A Revised View of Salespeople
Looking past the annoyance, I admit some reps prove to be more valuable to business than previously thought.
I have a confession to make: I hate salespeople. I know, technically I am one, but I am not a time-sucking, cold-calling type of salesperson.
I’m sure you also have to put up with the daily robo calls about merchant processing, or there are the relentless calls about “your online listing needs updating.” I used to shudder when the phone rang and the caller ID showed “unknown” or an out-of-state call. Now, I have learned to say certain keywords that almost always get me removed from the call lists.
For example: “No, the owners are not in the building. We actually are corporate owned.” Nine times out of 10 they hang up and don’t call back. I love when they ask for the location of the corporate headquarters. For some reason my corporate headquarters tend to move around a lot. One phone call it’s in Key West, Fla., and the next phone call it’s in Las Vegas. Why does this work? You see, their time is important, so they are not going to waste it trying to pitch to a huge conglomerate that has a buying system in place. See the irony there? They don’t want to waste any time.
I feel the same way about the industry-related salespeople who tromp in my door with no appointment to show me the latest and greatest pet item. All they are going to do is waste my time as I try to get them out the door. I want to independently research a product. I want to know a product has some chatter behind it. Chances are they are not showing me anything new. I already saw it in Pet Product News or other industry publications, or heard about it in a pet lover’s forum.
Recently, however, I had two encounters with salespeople that made me rethink my avoidance and hatred policy. The first was a merchant services guy. Can you believe that a merchant services salesperson got through all my systems and was able to talk to me? Well, sort of. The salesperson’s appointment setter called when I was out and was able to sweet talk the clerk into setting up an appointment with me in the store. Fast-forward a few days ... I walk in the door and the clerk says, “Oh, by the way, you have an appointment in a half hour.” I think I finished yelling and screaming just in time for the salesperson to walk in the door, and I said, “You’re wasting your time and my time. I’m happy with my credit card processor, and I’m not changing.”
Fast-forward a couple weeks later, and I have a new credit card processor that truly is giving me a better rate. It was a hard battle for that salesperson, but he was able to show me the data, and a few meetings later, I gave him the business. It’s early, but so far it seems to have been a good move.
The second encounter was a cold-call salesperson. I was minding my own business in the store, and I saw him walking up the parking lot from a mile away. It’s never good to see somebody coming in with a sample case. I thought to myself, “What newbie distributor rep am I getting ready to throw out of my store?” Turns out he was an owner of a small dog-yogurt company located about 10 minutes away from my store. The product is fantastic, sourced wonderfully and manufactured in a home-style setup minutes from me. After some research and trials, I brought the product in, and I’ve already reordered.
These experiences reminded me of years ago when I was venting my salesperson frustration to my father, who also happens to be a salesperson. He stopped me and pulled out a little cartoon from his desk. The cartoon showed a soldier getting ready to head out to battle with his trusty sword while a salesperson stands behind him with his foot up on a machine gun. The soldier is saying to another, “Machine gun? Never heard of it. Send him away, I have a battle to fight!”
Based on my recent experiences, I might have to quit looking at salespeople as the enemy and, instead, see if they can help me fight my battles. Geez, I feel dirty just saying that … It’s going to take time.
B.C. Henschen, a certified pet care technician and an accredited pet trainer, is a partner in Platinum paws, a full-service pet salon and premium pet food store in Carmel, Ind. His knowledge of the pet food industry makes Platinum Paws the go-to store for pet owners who want more for their pet than a bag off a shelf.
This article originally appeared in March 2016 Pet Product News.