Tag Archives: sales

My unsolicited sales advice finds two audiences.

2 Oct

On my way to Safeway this weekend, I got stopped by a guy with a clipboard who was trying to gain support for an anti-hate crime support. Usually I walk past sidewalk campaigners, but for whatever reason, I allowed him to engage me.

His memorization of statistics was impressive, and his delivery of the message was smooth, but it ran a bit long. I cut him off, saying, “I believe in your cause, but I make a practice of only giving online. Do you have a web address I could go to?”

Instead of answering my question, he pulled out a form for sidewalk donations and started a long pitch for how they’re “only looking for a modest donation of a dollar a day…” Still trying to be polite, I said, “Again, I won’t give money on the street, but if you have a URL I’ll visit it when I get home.”

And again, he didn’t answer my question but instead plowed forward with his pitch, trying to close me  to make an on-the-spot donation. It pissed me off, and although I tend to be a polite person, I realized that if he wasn’t going to listen to me, I wasn’t going to listen to him. So I just raised my hand, said, “You need to learn to listen,” and walked away, muttering “asshole” under my breath.

Apparently I’m not good at turning off my job, because it wasn’t the first piece of sales advice I offered this weekend.

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Business advice, free of charge.

9 Feb

I recently got into a discussion with a friend about titles. Not house titles or book titles, but professional titles. As in, what does your business card say?

My friend was bemoaning the fact that her company uses titles that make sense internally, but don’t in any way correlate to the outside world. Namely, to their customers.

“I’m pretty high up in my organization,” she told me, “but my title says manager so whenever I’m negotiating with a client, their response is generally, ‘let me talk to your boss.'”

I can relate. I work for a company that doesn’t place a lot of importance in a person’s title, so we all roll with what we’re handed. For the most part it works, except that I generally am negotiating with Vice Presidents. Little do they know that in my world, everyone is empowered to help them, and “manager” means it’s generally within my jurisdiction to stop the buck.

Anyway. Back to my friend. She asked if I thought she was making a mountain out of a molehill, or if it was a legitimate beef.

My response?

First, I think it’s fine to have TWO titles. To internally have a title that conveys your function and speaks to the progressiveness of the organization, if you work for a flat organization. But when it comes to the outside world? Hell no. You need to speak the same language and translate your competency into terms your clients can understand.

You ask for respect in how you present yourself, and a title is part of that. Poor titles mean you spend a decent part of every first conversation trying to establish your credibility and defend your position. It’s a waste of time.

As I told my friend: “You wouldn’t expect to be treated with respect if you went to the doctor, pointed to your crotch and say ‘my hoohoo is broken,’ would you?”

No? Exactly.

Use words fit within your clients’ vocabulary. Otherwise, brace to have many lame hoohoo conversations.

You’ve been warned.