Over the past six weeks I sat through not one, not two, not three, not four but five separate sales presentations that have left me, to say the least, underwhelmed.
In each case a representative of these companies had approached either myself or a member of a group with which I am affiliated and requested an opportunity to meet with us and ply their wares.
In each case the requests were granted and dates were set.
Prior to the beginning of each of these presentations those of us in attendance all shared a common expectation: we were anticipating being shown how the various services and/or products being offered by these companies would serve to make our organizations better, cheaper and more efficient.
Perhaps, naïvely, we were hoping for all three.
What made these five presentations memorable is that in each case the person or people doing the presentation spent the majority of their allotted time, not regaling us with the joyous virtues of their offerings but rather telling us, and even offering evidence, of the poor quality of service and/or product we are presently receiving from their competitors.
They spent their time trash-talking them.
The degree to which these folks went to criticize their competitors is nothing short of startling. From sharing with us anecdotal horror stories from other customers of their competitors, to providing us with photographs and even a video outlining how we were being shortchanged by our existing service and product suppliers, it seemed there was no length to which these people would not go to convince us how bad, incompetent and overpriced their competitors truly are.
Ironically, the attempts to destroy the competitors had a reverse effect as in each case, once the presenters had left the room, the discussion turned to the method of trash-talking as opposed to discussing the possibility of utilizing their services.
On at least two occasions one or more of my colleagues commented that the presentation inferred loudly that we were not too bright for having contracted with these folks in the first.
I guess they were right, I am not too bright because, frankly, I just don’t get it.
I have always believed that in selling my own services my role is to present to the potential client what my products or services can do for them by way of benefit, savings and efficiency.
I’ve always attempted to present a business case to this effect and on those occasions whenever I have been asked questions about my competitors I have either truthfully commented on my lack of knowledge of how and what they do or have offered praise.
It’s not that often that I attend sales presentation so I cannot comment as to whether this is a recent trend on the part of the companies allowing their folks to represent them in this manner but I have to be honest, I don’t like it.
Over several years now we have seen this trend during political campaigns. The negative campaigning which consists of nothing more than bashing one’s opponent as opposed to proffering what the candidate can and will do if selected.
An interesting comment made by one of my colleagues after one presentation has stuck with me over these past few weeks.
She said the folks who had just completed their presentation were trying to instill fear in us and then utilize that fear to push us to make a decision in their favour.
She also pointed out the old adage, “People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones” and took it upon herself, over the next week, to visit several customers currently using the services of the companies that had trashed their competitors and returned with photo and video evidence showing them to be guilty of the very offences they accused our existing service providers to be deficient in.
I was reminded of the intensity of negative campaigning used in recent elections. We are rapidly approaching a federal election in our country and no doubt we will be seeing more and more vitriolic BS spewed forth by candidates thinking this is the pathway to success.
I’ve always taken my civic duty very seriously and firmly believe that voting on Election Day is not a right but an obligation. I have never once failed to take the time to visit a polling station and ensure my voice be heard.
This year on Election Day I may well surprise myself. There is one party’s platform I favour over the others and have always supported but I have promised myself that on that important day when I make the decision to place a X on a ballot sheet, my vote may not go to the party whose ideology I favour and instead may go to the candidates who takes the highroad.
If you want my vote, tell me what you will do for me. Don’t spend your time telling me of all the damage your opponent’s will do.
As far as those six sales presentations are concerned, there is a part of me that is tempted to call a senior manager in each of those companies and share my concern about their sales practice. There is another part of me that tells me this is none of my business and to butt out.
I am asking for your thoughts. We all know feedback is by far the best catalyst for change and improvement and is sought and welcomed by many. We also know there are people for whom feedback is neither invited nor appreciated.
So please take a moment and let me know your thoughts as to whether I should or I shouldn’t make the calls.
Till we read again.