June 8, 2010

A rant for salespeople

Blog, you know what a positive person I am.  Today, alas, I am not feeling positive.  Of course it's health-insurance related, as that is my biggest ongoing nightmare.  But I've whined on here enough about the screw-ups of my health insurance provider.  Today I'm going to whine about a new subject:  salespeople.

I am not going to generalize and say something like, "The world would be a better place of all salespeople were transported to Mars."  (Anyway, we don't currently have the technology for that, although it could be a future use for the Falcon 9.)  In point of fact, I have many times actually benefitted from the help of salespeople.  They've solved a problem, met a need, or imparted helpful information.  In such cases I was happy to see them receive a commission.

What I don't like is salespeople who look at their job as doing whatever it takes to make money, and if that means wasting your time or harassing you, they'll do it.

One of my daughters had this happen this past week.  She contacted a health insurance (natch) salesguy about getting a policy.  Not only was he sort of annoying on the phone, his poor communication after the call resulted in my daughter (after waiting several days) taking care of getting the policy herself directly from the insurance company's website.

And this guy had the nerve afterwards to ask her to jump through some hoops so he could get paid a commission anyway!  When she declined and told him why, he argued with her!

Attention salespeople:  in my world, arguing with a no is not tolerated.  In fact, let's make that an official rule:


I've actually had salespeople at my day job respond to my "no" with things like, "Well I don't understand why you wouldn't want our product if you care about doing your job well.  Your employer would not be happy to know how badly you're doing your job."

Excuse me?  Is this seriously why you called me?  So I can get criticism from you about my job performance?

I told that guy I was making a note in my files and to our CEO that we would never do business with his company ever.  That made him even more belligerent, so I had to hang up on him.

I'll give a salesperson a fair chance to demonstrate if he's offering me something of value.  Once it's clear he's not, we've entered "You're Wasting My Time Territory," and that is a land I will not linger in for long.  It's not the salesguy's decision whether the product is of value to me, it's MINE.  After that I allow maybe 25 more words of conversation, and then I WILL hang up.

Salespeople who look at themselves as customer service people always succeed.  The moment I recognize a salesguy doesn't have that viewpoint, it's peace out for me.  And that's my beef with this health insurance guy.  It's your job to help me, and if you don't, I'm sure as heck not going to help you get paid.  Let's make another rule:


Not by being a pain in the arse.  Not by intimidation or guilt trips.  Not by badgering me into submission.  Treat me like that and be thankful I'm not in a position to actually DOCK your pay, buddy.

It amazes my that this guy couldn't get it.  When the situation called for an apologize and graceful exit, he went into Oh-My-God-I'm-Not-Going-to-Get-Paid mode.  And clearly that took precedence over any other consideration.

I truly understand the challenges of being in commission sales.  But I'm afraid I still have no sympathy.  If your particular position, or your personality, do not afford you a way to earn money by helping people, get a different job, in sales or something else.

In my undoubtedly excessively optimistic opinion, everyone ought to do a job that benefits others in some way.  This is why I don't favor working for the Mafia or a drug cartel.  In my day job I work in marketing.  I help people find a source for products their looking for, and get assistance with selecting them.  In my writing I entertain.  I get paid for my efforts, but those efforts achieve a service for others, so that's what makes it fair.

Too many salespeople do not look at selling that way.  They simply use any tool at their disposal to manipulate a sale.  A more cynical person than myself would say, "Hey, that's life on Planet Earth."  Well yeah, it is...but I don't have to like it.  And when it's done to me, I'm fighting back.

There's always a chance that salesperson will wise up, and not pull the same crap on the next person.  We can only hope, Blog.


  1. Here, here! Great post!

    My brother is a natural salesperson, and he's SO good at it. He sells running shoes by being really knowledgeable about his product, and by being able to quickly assess a customer's needs. It's kind of amazing to watch someone I know do this well, because it's such alien behavior to me. The very idea of sales makes me cringe, and most salespeople have the similar effects you described above.

  2. Oddly enough, I faxed him his signed piece of paper (so he could get his sale), but also told him I wanted to end the relationship there. He knows my friend Tanya at CK, plays in the softball league I play in, and after all that, I was like, jeez, this is a guy I'll probably run into somewhere someday and I'd rather NOT worry about him being all pissed off at me. The whole thing ended up with us being friends on Facebook of all things. Usually I'd be right there with you, but when you know the guy through people it gets way more complicated! Gotta pick your battles. He got his sale, yes, but I got to tell him what he did wrong to lose my business. In the end, it actually ended peacefully. If only we could do something like this in the Middle East?? Haha! ;)

  3. Alanna, sounds like your brother is definitely the good kind of salesperson. I've actually bought running shoes in a running store and been hugely helped by the knowledgeable sales people in that business, so I get whereof you speak!

    Katesi, getting that guy pissed off at you would have only made MORE grief for yourself, so I agree with how you handled it. But hopefully he wises up before he irritates someone not so gracious (like me, LOL) and makes trouble for himself!