Friday, November 19, 2010

Salesperson Rant

I really dislike meeting with Yellow Page reps. I really don't know how effective yellow page advertising is, but in my gut I don't feel like it's very effective to have a full page color ad vs. a simple free listing. So let's just say the company I work for was spending $XX,XXX.XX on yellow page advertising when I started here, and they asked me to cut it down 30%. I have achieved that goal and simultaneous become cold-hearted towards the reps. It was a necessary adjustment. Many of them get commissions from their sales, and we are probably a bigger account for many of them, so when I have to cut our spending with them in half or cancel completely in order to achieve the overall budget goal (aka do my job), I do imagine the stress they might be going through as they see their paycheck shrinking. I have imagined them having to break the news to their spouse, having lean Christmases with their children, and having small moments of personal despair and failure. Ok, I know my company's account can't mean that much to them, but I did try to have a heart and be understanding.

At first I had a hard time telling them we need to cut back. I would notice that look in their eyes and read into their personal disappointment, but fight to remain professional. I had to build up a callous to it. And you know what, I've decided that if I'm going to do my job, I've got to be stronger, and if their job gets to the point where it sucks that bad, they can find a new job!!!! This realization has helped me build that emotional fence that has now become akin to the Great Wall of China, just in a metaphorical emotional barrier sense. When I meet with them now, I decide ahead of time what we are going to spend with them and I tell them, "We need to cut this down from $1200 a month to $300." I picture myself like a square-jawed 5 star army general. I am not budging on this, all the while knowing if we can get it down to less than $600 we'll be in the clear. Then they feel like you've given them something, you see? Hah.

Although I have grown a lot and become better at this aspect of my job, I still dislike these meetings. Each time having to sit through the jargon of, "We just want to do whats best for your business," and, "We have a great new Internet program that will boost your search engine results!," and, "If you buy this a quarter-column triple line color ad and you put a bold listing in the white pages, you get the discount on this other 1/2 page display ad." (their pricing matrix is a web of confusion intended to hurt you).

Usually, a rep will call and make an appointment to meet and discuss advertising. I always ask if we can just review it over email or fax - this cuts down on the jargon. Some of them say that the company they work for requires that we meet in person (not part of this rant, but, if that is less convenient for your customer, then your policy sucks!). For those, I make appointments.

However, when I receive a call from our receptionist (I can hear it in her voice because she knows how I feel about these people), "So and so is here to see you about yellow page advertising." I glance at my planner. No appointment. I have always agreed to meet with them despite how I shouldn't have to. I think about the company's image and trying to imagine them as customers, spending lots of money at our stores and telling their friends about us in their off time.

Today I gained a small satisfaction. I was on a conference call for over an hour this afternoon. I noticed the receptionist tried to buzz me three times during that hour, but because I was using my phone I couldn't pick up. When my call was over, she brought up a business card and said that this rep had been waiting to meet with me in the lobby but finally gave up. I didn't recognize her name or the phone directory she worked for. IN YOUR FACE! SHOULD HAVE MADE AN APPOINTMENT!!!!!

I just want to say, if I am YOUR customer, I think it's extremely rude to think I am going to drop everything and listen to your sales pitch. End of story.

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