One of the blessings/curses to working from home is that door-to-door salesman are hard to avoid. Because I am in sales and have been in sales for many years, my heart goes out to these guys every time they knock on my door. This week I had two very different experiences of these sales guys that I wanted to share with you.
Experience #1 – The Lawn Guy
Early Thursday afternoon a very nice looking guy knocked on my door and introduced himself. He had a clipboard, but nothing else in his hand, and no vehicle in sight. He asked if I had a moment to chat about my lawn. I will admit, it needed a cut, but other than that it is a beautiful green, mostly from a few afternoons of letting my Little Divas play in the sprinklers. But, because I am in sales, I figured I would be open to his schpeel before I made a decision.
He immediately started in on what was WRONG with my yard, pulling the grass blades apart, showing my the dirt, etc. Everything that he said made sense – I am no Lawn Expert, so I believed him. The pricing on the service was reasonable, so I signed up for them to begin the first week in June. He said one of his Representatives would be calling me to confirm my order.
Within 15 minutes of him leaving, my phone began to ring. Over the course of the next 4 hours, I missed THIRTEEN CALLS. Around 5 pm or so I received another knock. It was my same Lawn Guy asking why I wasn’t answering the phone. As if THAT wasn’t bad enough, I politely said “I am sorry, as I told you I work from home, and I have been working on the phone all afternoon. If you would please tell them to call me around lunch time tomorrow, that is the best time for me to talk.” Within the next 2 hours, I missed another 4 calls.
The following day my phone began to ring at 7:45 in the morning. Now, Friday is my one day I week that I try to sleep in. I am certain that the lawn people didn’t know this, but this was part of the reason I asked him to wait until lunch time. I wanted to have a leisure morning. No such luck. I did not answer the call, but I was also unable to fall back asleep.
Between 7:45 and noon – 6 missed calls. When I did finally answer the call, I was going through the confirmation process and at the end, the conversation goes south:
“I need to inform you that your first service will have two billable services – one for the lawn and one for chinch bugs”
“Wait, I don’t HAVE chinch bugs”
“Yes, but we don’t want you to GET chinch bugs”
“But I have NEVER had chinch bugs, I have an exterminator for the entire property”
“well, you need to understand that this is a process that you agreed to, and it is part of getting your lawn in shape”
“Actually, what I agreed to was one service, each month, at this price. I am not paying for a second service that I do not need, and more importantly, why did the SALES GUY not say that so I could make that decision before you called? I feel a bit blindsided, what will keep you from continuing to throw in extra, unnecessary services on my with no warning? I am not sure I still want this service, I will talk to my husband and call you back.”
Over the course of the next 24 hours – 12 missed calls, 2 voicemails, including the manager saying he will “waive the additional service.” Ugh. On Monday I call back to say basically “Thanks but no thanks” and I can not get through to the service line, so I call the sales line, explain my situation, and they HANG UP ON ME! About an hour later, I got through to the service department, explained everything to the receptionist, and (politely) explained that if a manager ever wanted to call me again to get my feedback on how they could improve their sales/customer service, I would be happy to work with them
Experience #2 – The Children’s Book Guy
Just a few minutes ago I heard the same “door bell” of dogs barking – there was someone at the door. I begrudgingly opened my door to see another good looking guy standing on my porch. He had a backpack slung over one shoulder, and his little blue beat up car parked in front of my house. He was dressed casual but had an infectious smile – curly bouncy blonde hair and I think he was literally BOUNCING. I could tell he was excited, so it was hard not to laugh with him as he began to not only talk about him but ask questions about me.
He was a college student from South Dakota, I said “you are a long way from home” where he said “I got lost in Nashville and ended up here” and we both laughed. He began to talk about some of the other people in my neighborhood who he had met – of course trying to build his credibility by name dropping people I may know and trust, which was fine. It’s a good technique.
He then got to his purpose of the Academic Children’s Books he was selling. Now, unfortunately for him, my father is the top Child Psychologist for our city, and he has his own Private Practice which offers every academic program a child could ever need from PreK to Graduate School. So I gently declined his sales pitch, but what I so loved was HE DIDN’T PUSH. He said “gosh, you are right, you do not need my books, and there is nothing worse than spending money on something you truly do not NEED,” I told him I was impressed, that he was probably one of the best door to door salesman I had ever had.
He summed it all up perfectly when he said: “I have never taken a sales course, I just try to be the kind of salesman that I would want to buy from.”
We talked for a few more minutes about the “Art of Sales” and how there is so much training “out there” that lacks the basic fundamentals of the selling process. What was funny was every time we made a point on something that really rang true – he stuck his hand up for a high-five. The guy really was adorable. He made my whole experience enjoyable – even though I never bought a thing. I DID however take his card, and offer to show it to my Dad and maybe they could meet to look at putting the books in my Dad’s office. The truth is my Father would be a much better contact for this guy, and probably yield much more success than him simply knocking on doors.
Experience #1 left me with a bad taste in my mouth about the company the first salesman represented. At my cookout on Saturday I explained to all of my friends what had happened and even heard a few similar stories back. I happily set out to Lowe’s on Sunday morning and enjoyed the sunshine as I treated my lawn – even for chinch bugs – for about 1/2 the price of the Lawn Service.
Experience #2 left me feeling great, smiling about giving a stranger about 6 “high fives”, and excited to share the information with my Dad, and recommend he check the products out – not for the products (honestly I didn’t look at them that closely) but because I was that impressed with the EXPERIENCE of the sales process. It is from that EXPERIENCE that I will continue to recommend he and his company.
The bottom line was exactly what the second salesman said – “I just try to be the kind of salesman that I would want to buy from.” Though he didn’t do all the “steps” to the sales process, he made the experience enjoyable, he didn’t push, and he was 100% honest throughout our encounter.
There is an art to sales, and it can be a skilled process. But do not get so focused on the sale that you forget the experience.
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