Confessions of a travelling salesman…

We all have formative experiences that we've learnt from – here’s one of mine:

We knew they were right for our event – they were a major player and had the potential to make a huge impact at the show and a significant return on investment.

But they wouldn’t take our calls.

So, my sales manager decided we should turn up at their showroom & talk them into it. Catch them unawares!

‘Is that really a good idea?’ I remember thinking ‘if they’re not taking our calls doesn’t that tell us something?’ I kept my feelings to myself. I was a newbie and only a few months into this job.

My manager must know what he’s doing, and he did seem very sure of himself. I was eager to learn from him.

So off we go.

We arrive at their showroom…

“Hi, is Mike there please?”

Mike appears, looking slightly taken aback to see us standing in reception. He knows who we are from running into each other at previous events.

After a brief chat the conversation turns to business.

Mike is the son of the owner and starts to look a bit uncomfortable when he realises the reason for our visit.

We start to pitch him, in a light-hearted playful way saying how good this event will be for business.

My enthusiastic manager can’t contain his excitement and is waving the contract in the air with hot anticipation!

The conversation doesn’t really go to plan.

The playful approach dries up.

His father, Alan appears, and we start pitching them together.

Alan, a no-nonsense kind of guy quickly loses his temper.


We refuse to move.

“Come on Alan – you know this is going to be great for business.” replies my relentless manager.

He bellows again for us to get out. This could turn nasty.

My manager looks at me and I can see a fight or flight response wash over him.

There was a real disappointment in his eyes – the notable imbalance in the potential relationship clearly hurt him on a personal level.

His ambush hasn’t worked.

So, he quickly stuffs the contract that he had out ready to sign (got to love the assumptive close) back into his briefcase.

We get thrown out on the street and told never ever to come back!

“They’ll be fine in a few weeks.” my manager mutters as we head back to the car.

I remember admiring his positive outlook & tenacity but at the same time thinking "surely there must be a better way…”

Moral of the story: even if a potential client looks like the perfect fit some people will just never buy...particularly if you rub them up the wrong way!

So, move on…as we did here. Albeit under duress.

They never did come to our event…

Any other cringe sales stories out there?

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