• 17th May 2007 - By proteman

    Scene 1:

    Our living room, the night before a sales appointment.

    A few weeks ago my husband and I were in the market for new windows for our home. My husband got a referral for a window contractor and scheduled an appointment in our home at dinner time the next day. My husband told me:

    - He was just getting an estimate.
    - He expected the job to cost around $20,000.
    - We really needed to get it done soon.

    Fast forward to the end of this story…

    We signed a contract for almost $30,000 that night…then cancelled the whole contract the next morning. What happened? It’s a good lesson for salespeople on buyer’s remorse – and what happens when you take shortcuts to close a sale quickly. Read on for the rest of the story…

    Scene 2: The Set Up
    Walking through the house, while Mom (me) is distracted

    My husband greets the friendly salesman at the door. I’m distracted with our baby (and trying to finish some work email), so I suggest that the guys (my husband and the salesman) walk around the house and discuss the job.

    I hear bits and pieces of their conversation. It sounds low-key and friendly. Occasionally my husband asks my opinion and I try my best to jump in (but my hands are literally full). He asks, “What kind of door would you prefer here?” “Should we replace the bedroom windows while we’re at it?” The job was growing…but what the heck, we were just getting an estimate. Let’s see what it’ll cost, I thought.

    Scene 3: The “Divide and Conquer” Tactic
    The husband and wife try to talk in the kitchen…

    When the house walk is done, my husband and the salesman sit at the dining room table to go over numbers. It comes out to over $30,000, more than $10,000 more than we’d anticipated spending. My husband and I try to talk in private in our kitchen, but the salesman can hear us. I ask my husband quietly, “Did you plan on spending that kind of money?” “I thought we were just getting an estimate.” “Are you ready to sign now?” “Why don’t we wait and think about this, or cut some stuff out. We don’t really need all of this, do we?”

    Sensing that his sale was in jeapordy, the salesman interrupted our private conversation and told my husband that “he needed to show him something in the other room.” Separating the husband and the wife. One of the oldest tricks in the book!

    Scene 4: The “Sign Today or Else” Threat
    Back at the dining room table…

    When my husband returns with the salesman, he tries to close us again by telling us what a great deal he’s giving us. He says we’re getting “free installation, which has a several hundred dollar value.” He tells us it’s because he’s the company’s sales trainer…and we’re a referral (implying he’s doing us a personal favor).

    I say, “We’d like to think about it overnight. How about if we let you know tomorrow or on the weekend?”

    The salesman says, “That’s fine, but it’ll cost you more. It’s the end of our quarter tomorrow and we need to get this order in. And if I don’t sign you today, I’ll have to send a real commissioned salesman out tomorrow…and we’ll have to tack on a commission. If you buy today, you’re getting the job commission-free.”

    Scene 5: We Sign…But with an Escape

    Haggling at the dining room table, while baby cries.

    I ask if we can change our minds, if we sign today. The salesman says of course…and shows us the cancellation clause in the contract. We have three days to change our order or cancel.

    So we sign, knowing that we’re probably going to change the order anyway. (I know…dumb move. In hindsight, it’s very clear that we should have just thrown him out the door. I don’t know why we didn’t.)

    Scene 6: We Get Mad and Cancel
    Later that evening, in the bedroom…

    After dinner we’re getting ready for bed and decide to put the issue to rest. We talk about what happened. As my husband and I recount the scenario, we get mad. And madder. Until we’re so ticked off at the guy’s sales tactics that we decide to cancel the whole job…even though the company was recommended highly and we really needed windows. We figured we could get them somewhere else. And we’d rather spend more to work with someone we trust and respect.

    My husband and I felt good about our decision. More important, our relationship was in tact. And I took away a few lessons…

    • Salespeople: Don’t shortcut a sale. You might make a “deal,” but it won’t be a good one.
    • Customers: If the sale doesn’t feel right, trust your instinct. If you feel pushed, you probably are.
    • Sales Organizations: Be careful about the messages you convey to your salesforce. If you pressure salespeople to close everything by the end of the quarter, you’re likely to get “bad sales.” They’ll cost you in the long run. Reward good, solid sales that stick.

    © 2007. Phyllis Roteman, The Loyalty Group. All Rights Reserved.

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