Quickly, Sales & Marketing 101: Never make assumptions about your market.
This is so obvious, yet so overlooked as we are human that I had to write about it. I’m sure there will be some of you that go, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, Jeff: I got it: don’t make assumptions about your customer.” And this will be a great reminder about why you shouldn’t.
My cousin is a blue suit Executive at a large transport company. She’s done well there. She developed an interest in buying a big RV trailer for glamping purposes. She walks into one of the big stores, and points to one (while admittedly knowing nothing about the product), and says, “I’ll take that one.”
Joe Q. Sales Guy comes up to “help” her. He “helps” her by condescending down to her, hemming and hawing with her, not at all taking my cousin — the business executive! — seriously, telling her his story (as if she gives two shits about him), and in under 10 minutes, 100% talks his way out of the sale! 💯
[Cue the fake applause track here.]
“Way to go, Joe Q.!“ You’ve just made the sales profession look that much worse. And on top of it, you 100% reinforced our often well-deserved reputation as a bunch of condescending liars and hucksters and selfish and unhelpfuls who are just in it for us.
Joe. Q: where did you go wrong!?
If I am Joe Q.’s sales manager, I smack him upside the head. (Yes, really. Some slight corporal punishment is probably a good idea here, especially in RV dealer sales environments.) And demand to know what idiot thoughts he was thinking while he was busy mistreating my cousin the business executive who doesn’t take shit from anybody as that is one of the key reasons why she’s risen to the executive ranks in a hyper competitive company / industry!?
Joe Q!? Do you have a good answer for us here!?
Here is a list of things Joe Q. Salesman did kinda, sorta, not really in trying to sell shiny, new Patriot RVs to a cool person with money ready to buy Today:
Let’s create a list of the things that Joe Q. Did wrong in this every day sales interaction we’re all very familiar with. A sorta post-mortem of what should have been a home run, write-em-up sale for Joe:
-Joe was condescending in tone.
Never do this. Dumb. Dumb. Dumb. Your customer is WAY smarter than you are. Especially my cousin, the hyper-competitive business executive. I promise you, she will not suffer foolish salespeople.
-Joe told his story to her.
Customers don’t care about you. I don’t know how many times I have to say it. Especially in a retail context, customers really don’t care about you. Nobody remembers who their last car / RV salesperson was.
*Guys, they can buy all this stuff online from software — not from you!* Never forget that!
-Joe was not at all interested in what she wanted.
This is so basic it is laughable. If you’re in sales & marketing, you have to ONLY be interested in what your prospects and customers want. Otherwise, what the hell are you doing here!? No customer cares about what you want. Customers only care about what they want. You do the same thing when you go to buy something big ticket: houses, cars, RVs, big vacation, etc.
-Joe broke Rule #1 in sales & marketing: *Be Likable*.
He couldn’t even be likable. Guys, if you cannot be likable, do the entire world a favor and get the hell out of sales and marketing because you’re making the world a worse place every day for all of us. Go work at the box factory two towns over.
If you’re not likable, you’re going to have a helluva time selling. And — far worse — you’re simply going to piss a lot of customers off who will then walk across the street (or hop online) and buy from your competitor just to spite you.
If you don’t believe that, I have a case study: my cousin the savvy business executive. That’s exactly what she did. She hopped online and bought a $75,000 RV — sight unseen! Didn’t even look at the dang thing in person. Only saw the picture online. And…*SOLD by software*!
Then, a few days later , they dropped off her shiny, new Patriot RV right in her driveway for all to see, and to make the all the Joneses next door envious & jealous & covetous of her shiny, new Patriot RV.
And here’s the Kicker…
Oh, and guess where she’s NOT sending all of her now envious, jealous, and covetous neighbors to now go buy their shiny, new Patriot RVs to keep up with her? NOT to XYZ RV dealer that mistreated her! Nope. That dealer can burn to the ground for all she cares. (Really. Yes. That’s exactly how she feels because she told me.)
Quick aside — I just hopped online and read this review that I wanted to include in this piece because it seemed rather poignant:
I contacted multiple camper dealerships before settling on XYZ RV DEALER. Colleen was the first salesperson I spoke to *that I didn’t find rude*. I was relieved to find a place that had a nice salesperson to work with! She was knowledgeable and so helpful! I love that she in no way pressured me to buy what I bought.
— Chelsea from New Prague, MN
Wait for it……”Colleen was the first salesperson I spoke to that I didn’t find rude! I was relieved to find a place that had a nice salesperson to work with!”
Yes, sometimes the sales bar really is that low…
Seems that my cousin isn’t the only customer at XYZ RV DEALER that has had trouble with their sales folks. BTW, if you’re the branch manager or especially if you’re the family owner of the dealership, wouldn’t you just want to wring your sales guy’s necks over stuff like this? I mean, I do and I don’t even work for the guy!
YOU HAVE PEOPLE WHO ARE JUST WAITING TO GIVE YOU MONEY, AND YOU ARE BEING STUPID-RUDE TO THEM FOR NO REASON AT ALL!!!
Re-read what Chelsea from New Prague, MN, wrote above. People never forget how you made them feel.
What’s it gonna take? Well, I can tell you, in my particular case, I’m taking my smart & savvy cousin’s route and buying online. If sales people are just gonna be rude idiots to otherwise cool people with money — to proven, good-paying customers with MONEY!!! — I don’t want to do business with them.
Do you? I mean, what’s the point?
Here’s the secret that you’re not even supposed to have to teach…
As sales & marketing professionals, we’re not even supposed to have to teach Rule #1. You’re supposed to have the brains and smarts and overall upbringing to figure out “be likable” on your own. Not everybody did, clearly, and certainly not Joe Q. In this case. In this case, a cardboard cut-out sales person or a chicken would have been better for my cousin than Joe.
This may qualify as one of those, “you like workin’ here? “ conversations for Joe Q. Maybe he doesn’t take the job seriously at all. I’m sure his sales #’s reflect that. That sort of thing is almost always reflected in the historic sales data.
The really weird thing is, all he had to do was say, “Let’s get you written up!” and ring the damn bell! And then “earn” his thousands in commission off of that ~ $75,000 shiny, new Patriot RV. (Gotta be some margin in there…) But he didn’t. Nope. Wasn’t smart enough. He had to prove how smart he was to my cousin first. And she could not have given two-shits less.
Is it just me, or could A.I. have done this better than Joe Q.?
## Here is the other Kicker…the secrets & lies of the inside RV world continue.
I don’t mean hammer on this — WAIT, I DO mean to hammer on this because it is SO fundamental, SO important: my cousin will now go and tell 10, 15, 25, 50 other people her negative story about XYZ RV dealer and what jerks they were to her and how they should never , ever in 1,000 years buy from them! DUH! 🙄 Of course, she’s going to bad-mouth them to anyone who will listen!
It is human nature to bad-mouth a retail store after you’ve had a bad experience there.
Why? Because it is human nature — you do the same thing whenever you have a negative retail experience. You go and tell 10, 15, 25 of your friends and family to never buy from the jerks at XYZ retail store because well, they were jerks to me and I walked outta that joint right quick and bought from their competitor just to spite them!
Amazing, the lessons learned in a fast 10 minute sales interaction gone bad. Just gone terribly wrong right outta the gate. But the lessons are there for the taking.
Never forget Rule #1: *Be Likable*.
If you cannot even do Rule #1, then please leave the sales & marketing profession for good and go make boxes at the box factory two towns over.