Seeing Red!

A financial services fiasco occurs as Carl’s attack on a bad prospect backfires

I’m a top agent selling annuities to senior citizens. Many of you know how the game is played. We send out expensive looking (and costly) invitations to high end restaurants in order to get prospects to show up for a nice meal and a pitch to handle their money.

I work in an affluent area in Florida where retired men and women have plenty of money to invest.

So tonight I’m 30 minutes before start time, setting up my presentation and all these older people are already in the room. They’re retired, and are never late for anything.

I see a man in the front table and become instantly enraged.

Down the hall I march to the front of the restaurant where my assistant is greeting attendees.

“April,” I bark at her; “IF I EVER SEE THAT MAN IN THE RED SHIRT AT ONE OF OUR MEALS AGAIN, I WILL HAVE YOUR TAIL ON A PLATTER (but I didn’t use the word tail). We’re spending crazy money on these meals and this jackass is on his fourth. He has never given us a simple conversation.”

Blood boiling, I continued, “Do you understand? I don’t want to see his face in front of me. I don’t want to see his name on a list. I don’t see that joker eating any more of my expensive food! Or I will have your…” You get the picture.

She is shaking and manages to nod her head and squeak out an “okay, Carl. I hear you.”

Back down the hall to the room I stomp, where I walk into a cold, quiet atmosphere. Everyone is staring at me. The man in the red shirt has a purple face which does not match his outfit.

I’m momentarily confused.

That is, until I realize that I had on my live microphone.

I stammer an apology, mumbling some comments about people taking advantage of our offer to break bread and discuss their bread.

My well-fed prospect glares at me, gets up and walks out.

I drove on auto-pilot through my memorized presentation and not one single person agreed to an appointment. My temper had rewarded me a zero return on my $2,500 marketing expense.

POSTMORTEM: Carl recently shared this tale when I was opening his firm’s national sales conference. I told the story to my parents (retired) and they laughed and said, “That’s us!” Here’s your coaching tip: While this is a prospect qualifying and disqualifying story, bad things happen enough to salespeople. Your ability to quickly move on is a sign of mental strength. I’m recommending something your psychologist or counselor would not – you can learn to stuff those feelings. Then quickly move on. You have plenty of business on the horizon. The old sales adage is Yes, No, Next. Yes is good. No is good. Next prospect is good. Shake your head and just move on. The more you see red, the less you’ll see green.

Copyright Dan Seidman  All rights reserved.


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