blog-header-image-template-1Tim and I had a lesson in how not to sell on Wednesday evening.

We are doing work to the house at the moment, and need to replace some windows and the front door, so called a big double gazing company to come and quote to start getting an idea of what it’s going to cost and what we can get.

They booked us in for an evening consultation over the phone.

The salesman arrived on time at 7pm and was polite enough but proceeded to spend the next 3 HOURS taking us through a whole load of unnecessary technical bumpf about the products and bringing in demo after demo to ‘test’ and ‘try’.

We were so clear about we wanted and didn’t want at the start of the meeting but he insisted on showing us everything anyway and completely ignored us when we asked him to measure and give us an idea of price.

Now you’re probably thinking…. “Jen, why didn’t you just kick him out!” and now that I’ve slept on it, I’m wondering that too! But it wasn’t like we didn’t try. At first we dropped polite hints (like me going off to the kitchen to cook dinner) and asking him if he needed a hand getting the measurements to quote. After a while of not taking the hint, he started to showed signs of getting ready to wrap up and so we’d hang on and share a little look of glee between us! But he’d then start telling us more technical specifications and get us to test the demo windows, or he’d share a story from his time living in the local town Tim used to work in and ask Tim if he knew the people he knew…

Aside from the obvious fact that Tim and I will be MUCH firmer in our boundaries with people coming into our home in the future, there were some really good lessons and reminders about sales and talking to prospective clients that I think is helpful to share with you today.

Even if all it does is remind you that you’re doing things well!

❗️The salesman didn’t set the tone for the meeting. There was no suggestion of how long it would take, what we’d cover or expectations of what we’d like.

  • Always start a meeting or sales call by setting expectations. When I get on a discovery call or have a meeting with a prospective client, I always tell them what to expect and how it will go (including duration), and check in with them if that’s ok.

❗️He didn’t listen to our needs or wants and proceeded to show us EVERY product and option, even when we told him we didn’t want it because he “knows the products very well and always makes the best suggestions”.

  • When talking to a potential client, I get the information I need  and then suggest 1, maybe 2 options at most that I think would be a good fit. Sometimes they already know what service they want and we just go straight into talking about that. I never presume to know better than my client and even if I do feel a service would be a better fit, I try and find out why they want something else and see their perspective first!

❗️He slated his competitors products as a way of demonstrating theirs were superior.

  • For me, this has the complete opposite effect! It actually doesn’t make you look better, it makes you look worse! I choose to believe my potential clients are smart people who can research the competition if they wish and would never dream of slating anyone else to try and get the client! I would rather my merits speak for themselves (and there’s plenty of business to go around anyway, no need to be worried about your competition!)

❗️He didn’t read any signals from us. He stuck to his ‘script’ or way of doing things and didn’t deviate no matter how much we tried to get him to get to the point. He ruined our evening and for me, no matter the product or price I am very hesitant to go with them. However I’m also now put off letting any other company come and quote!

  • I try and listen to my clients and pick up on their signals and would never stick to a script out of pure belligerence. I do have a step by step system I follow to make sure I’ve covered the essentials when talking to a potential customer, but I listen and respond to their needs. I try to make the experience as pleasant as possible, even if we don’t end up working together, and I would hate for them to be put off social media in general after our conversation.

❗️When discussing the payment options, he wouldn’t give us any idea of price, and was incredibly vague about the next steps and how we’d get the quote. He also proceeded to try and sell us the finance option but wouldn’t answer our questions about how long the term would be and the interest rates.

  • Be confident in your prices and state them! Even if it’s a bespoke proposal that needs to be worked up, I will tell them a potential client day rate and an anticipated time that could be a little higher or lower depending on scope. I clearly share payment terms and keep it as simple as possible for both sides – no hidden costs or charges at any point. Although I don’t offer finance, I do sometimes offer payment plans and make them as simple to understand as possible.

❗️He didn’t tell us the next steps, didn’t say goodbye to me or thank us for our time. His parting words were “oh its nearly 10 o clock, doesn’t time fly when you’re having fun” ? and just left!

  • I always make the next steps clear and thank my clients for their time, and part with politeness. No matter how you think it’s gone, it’s just plain courtesy!

Now I read it back, it seems laughable that we let this go on for so long, but alas we did! And I genuinely don’t think the guy knew what he was doing. He just had his way of selling and he was going to stick to it no matter what.

That can be a dangerous place to be in business – if you assume you know what you’re doing and there’s no better way or room for improvement, you miss opportunities for growth and getting even better!

The experience has made me take a good look at my process and I’ll be even more conscious of my potential client’s time and experience in the future!

Share Your Thoughts In The Comments Below

  • Have you ever encountered a similar experience and learnt anything from it to take into your business?
  • Have any of the above lessons helped you think about better ways of looking after potential clients and making the sales process as smooth and enjoyable as possible?

I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Jen x

  • richysmith

    Everyday is a learning day and you’ve reviewed your process and confirmed it’s good. A gold star lesson! If you’ll excuse the implied pun; he gave you a mountain to climb and in so doing he lost the sale. Having been in sales a little while, I’ve learned that the best tools a salesman can bring to a meeting are his ears – and always use them in the direct ratio with his mouth i.e. 2:1