As a business owner, I get the responsibility of selecting the products, goods, and services we are going to pay for. Since returning home to run the business, I have been the recipient of sales tactics so egregious they would make Og Mandino roll over in his grave.
Here are three things I have learned over the past two years. I hope you can learn from my mistakes.
1) “I Want Leads Without Having to Work for Them”
: I call this lazy salesman the Slug
. I recently had someone call me and request a face-to-face meeting, which I said yes to. He said he wanted to come hear about my business. We chatted for about 30 minutes when this individual, who had printed out my list of LinkedIn contacts, proceeded to ask me to go over them line by line, and tell him which connection might need his services. Lesson learned: Ensure you get specifics as to who your visitor is and why exactly it is they are coming to see you. Also, don’t give in to his prospecting method. This is how this person ended up calling me
2) “I Will Lie on my Business Card to Gain Your Trust”:
There’ll be a special place in Sales Hell for people such as this. You would think their business cards would go up in flames before they’d even reach a potential client’s hand. I call this lying salesman the Snake
. I recently had a business print “BBB certified” on their business cards when I fact they had an “F” rating and were the endless source of customer complaints on blog boards. Lesson learned: ALWAYS look up someone or something on the Better Business Bureau website and/or any other search platform before entering into any type of agreement. Just because they print it doesn’t mean it’s true.
3) “I Will Over Promise and Under Deliver just to keep enough money coming in so I can buy a new iPad or tech gadget. Then I’ll move onto someone else”
: I call this opportunistic and scavenging salesman the Jackal
. This is especially prevalent among social media “gurus” who claim to be able to boost your SEO visibility to the ends of the galaxy, make you go viral at the speed of light, and promise to create a website that will draw them in like the Death Star’s tractor beam. They spout out questions about what analytics you are using (you fool!), how clunky and lame your existing website and backend software is, and how you’ve got to add value, value, value!!! Lesson learned: If you’ve got more Twitter followers and Facebook fans than those doing the pitch, you might want to pass. And just be sure that you get verifiable references from clients who can trace the work back to a specific metric. Question: How can you tell if someone is a social media expert? Answer: If they say so.
These real-life situations cost me tens of thousands of dollars and weeks of valuable time. I get convicted when I think of what I could have done with those resources had I taken the time to really do my homework, but I know that I learned valuable lessons about how to maneuver myself in the world of unethical salespeople. They’ll have to deal with their own accountability when the time comes. So beware slugs, snakes, and jackals! The next time one of you crosses my path I’m going to open up a can of salt, mongoose, screaming eagle, and/or whoop ass and take you down!