Unsolicited Feedback on your Sales Visit of 2/21
You made three calls prior to your arrival when I’d explained that I would be juggling my work and this appointment (during tech of one of my productions). During these calls, you were chatty but inappropriately so given I’d explained how busy my morning was. Each call involved my giving you the same directions to the parking structure for my building.
Arrival – you walked into my condo and plopped your very large frame down on a chair before invited to do so. There was a dominance of my living space rather than a respectful inquiry- “okay if I sit down?”
Where’s your husband?
This is a wildly inappropriate question for 2021, also given that when booking the appointment I’d agreed that all decision makers would be present. This was especially awkward given that my husband is dead for two years. Questions like that render us to feel invisible as decision makers in our lives and homes. Perhaps this is a sales technique to overpower us by making us feel taken aback.
You don’t need cork.
This is apparently the advice my upstairs neighbors had been given and I’ve listened over the last six months as their adorable puppy has grown into a Shetland pony. You either decided that I couldn’t afford this option, which, by the way, you did assume I couldn’t afford the whispered engineered wood flooring as well. Granted, it is a steep price tag, and again, perhaps this is a sales technique to insult the person by assuming they can’t afford something. I can’t help but ask:
Is it because I’m a single woman in my 60s? Or because I’m a woman?
You left me with no written estimate – I know I was looking for an install date later in May and you did say that we could touch base closer to the time, but a written follow up after the appointment with a breakdown of the products we discussed as well as the cost of the various options for underlay would have been useful in my budgeting. I felt sure you would have given that to a male customer. Incidentally, someone from your company called me a week later to see if I was interested to which I responded: Yes. At that time, I requested an estimate but never received it in spite of the person on the phone saying I would.
Today I reached out to you to request this estimate and when you called me back, there was an insouciant tone when you said “well I never heard from you so I thought you weren’t interested.” I get that you are a casual guy – everything about your presentation indicates that. But….should I be chasing you for a job worth $15,000? I think not.
A few things I hope you’ll keep in mind when you go to sell a product:
- Not every female customer has a partner nor appreciates being asked if she does.
- Even if there’s a male and a female couple, don’t assume the man has all (or even any) of the decision-making power. I have a friend who was planning to do some remodeling and when she had an appointment, invited a male friend over so that the contractor wouldn’t know she lived alone. The contractor addressed all his comments to her friend.
- Follow up with a respectful email or call and the written estimate. That’s how you get the job.
The phone rang this afternoon and it was you returning my call – I thought about reading these points to you, but to what end? To upset you? Instead I decided to really listen to what you were saying instead of spinning out all the judgements I’d written above. Here’s what I heard in what you said:
- An apology for not following up
- Chagrin that the cork I was asking for would cost several thousand dollars more – I listened hard and there was no assumption that I couldn’t afford it – that was my hyper vigilance that insult was intended
- Enthusiasm that we might work together
- Gratitude that I had called – “so many times I never hear back from people”
- Fatigue of going through sales performances for a small return on the large investment of time. In other words, I trotted out some Empathy.
- As a result, when we discussed the cost of the cork, I said “Perhaps we can use the existing cork as the underlayment for the kitchen and hallway and save some there.” To which you replied, “Don’t know why we couldn’t. Cork is cork.” Innovate.
There are also many solid points in my unsolicited advice above about dealing with single women potential customers, but more than a dash of victimhood as well. I might carry forward my feedback when we are in the room together via one or two of the numbered points above. The rest is truly cringeworthy but shared here to demonstrate that often our first instincts are fueled by emotion, leading to poor interactions tarnished by our saboteurs.
I’m currently learning a lot about adulting as a single woman. This week I got rid of the old mortgage company that always insisted on speaking to my husband before speaking to me when I called. Rather than being uncomfortable or unhappy, I changed the circumstances. I’m very happy with my current mortgage specialist who definitely never talked down to me or disrespected me.
I also realized in these days of exploration that the lake house I’ve so frequently pined for is not necessarily an actual lake house, but a state of mind, a state of desired equilibrium. It’s about making a fresh start in redefining my home. My advice to myself: next time you are ready to read someone the riot act, sit still and take some deep breaths. You’ll be amazed at the results.