“Well It Worked, Didn’t It?”


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I’m constantly amazed by the misrepresentations, lies, and trickery sales people use to reach a customer–either to get a customer to answer the phone or to arrange a meeting. Every time, I think I know all the approaches and can protect myself from the offending sales person, someone gets through my defenses and with some sort of new trick.

Not long ago, I got an email from a sales person asking for a few minutes of my time. I decided to speak with him, primarily because in his email he said, “I was speaking to Mr. So and So, and he said I should really talk to you, that you would be very interested in speaking with me.” Turns out Mr. So and So (I just call him So) is a very close friend. He used to work for me a number of years ago, and we continue to find excuses to work together.

The appointed time came, when he called I asked, “How do you know Mr. So and So? What work have you done with him?” There was a short pause, and the sales person responded, “Well, I really don’t know Mr. So and So, but I’d like to talk to you about………..”

“Hold on, I said, you mean you lied to me about your relationship with So to get me to accept a call?”

Without a beat, the sales person responded, “Well it worked, didn’t it?”

Normally not at a loss for words, I was stunned for a moment. The sales person was caught in an obvious lie, and didn’t seem chagrined or concerned about it. He had the audacity to rationalize his lie with “Well it worked, didn’t it?” (Haven’t I hread something about the end justifying the means?)

I couldn’t help myself, rather than hanging up, I decided to go into attack mode, I kept speaking with him.

I responded, “Well, I’m not sure, it depends what your objective is. What are you trying to achieve?”

This took the sales person back for a moment, “Well I’m trying to reach people to pitch my products and get you to them.”

I decided to break things down a little (I really am a jerk when you get down to it), I asked, “Let me understand better, was your objective to get people to answer the phone and have a conversation with you or was your objective to find customers that might want to buy your product and engage them in a conversation to buy–ultimately getting an order?”

Poor guy was getting a little frustrated, he had lost control, all he wanted to do was pitch his product. He stuttered, “Well I have to get people on the phone first, then I want to try to sell my product.”

So I asked, “So is that working now?”

He replied quickly, “If you give me the chance to talk, I can explain my product to you.”

I interupted him, “Did you come up with this prospecting technique yourself or is this something your management has asked you to do?”

“We all do it, our managers tell us to do whatever it takes to get someone on the phone,” he replied. I could tell he saw recognized his prospects were plummeting and I was just taking his time.

Anticipating that we were coming to the end of our call, I asked again. “You said your approach to me worked. all I want to know is, Did you achieve your objective?”

He was pissed at me, so he flared up, “Well I got you on the phone didn’t I?

I responded, “You are absolutely right, if your objective was to get me on the phone you achieved that. But you told me you were trying to find customers that would be interested in buying from you. Do you think your approach allows you to achieve that objective?”

He must have gotten a second wind, I do give him credit for audacity, he replied, “Well I have you on the phone, if you just give me a chance to tell you about my product, I’m sure I could get you to buy.”

I stopped him. “No, it’s pointless to continue. You lied to me to get me on the phone. You could never sell me anything because our short relationship was based on your attempts to deceive me–so you haven’t accomplished your objective and your approach reallydidn’t work. Presumably you don’t get paid if I pick up the phone and answer your call. You only get paid if I buy. So you have failed miserably.”

Well the conversation stopped.

His approach while a little more extreme than other approaches I’ve encountered, unfortunately is far too common. Sales people–being mis-directed by their managers or some so called sales guru employ whatever techniques possible to get someone to answer a phone and engage in a conversation. They feel a flush of success (and probably pay the “guru”) based on getting people to answer the phone. They rationalize their tricks with the excuse, “Well it worked, didn’t it?”

Somehow, they miss the point. For sales, the goal isn’t to get someone to answer the phone. The goal is to find and interest customers in what you are selling. Their approach never achieves that goal.

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.


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