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I Owe A Sales Person An Apology!

by David Brock on May 30th, 2015

Friday  late afternoon, I was rushing to finish a few things.  My wife and I had planned a nice evening out, but I wanted to clean my physical and virtual desks of work.

The phone rang, a woman asked, “May I speak to Kacey about your payroll issues?”

“Arrgghhh, ” I thought, “some clueless sales person.”

Instead I responded, “Kacey isn’t in.  She’s one of our marketing assistants, and has nothing to do with payroll (though I’m sure she would love to).”

The sales woman responds, “Oh, we were misinformed,  we thought she had payroll responsibility.  Can you tell me who does?”

Impatiently, I responded, “That would be me!  We have no payroll issues, and I have no interest in talking to you.  Your data is all wrong!”  And I hung up.

I feel terrible.  I was abrupt and rude.  (Yes, I know each of you is shocked!)

It wasn’t the sales woman’s fault.  She was just doing her job, she was just following her script, following her list.  She didn’t deserve my impolite response.

Unfortunately, she’s the victim of some clueless marketing program manager.

Someone who bought a terrible list—wasting their organization’s money.  I can imagine no list where Kacey, a fantastic marketing assistant, would show up as being responsible for payroll.

That marketing person didn’t take the time to scrub the list.  A little research would have eliminated Kacey and probably 1000’s of other on the list.  Instead, of taking the time to provide a quality list, a decision to waste endless hours for this sales person, and probably many more, was made.

Because they had to make their call quotas, they ended up wasting my time, undoubtedly that of many others.  And they probably got a lot of the same reactions I had.  No sales person deserves that.

Unfortunately, we see this too often.  Customers getting upset, being abrupt, hanging up on sales people, when it’s really not the sales person’s fault.

Almost always, unless it’s one of these high pressure people, it’s horrible program design, script design that’s clueless, horribly off target lists that haven’t been through any kind of verification or scrubbing.  Poorly thought out and designed programs by some harried marketing person who’s never had to make a call.   Who doesn’t understand the reactions the program may provoke.  Who doesn’t know the hours of sales time that will be wasted.

Sales people are just doing what they’ve been told to do, the way they’ve been told to do it, with the materials and tools they’ve been given.

And they do it enthusiastically, call after call after call.

It’s not their fault, they don’t deserve the abuse, but they’re the one’s who, unfortunately, get it.

To that sales woman, if you read this blog, I’m sorry.  You didn’t deserve my abruptness.   You were pleasant, polite, you just were being told to do the wrong thing–that’s not your fault.

I don’t know if she may read this.  If you are a sales person working for a payroll company staring with “P” and ending with “X,” if you can please pass my apology on to whoever was assigned to call me.  She deserved better from me.

And while you’re at it, tell your marketing people they are failing the sales people, that they need to do a better job.

To all the people who design these programs.  Your sales people want to be successful in implementing your programs.  Give them half a chance by giving them an outstanding program from a high quality, scrubbed list!

To managers of all those people.  Give them the time, funding, and leadership to do a high quality job.  They want to do well, as well.

From → Performance

  1. Answer to Unsolicited permalink

    Answer to “I owe sales woman an apology”:
    It’s worth noting an important point – Tat of course it is obvious to sales people that they are making an unsolicited call, and as such interrupting someone’s work or private time.

    And yet they chose to take such a job, and interrupt strangers over and over again.

    I cannot imagine “being nice” to such a person.

    • I can understand the potential annoyance at the interruption, but perhaps there is another side to this. We are actually in control of “being interrupted.” We choose to pick up the phone or respond to the email. If the sales person uses our time well, if we learn something new, if we find someone who has been helpful, we don’t view it as an interruption. The interruption is annoying when our time is used poorly. Too often, it’s poorly prepared, poorly executing sales people, but sometimes it’s someone else–a colleague, perhaps even a customer.

      But in the end it’s our choice, and we can choose to be interrupted or not.

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