Friday, March 06, 2009

Getting Caught In A Lie --- Why Do Sales People Do This?

I'm sitting in my office doing some work and the phone rings. In answering, some salesperson---doesn't introduce herself asks for (let me call him) Mr. Smith.

I'm taken aback(You'll see why later), I respond, "Mr. Smith isn't available, my name is Dave Brock, I'm the president of the company, who am I speaking with and can I help you?"

She responds with her name and company---actually a fairly well known trade services organization, "No we are really trying to reach Mr. Smith. We spoke to him a couple of months ago about buying some of our services. He asked us to call him back, that he was interested in purchasing the services."

I respond, "Well that seems a little unusual to me, are you sure that you spoke with Mr. Smith?"

She responds, voice going up a little, clearly frustrated, "Yes, I would really like to talk to Mr. Smith. As I said, one of my colleagues spoke to him a couple of months ago. He indicated he was interested in buying our services. We wanted to discuss the next steps with him."

I'm very suspicious---I'll tell you why in a moment, but I respond, "Are you sure you want Mr. Smith? Was it he that your colleague spoke to? Can I help you?"

Her response, clearly frustrated, "Yes, can you please give me his direct number?"

My response, "Well I am very confused, Mr. Smith died over 2 years ago. We keep his bio and name in our web site, clearly marked 'In Memoriam.' So if your colleague really did speak with Mr. Smith, he is using a very long distance number." ("Mr. Smith" would have appreciated the irony.)

There was silence on the line.

I continued, "I'm curious, clearly no one in your company has spoken to Mr. Smith. Someone has apparently harvested names from our web site. but why do you have to lie as part of your prospecting?"

Another moment of silence from her----then somehow we were disconnected, I wonder what happened ;-)

If this were the only case, I'd not make a big deal about it, but I must get at least one call a week with some story--perhaps not as extreme like this. Usually, they ask for me, saying they are following up on the conversation we had a couple of months ago. I ask for when the conversation was, check my telephone log---unfortunately, I keep a log of all calls---then ask why they have to lie as part of the selling approach.

Just when I have hope that sales people are becoming more professional and are not using deception as part of their sales approach, the phone rings and someone is following up on their recent conversation with "Mr. Smith."

Do any of you have similar stories to share?


leftpocket said...

It would be time to stop these poor tricks. Just reading a book like Schiffman's one on cold calling to discover that we can be professional and polite and get a meeting.
Thanks Dave your posts are always very interesting.

Dave Brock's Blog said...

Massimo, thanks for the comment and the compliment. I really appreciate it! I'll have to read Steve's book.