Robert Carzoli, Program Productions

EVERYONE IS A SALESMAN

One morning recently, I received an unsolicited sales call from a young lady.

“Hello, this is {Name} from {Company Name}, is this Rob?”

Rob? No one, and I mean no one calls me Rob, ever. Most people call me Bob, my family and closest friends call me Bobby. My college buddies call me Zols. Any of them works, although I would think out of courtesy and the fact that this person has never spoken with me, Mr. Carzoli would be more appropriate.

“This is Bob; how can I help you?”

“Well Rob” (again with the Rob, didn’t she just hear me say ‘This is Bob’?) “I represent {Company Name} and we provide online HR management services. Are you the right person to talk to about your HR needs?”

Now, before I go any further, let me tell you something about myself. Even though I am the President & CEO of Program Productions, I am, and always have been, a salesman. I have spent tens of thousands of hours on the phone in my career. I have been hung up on, yelled at and just plain ignored so many times, I can even begin to count.

So, when the telemarketing folks sneak their way into my world, I am unbelievably kind, and many times, as helpful as I can be. I understand that they are doing their jobs. They are trying to make a living. No harm, no foul.

Usually, I will tell them why I am not a candidate for their product or service. If it might be something my organization could be interested in, I will direct them towards the person who ultimately would be our decision-maker for what they are trying to sell. I almost always finish up by saying, “Although we probably aren’t a candidate for your product/service, good luck on the rest of your calls today.” I try to make sure I don’t hang up before they do.

But the level of unpreparedness of this young woman struck me. With the plethora of places to find out information about my company and myself personally, it wouldn’t have taken her very long to do a little research. Be a little better informed about who we are and what we do.

“No, I am not the right person to talk to, and truthfully, we are a very large labor management firm with a number of professional HR relationships, so, we probably wouldn’t be a good fit for your service.”

“Well Rob, who in your company should I talk to?”

What? Did you just call me Rob for the third time? Are you even listening or are you just going through the motions, reading from a script and hoping that I am the one in fifty people who might be interested?

Now, I was pissed off.

“Listen, first off, no one calls me Rob. I thought you might have picked up on that by my response to your first question. Second, didn’t I just say that we already have a large number of professional HR relationships? Are you listening to anything I am saying?”

“Ummm, yes, I am listening.”

“Good. I know you are just doing your job, but you need to work harder at being better prepared. If you have a great product or service, you’re never going to be able to sell it because you simply come across as not caring, and believe me, every potential client wants to feel like you care.”

There. I’ve had my say and hopefully passed along some sales sage advice to a budding young salesperson.

There was a short pause. I then heard her say, in a soft voice, “whatever” and hang up the phone.

At first, I was stunned. I wanted to call the company back and tell them about the phone call. Then I simply laughed at how ridiculous the whole encounter and exchange had been and decided to just forget it.

But then, as the day passed, I really started to think about what happened. What the upside could have been for her if she had been better prepared or if she actually cared about doing her job as professionally as possible? Failure seems inevitable for her.

And I thought about our industry. How many times have I received phone calls and emails from customers who felt like a couple of the people on their crew just didn’t listen, didn’t seem to care, or simply appeared to be unprepared?  How many times are folks late to the job? How many times are they asked to do something and then simply don’t do it? How many times does “whatever” cross their minds and lips?

I know that most of the outstanding people who work for us care about what they do. They are professional and take an enormous amount of pride in their work. I hear many of those stories as well.

I just wonder how many people that work in our industry fail to realize that not only are they technicians, but salespeople, too?