s being offered such a great price, why is he bothering to call you? It is always a demented pleasure to watch these customers squirm when you tell them you’d be happy to match the price he was offered by The Guy Down the Street as long as he can provide written documentation of the quote or, even better,  tell him the price he’s being offered from The Guy Down the Street is so incredible he should jump at it while he has the chance. The customer will usually wait out his embarrassment a few days and then order from you at your originally quoted price.
If Mom Says No, Try Dad 
Remember when you were a little kid and you’d ask your mom permission for something, and if she didn’t give you the answer you were looking for you’d go ask your dad? And vice versa? I’d like to think this is a habit people grow out of, but my experience tells me otherwise. When I first started out in sales, I worked for a relatively large company, but my particular department consisted of only 3 people. Customers, for some reason, assumed we were part of some huge call center where nobody ever talked to one another. When you’re looking to make a major purchase, I can understand shopping around for the best price. But shopping different salespeople within the same company? It was not uncommon for a customer to call one of us, decide he didn’t like the price Sales Rep #1 offered, wait a few minutes, and then call back to take his chances on Sales Rep #2. Then #3.  Much to this customer’s chagrin, Sales Reps #2 and #3 would either refer him back to #1 or we’d simply all offer the same price.
The Loser
A less frequent customer, but undoubtedly the most annoying of all, is whom we’ll call, for lack of a better term, The Loser. The Loser is generally “Jeff Jones” from “Jones and Associates” Whenever you get a call from First Name Last Name of Last Name and Associates, you know it’s going to be trouble. There are never any associates. The Loser, being a one-man show, can’t afford any of the products you sell, but doesn’t see that as a deterrent.
All of The Losers must go to the same school because they all have the same m.o. Be smarmy as hell and act as if the two of you have been the best of friends for years.
At some point during the conversation he starts his spiel. He doesn’t want to have to buy your product, but tells you should give it to him anyway. For free. Not as charity, but as a marketing tool. As he explains to you, The Loser is a consultant who does frequent presentations in front of many high-profile clients. If you give him your product for free, his big-wig clients will see him using your product, be wowed by your product, and should any of them ask him where he bought it, he’ll be sure to refer them back to you.
While owning your own company can be incredibly stressful, there are a lot of nice things about it too. You can take a day off without worrying about how it effects your remaining PTO time. You can have a beer at lunch without the fear of getting canned for it. If you don’t have any appointments that day, you can wear shorts to work. You can take off your shoes in the office. But best of all, you have complete permission to tell The Loser to go fuck himself.  In so many words. 
<< List
Jewish Bloggers
Join >>
Weblog Commenting and Trackback by

< ? California Blogs # >
Powered by Blogger