This is a true sales story, a case study of what not to do in sales. In this true sales story, we were on the buying side for a change, an interesting experience of role reversal since what we do all day is generate B2B sales leads for others. Our company was interested in doing business with a potential new vendor. This potential vendor offered a technology that appeared to be a solution we’d been searching for so we were pretty motivated to connect with them. We were a bona fide “hot lead”, as close to a “sure thing” as it gets.
We wanted to set up a demo with a few people from our company. Usually spending money is pretty easy, however, the novice sales rep assigned to us made it quite difficult for us to get from point A to point B in the sales process. If the Pink Panther’s Inspector Clouseau had been a sales rep instead of a detective, he would have been this guy, minus Clouseau’s knack for uncanny luck.
Our Sales Clouseau pretty much made every mistake in the book which, after a while, was so goofy it got a little comical and caused a fair amount of chaos. Like a Pink Panther movie, it was entertaining in a somewhat twisted sort of way, and even though I do truly love Peter Sellers, that much ineptness is always just a little painful to watch.
Here’s how Sales Clouseau handled his business with us:
- Communication. We called him, but he never answered his phone. Not even once. It didn’t seem like he was at work very much.
- Voice Mail Full. We couldn’t leave a message when we called him because his voice mail was full. We emailed him and called the main number but as far as we know, he never did clear his voice mail. We were not feelin’ the love
- Calendar Invite to Wrong People. We wanted him to set up a demo and send a calendar invite. We gave him instructions to send a calendar invite but no matter what we said, he kept inviting the wrong people. This went on.. and on…for a while. We started asking to be assigned to a new rep.
- Calendar Invite for Wrong Time. It isn’t that easy to align several busy people’s schedule to see a demo however, we did all agree on a time. The stars came into alignment on the time, but then Sales Clouseau sent the invite out for the wrong time.
- Calling the Wrong Person. So, when he needed to start over, again… to align the schedule for a new demo time, we told him which person to call within our company to coordinate things, but,,, he kept calling the wrong person.
- Company Name Wrong. When the day of the demo actually happened, finally, he had our company name listed incorrectly. That was bad enough, but he actually had a competitor’s name where our information should have been and the data was garbled, partly theirs and partly ours, like our name but their website. Our phone number but their address. We were just shaking our heads.
- Incorrect Product Information. He gave us incorrect product information. We were interested in some features that he said it wouldn’t do, but when we eventually got assigned to a more knowledgeable rep, we were pleased to learn that it did have the features we wanted. This was later, after we started using the program.
- Budget Allocation. We gave instructions on how to spend our budget, which was X dollars per month for a three-month period. He spent the three-month budget in about a week.
In the case of Inspector Clouseau, despite his lack of judgment and skill, he always solves his cases and finds the culprits, usually entirely by accident. Unfortunately, our Sales Clouseau did not come out smelling like a rose. In spite of how many hurdles Sales Clousea threw up, our company did sign up as a new customer after all. But, right after our rep blew through the three-month budget in a week, sadly, but not so surprisingly, he was given the old ‘heave ho.’ His boss was not amused and he did not have the freakish good luck of Inspector Clouseau.
Sales Clouseau was persistent but not in a good way. He kept repeating the same mistakes. We couldn’t help but write about the experience. Instead of living a sales experience, it was more like we were living through a sales nightmare. So, this list of errors serves as what NOT to do if one wants to be a successful sales person.
And now for the pièce de résistance. After his demise at our new vendor, Sales Clouseau applied for a job with us! Really, we couldn’t make this stuff up if we tried.
About the Author
Tracie Chancellor, CEO and Founder of TeleReach Corporate, national business to business call center specializing in sales appointment setting and lead generation, based in Houston, Texas. Chancellor is an MBA graduate of the University of Houston with over 20 years hands-on sales and marketing experience, working with privately-held businesses, universities, non-profit organizations, as well as Fortune businesses in the business to business marketing space.