Sales Tales From The Dark Side
His site is called SalesAutopsy.com, and Dan Seidman calls himself "The War Correspondent of Selling."
And with good reason. Seidman has conducted sales and marketing training since the late 1980s and has been collecting sales blunders for just as long. Both he and his site attempt to drive home the point that the standard-and egocentric-feature/benefit approach to selling no longer works today.
"Consumers are more savvy these days," Seidman says. "It's not enough to say to them, 'I'm so great, and here are all the great things I have to offer.' Today, you actually have to feel your clients' pain."
To help with this approach, Seidman has designed the site he describes as "a nice mixture of education and entertainment." SalesAutopsy.com relates Seidman's own sales horror stories as well as those submitted by others. The site offers a free e-mail version of the best stories each month; you can also submit your own horror story to The Sales Horror Story of the Week competition-even if you lost the sale, you might still win a "dead guy" watch for the botched effort.
The good news in all this is that for every disaster, Seidman offers a solution. For example, a story that is a particular Seidman favorite, "Salesman Shoves Foot so Far Down His Throat, He Dies in Front of the Client," relates the tale of "John," a printer services representative, who, in attempting to bond with a prospective client, mistook a photo of the guy's wife for former Raiders football coach John Madden. Postmortem solution: Better than bonding with the client is to respect his or her time and simply thank him or her for the invitation to talk. Another story is "Three Ring Disaster," the tale of a sales team that bought cherry and lime flavored frozen drinks before a client meeting, only to have the prospective client laugh at their red and green mouths-and never ask them back. Postmortem solution: Think about your actions before a sales call very, very carefully.
If you think you've got a better-or better yet, worse-sales disaster, send it to www.salesautopsy.com/sales-stories/war-stories.htm.
Julia Miller is a Los Angeles-based writer who specializes in business and marketing. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.