More Stupid Selling Tricks


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It’s been a while since I’ve had a rant about people who represent our profession poorly.  Today, I was a victim of one of the most dishonest and ineffective calls I’ve ever experienced.  Not only did the salesperson represent himself dishonestly, but he has given me a negative  impression of his company, one of the largest insurance companies in the country.  Here’s how the call went:

Phone rings, I answer, “Hello, this is Dave Brock.”

Confused voice at the other end of the line, “Are you with [such and such a company]?”  My antenna go up, he’s referring to the name that we have registered the company as in the state of California.  Since we never use that name for anything other than tax reporting, I can always tell it’s a sales person prospecting off the public records list.

Cautiously I respond, “Yes, I am, how can I help you?”

“I’m (let me call him) Tim, from Super Gigondo Financial Services), are you a consulting company?”  he stated.

I decided to let it slip that I wasn’t a company, but that I worked for a company, I responded, “Yes, how can I help you?”

“Great,” he says, “one of my clients needs a consultant, and I wanted to give him a recommendation, can you tell me what you do?”  (you can probably already see where this is going)

“Well, maybe if you could tell me a little bit about what your client is looking for, I might be able to tell you whether we can help or not,” I reply.

“Well, it’s actually not for a specific client, but lots of my clients are looking for consultants, I really want to be of service to them, so I like to get to know some of the resources available in the community that I might recommend,” he responds.

“Oh, excuse my confusion, you said you had a specific client you were trying to help, “  I’m getting a little testy—I’ve been through this before.  I decide to pursue this for a moment, partly because I can’t believe that Super Gigondo Financial Services teaches their sales people to do this as a prospecting technique.  I’m curious to see how this plays out, so I tell him quickly what we do, the types of clients we work with, and so forth.

“Thank you,” he responds, “that’s very helpful.”

This is interesting I think, he doesn’t ask me any questions, never asks who we have done work for, guess he must be very trusting.

He goes on, “I’d like to get together with you to learn a little more, so I can recommend you to my small business clients.  All of them are begging for the services you offer, I’m excited about recommending you to them.  When can we schedule a few minutes to get together?”

Well, I’ve been consulting for a long time, I’ve never found lots of people begging for consultants, particularly small business clients.  There’s a place for our services, but consulting really isn’t a supply constrained industry.  But, I’m feeling this might turn into a great blog post, so I go on.

“Well, I can’t meet for a few weeks, but I’m glad to meet and learn what clients you may want to reference us to.  However, let me be very clear, my company is not in the market for the products and services you are selling.  So if you expect to use this as a selling opportunity, you are wasting your time and my time.”  I say sternly (don’t I have a wonderful way of establishing rapport with someone who wants to help me?)

He gets a little testy, “How do you know what I might be selling?  You don’t know anything about me!”


“Well, Tim, ” I say, “I don’t know you, but I know Super Gigondo Financial Services very well.  We are not in the market for anything theysell.”

“Well, I really don’t sell financial services products, my job is to connect people together.  I just want to help my clients,” he protests.

This is really interesting news to me, I didn’t realize Super Gigondo Financial Services had diversified and was now into charitable networking.  Reading their latest 10Q, they still be be very intensely focused on insurance and investment products.  I don’t see anything about brokering relationships between their customers or purposefully becoming a not for profit.   How do they make money? 

I decide to bail on the call, it’s all played out.  Here’s a guy who has done no homework, who can only use thinly veiled deceit to try to get a meeting with me.  I wonder if he thinks I’m stupid enough to fall for it?   Are the products and services that Super Gigondo Financial Services sells so devoid of value that he can’t think of a way to get me interested in his own company’s products?  Hasn’t he been trained in how to do a good prospecting call to get the interest of potential customers?

I thank him for the call, telling him that I am booked and traveling the next few weeks (I am), and that I can’t schedule a meeting. 

“Well, would you call me when you return, perhaps we can get together?” he pleads.

“Of course,” I reply, “just hold your breath.”

I hang up the phone, making a note to myself to change our state registration papers from ‘Consulting Services,’ to ‘Funeral Services.’  I’m really anxious to get a call from a Super Gigondo Financial Services sales person saying, “Our customers are dying to do business with you!”

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Dave Brock
Dave has spent his career developing high performance organizations. He worked in sales, marketing, and executive management capacities with IBM, Tektronix and Keithley Instruments. His consulting clients include companies in the semiconductor, aerospace, electronics, consumer products, computer, telecommunications, retailing, internet, software, professional and financial services industries.


  1. Great story, Dave. I guess from now on I’m going to listen to the unsolicited sales calls I get just so I can get more material for my blog!

  2. Dave: Gigando’s underhanded selling tactics will ripple beyond this call. I’m sure you’ll recollect your conversation next time you see one of their signs or ads. Anytime I read about unethical selling tactics, I recognize that there’s a manager who encouraged the behavior, if he or she didn’t outright orchestrate it. Your experience would be quite rare if such tactics didn’t work, which sadly is not the case. Just one more reason that companies need to understand what’s happening in customer conversations. There’s no excuse anymore to say “Tim’s just crushing his quota! Don’t know how he does it! . . .”

  3. Andrew, this is one of the times when I wish I could disagree with you—but I can’t. Unfortunately, I really can’t blame Tim in this. He’s being trained and managed to be deceitful in his prospecting. He’s just one of “over 4,600 trained and knwoedgeable Financial Professionals….” who are all doing similar things.

    It’s a shame that, as a strategy, this company holds it’s prospective customers in such low regards, and they hold the abilities of their sales people in such low regards, that they have to resort to deceitful tactics, rather than working on engaging prospects in a meaningful value based way.

    Unfortunately these tactics work–but increasingly they are working poorly–and these desparate organizations look for other deceitful ways, which will work until….. It continues in a death spiral.

    Customers are having conversations, they are telling others about these companies and not to do business with them.

  4. It’s evidence of poor training and a rotten script, both of which are characteristics of the Indian call centers who make similar calls.

    This approach to cold calling fizzled out in the 70s, and I’m surprised that some companies are still using it. There are more creative ways of getting under the guard of prospects, but one approach that always impresses me is an open, friendly manner that stems from a belief in the value of the product or service, and a respect for the intelligence of the listener.

    If a stranger walked up to you in the street with a smile on his face and a friendly greeting, would you refuse to speak to him? Of course not. So why should it be any different on the phone?

    The Tim in your story doesn’t know about asking questions to establish need and rapport. Training need, obviously.

  5. Phillip: Tim was calling me from the Los Angeles area. I’ve always favored being straightforward and direct. I respect the intelligence of my customers and the value my products bring them. Why wouldn’t one express that openly.

    Tim’s problem was training and leadership. Regards, Dave


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