Sales appointments and the mistakes some sales people make when trying to qualify sales appointments, don't assume anything.
I must have gone on tens of thousands of sales appointments over the years but it is the appointments where I didn't make a sale that stand out in my memory. Thirty years ago, I was selling life assurance, in my late twenties, single and earning around twenty five grand a year. I owned my own house, was my own boss and life was one hysterical adventure. Things however didn't always go to plan.
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Mike and I would often go on appointments together; it wasn't the most efficient of ways of working but we were in it for the laughs. We met all sorts on our travels; most we liked and liked us and as people buy people, we usually did business with them. Occasionally we came across potential clients where the chemistry didn't gel and on these occasions, we normally withdrew tactfully.
One night, I accompanied Mike on an appointment that he had made with the young wife of a potential client. We arrived and she invited us into the lounge where her equally young husband was sitting at the dining table. Within a couple of minutes it became obvious that he was without humour and had an exceptionally high opinion of himself.
The house was the smallest first time buyers house you could ever hope to find. The type where you didn't need a remote control to change television channels or get out of your chair to turn out the light. The car parked in the drive was not an expensive model and the furniture had seen better days, so it was fair to assume that they were struggling financially.
However, despite our best attempts to create any form of friendly relationship, he remained pugnacious, arrogant and derisory about door to door salesman. It was obvious that we weren't going to do any business nor want him as a client and the Mike asked. "What exactly do you do for a living Mr Evans?" Normally we would have been on first name terms very quickly but he had instructed us to address him as Mister. "I'm a young executive." Was his response.
It was always a bad idea for Mike and I to catch each others eyes at moments like this but we both turned slightly towards each other as a result of this ridiculous description of his line of work and burst into uncontrollable laughter. All we could do was pack up our bags and stagger out and up his drive still laughing at the absurdity of it all.
NEVER TAKE YOUR DOG ON AN APPOINTMENT
One evening I had the task of accompanying a new salesman on an appointment. It was in a particularly bad area of Brighton, the type of estate where you could go into a house and come out to find your car no longer had any wheels.
We arrived in due course and as the door was opened by the occupant, an Alsatian cross breed pushed past us and preceded us into the lounge. It was the type of house where you wiped your feet on the way out, the armchairs and sofas were greasy and sticky, so we perched on the edge of the cushions and declined the offer of a cup of tea. In fact, I decide to try and extract ourselves as quickly and politely as possible.
Whilst we were making small talk, the dog had been prowling around, sniffing everyone and the furniture, then cocked its leg up against the sideboard and relieved itself, eventually settling down in the corner. We all noticed, the husband and wife looked at each other but said nothing and it wasn't our place to remark so the incident went pretty much ignored.
Within fifteen minutes, I had ascertained and persuaded the couple that we could not be of any assistance to them and got up to leave. When we got to the front door the wife said "Aren't you going to take your dog with you?" Having explained that we thought the dog belonged to them, we left hurriedly and thankful that the car was still in a driveable condition.
One sales appointment I didn't attend but would have loved to go on was one where Mike and I prepared the quote. Graham Sandhurst our branch manager and the butt and victim of many a prank asked for our assistance. He had a friend who was interested in starting a ten year savings plan and Graham, who rarely sold anything didn't know how to work the figures out and asked for our help.
Considering some of the practical jokes we had pulled on Graham, this was not the wisest of moves. We prepared a sales presentation folder with the appropriate brochures, literature and number of alternative quotes and then placed them into a glossy folder. Knowing that Graham wouldn't bother to check the paperwork, we stapled the centrefold from a Playboy or similar magazine into one of the quotation folders.
We took the whole thing into his office and asked him if he needed us to go through the whole thing but he waived us away without so much of a thank you, which was exactly what we expected.
The following morning Mike and I were summonsed to Graham's office for the usual good natured bollocking but he refused to enhance our pleasure by telling us what had happened.
Never the less, we had many adventures and pulled off numerous practical jokes whilst out
selling life insurance.