It all started out so well, a sales pitch straight out off a sales professionals ‘must-do’ handbook and, naturally, it worked a treat… to begin with!
The initial approach was lovely and light-hearted with the sales executive making his pitch openly, apparently honestly and yet with an easy charm that any EA/PA will allow time for especially when the chat is entertaining.
“I can’t believe we’re stuck in the office on a day like this,” he interjected to a reasoned and researched approach to sell a new merchandise accounting system he wanted to present to my company’s sales director.
Of course, by this time he’d already made the system sound very attractive, promising a sizeable reduction in over-ordering wastage, and so I was happy to pass a pleasant couple of moments on niceties discussing our favourite holiday destinations.
And, naturally, I was more than happy to book in a future meeting for him with the sales director so he could make a more formal pitch for the business.
However, a week before the planned meeting, he rang to apologise profusely saying: “I’m so sorry, Ms Sterne, I’ve just realised I’ve double-booked that day and won’t be able to make it. Can we reschedule for the following week?”
Luckily for him, I was still on board with his easy charm and the sales director could, in fact, make that later date. When I told the sales guy that I’d be able to reschedule, he was gushing in his thanks. “Thanks so much, darling and I’ll send you a little ‘sorry’ present in the post.”
Well, already irked by having to make his excuses to my sales director, the use of ‘darling’ was a little too familiar for my tastes and when, two days later a box of meringues flown in from my favourite holiday destination of Lavandou on the Cote d’Azure arrived in the office, what should have been a thoughtful gesture felt just a little bit too cheesy!
Yet, I wasn’t to know that things would get even worse when he did turn up for the meeting. Because, instead of focusing on the service he had come to sell, he spent the vast bulk of time trying to schmooze the director and impress with his knowledge of travel and high living.
Even when my sales director decided to show him a video presentation of what our company was trying to achieve in procurement of raw materials expecting to give the guy a chance to explain exactly how his new service would enhance our buying, he ignored the specifics and spent most of the time cracking inappropriate jokes and regurgitating tittle-tattle from red-top tabloids about the early exploits of the minor acting celebrity we had hired to present the video.
Needless to say, the sales director was soon looking intently at his watch and I took the opportunity to step in. “Thank you for your time in coming to present your service but Mr Manners has another board meeting in a few minutes so we will have to draw the meeting to and end.”
I could see out of the corner of one eye the look of relief on the director’s face and, from the other, a look of horror and shock on the salesman’s face at the realisation he had totally blown the deal!
So, the lesson? Stay focused on what you are selling and the customer’s needs and don’t try to be their friends – it wastes all our time. That said, those meringues were delicious!