Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Pitch

Selling and sales people I understand. I’ve been around them and worked directly with them for almost four decades.

They have the job of introducing consumers to items and describing the reasons why the product (or service) should be purchased.

Now this is an important asset to consumerism. Without the sales person, we, the general public, would not be exposed to wonder snake oil lotions or prefabricated shiny appliances, which we didn’t know we could not live without.
The good ones can read the personality of the potential customer and steer their persuasive presentation with surprising efficiency. They have answers for every question with a constant barrage of facts and features speeding the process of finishing the sale.

Some are not as good. They don’t understand (or care) about the product or service and are sent into the field with paperwork, brochures, and figures with a quota assigned by their manager to maintain their commission. If the sale is not made, it does not affect the sales person. They just move on to another potential victim on a list.

In the past week, while waiting for one contractor to appear out of the winter wind to finish a previous agreed upon job, I decided to get some estimates from several other contractors on another project. Searching through the Internet and yellow pages and BBB reports, I choice a few numbers and made the request. I was very clear at the onset that I was planning of the work to be done in the spring and ONLY wanted estimates to figure out a budget.
The first guy, young and energetic, with his emblazoned jacket and college smile, came by in his snazzy looking lettered truck and took a quick look at what I wanted to be repaired or replaced. I again told the young man that I just wanted the estimate. Before whipping out his suitcase of examples, he asked (as did all the sales people) how did I hear about his company. I’m sure this is a method to survey which forms of advertising work. To his surprise, I told him I knew the owner and founder of his company and used to prepare his advertising. After a brief yet impressive spiel, he pulled out a pre-printed form, did some quick calculations, visually scratching through the total and offering me a one-in-a-lifetime price if I signed on the dotted line.

His slip up came when he asked me to “guess” what the estimate might be. When looking at the total, I was surprised. It cost, even when his competent show of quality and durability, was a bit high. Within my reach, I wanted some comparisons before spending that much.
The second sales person arrived the next day, also in a lettered truck. I had used the company for another job and tried to use that fact for an opening line. He introduced himself as the owner of the company and carried no samples, briefcases, or even paper. I showed sales person number tow the same area. He did not measure or even touch the area. A quick scan and he was walking out the door. He gave me a rate for the item, but the price was the same for every item, no matter the size. After going to his truck, he handed me a brochure and recommended I go to the web and check out the specifications. I guess, he did not take Sales 101.

Sorry pal, you have to do better than that to get my bucks.
The third sales person, much like the first, had certain energy necessary to express excitement about the possibility I would give him money. He surveyed the area, made his presentation and recommendations. His price was reasonable and the product quality appeared suitable for my needs. He had delivered the customers expectations without over extending the pitch. When told he would be called in a few days, he was pleasant and not pushy.

Not bad.

The forth guy, again one of the owners, at least that what it said in the brochure and he told me personally with some aloof pride, gazed at my request but was more interested in commenting on the sale of the home and the neighborhood and other items which did not concern him or his company at this time. He asked what other companies I had interviewed, and then one-by-one dismissed them. His selling point was his company was local. He offered to do additional work, but when I showed him other projects, he was apparently disinterested.

How does this guy stay in business?

With the specifications and prices of all the different items in front of me, I had already made a decision.

Now everyone is happy.

Now onto the next project.

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