Sometimes I’m Ashamed To Be A Sales Person


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If you follow this blog, you know I like talking to sales people trying to sell me something.  It’s always interesting to be on the customer side and to be able to look at how I am being sold to.  Often, I talk to really great sales people.  They are professional, they listen well, they execute their sales process well.  Even though I may not buy, I’ll find a way to point those people to an opportunity, or at least thank them for their professionalism.  Then I get the calls like I got today.

The call actually started well, it was short.  The sales person was trying to sell me some marketing services.  Like every company, we are interested in opportunities to extend our reach and attract interest.  The sales guy told me about their great capability to create content, interesting designs, powerful graphics, and compelling messages.  He further talked about getting that content into multiple channels in a cohesive way.

I was interested in what he had to say.  I asked him to send information and some references I could talk to.  We set a follow up for next week.  Within a few minutes, I got the email—things were going well.  He was meeting my expectations–though I did set the bar pretty low.

I received a series of word documents.  I opened the first one.  It was poorly written, confusing, had major formatting problems and even a few spelling errors. Hmmmmmm………..

I opened the second, it was no better, same with the third.  I was beginning to wonder.  Here is a company that presented themselves as creating compelling content, powerful messages, and high impact materials.  If their own marketing materials represented them so poorly, would they represent my company any better?

I was curious, I opened the list of references.  The sales person, in the email, had told me to feel free to contact any directly.  The references were 4 pages of testimonials—but only by 4 people.  Three pages were two testimonials from the same person.  The formatting and flow was terrible.  It looked like exactly what it was, a cut and paste job.  There were people’s names, but no contact information—I guess the sales person wanted me to work for the information. 

I clicked on the first link, hoping to be taken to the reference’s website.  The site I was taken to was one that declared the company’s offerings a scam!  It had many testimonials about how the company took your money, but either failed to deliver the service or delivered the poorest quality of service.

Hmmm…, this is an interesting approach, never saw this one before, I thought I’d seen just about everything.  I read the dismal reviews.  What they said about the company’s marketing programs was actually reinforced by the poor quality marketing materials the company had developed for itself.  The other reference that I could link to took me not to the reference’s web site, but to a completely different company, having nothing to do with the reference.  0 for 2, so far.  I decided to stop wasting my time. 

I wonder if the sales person ever looked at the materials he sent?  I wonder if he ever bothered to click on the links?  He clearly did not take my request for references seriously because there were no portfolio examples, the collateral he had sent was garbage, and I had no means of finding a legitimate reference.

The company was a legitimate company.  I actually pulled their D&B (sometimes my curiosity gets the best of me).  They weren’t big, but nothing stood out as saying they weren’t real.  The story wasn’t good when I went to the Better Business Bureau site, there were a number of complaints there.

You might ask, why are you blaming the sales person, the company is bad—after all, they are providing him with bad materials and poor references.  Absolutely, I agree, this company is terrible!  But the sales person bears responsibility as well.  He had so little pride in what he was doing, that he did not bother to look at the documents and fix them.  He never bothered to look at the references and where the links went to.  He was simply going through the motions, but not paying attention to what he was doing.

A few days ago, I wrote about doing your homework.  Doing your homework extends to your own materials, proposals and other collateral.  Make sure they respond to what the customer has requested.  Make sure they present the image of the company that you want to present.  If they don’t take the time to fix it.

Sales people cannot just go through the motions!  True professionals take pride in what they do, execute with precision, and always present themselves and their companies professionally.  I like being around professionals, they make me want to be better.  Every encounter with companies and sales people that aren’t discourages me.  If they are sales people, it makes me ashamed to be called a sales person.

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. I enjoyed the post! You know, I was just called by a sales lady who didn’t do her homework — and not even homework about me, or my company’s website address (she didn’t know either, although both are published online), but she didn’t even know her own product!

    She was pitching SEO through reciprocal link building. Which Google frowns on (her method may actually HURT my business..!?). Further, she didn’t even know who Matt Cutts is (the leading resource of her industry) or what he says about 3 way linking. I mean – why would I buy something from someone who knows nothing about me, my business, or even her product/service?

    It’s all about targeting! First, know your customer. Then, give them what they want. Customized. It’s surprising how frequently salespeople ignore the basic princple…!

    Great article! Looking forward to your next!! Best,

    Glenn Friesen | Customer Service Training
    Impact Learning Systems
    Customer Service Twitter

  2. Nice job Dave,

    You very clearly summed up a Major problem, especially found on the Internet Today.
    Spending the past 50 years marketing and consulting Off-line, I was a bit chagrined at the Poor performance of so many, with GOOD products and Programs.
    I guess the idea if you throw enough %ˆ&*, some will stick,
    and the internet does deal in large Numbers.

    Thank you again for the well written post

  3. Chuck, Glenn: Thanks so much for your comments. Unfortunately, I think we all see too much of this from too many sales people. It’s embarassing and no wonder why customers don’t want to talk to us.

    When doing your homework and presenting yourself professionally is so easy with the tools available, why don’t people use them?

    Thanks for your comments.


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