I’m a glutton for punishment and as a salesman I could never shut my mouth when it came to the words-“Ok we’ll do it”. Problem was, it wasn’t me being punished so much as the poor techs that had to go out and ‘deliver’ on MY PROMISES. As a tech myself I hated when salesman did this to me that I swore I’d never be guilty of the same. There is something about the sales process however that sucks both the client and the salesman in and during this short euphoric time of a sale, things are said, expected and implied and it’s never a problem until you see the service guy stare you down the next morning as you walk through the shop on your way to the morning sales meeting. Here’s 2 quick stories of jobs I sold that the techs wanted to kill me for. It is at this time, some 2 decades later, I’d like to take this time to extend my apologies to any technician I unnecessarily burdened with my big mouth.
Once while selling a termite job my customer expressed great concern over the drilling that had to be done in all of the attached slabs around his home. Thinking he was worried about us hitting pipes or something I explained that this almost never happened. (almost) His worry however wasn’t for pipes but for the patch work we did and that he had his slabs poured especially thick (8 inches) and our very small plugs wouldn’t be enough to keep the strength and integrity of his extra thick pads. He asked if my tech could fill the drilled holes completely with cement and I being the consummate sales ‘ding bat’ agreed. Now if you’ve never done termite work it’s hard enough drilling the standard 4′ inch slabs and this job was double that. What really made the termite tech see red however was when he went to plug the holes after hours of drilling and treating and the man told him of our deal. Plugging drilled holes is not that difficult but trying to get 8 inches of cement to go down a 1/4 inch hole and set up as if nothing was done at all is apparently impossible. My guy tried mashing it in but it packed to tight, he tried a soupy mix of concrete but it just kept falling through the bottom of the hole and would never fill up and apparently this simple process took longer than the rest of the job. The next day he came to my desk and put two empty 5 pound cement buckets at my feet and said “The next time you sell one like that, I’m gonna put this much cement on your feet and throw you in the river.”
More than church bells ringing
While scraping bottom on the sales ladder again (or still-I forget) I was doing an inspection of a very large church in downtown Baltimore. The place had to be 150 years old but I couldn’t find a mouse, bug or hint of a problem. About to give up I found a small hatch under some stairs and crawled inside. This secret entry led to a series of concrete tunnels that were maybe 3 feet wide by 3 feet tall, squared in shape and one led to another and another and another. I measured them to be about 4 or 500 feet in total length. It was kind of creepy and I thought I found some sort of pathway that would lead me to a super secret sacrifice room or something but each tunnel went absolutely nowhere. The exciting thing for me was I found several termite tunnels and although they only went up the sides of the tunnel and could go no further because of the solid concrete, I at least had something to report back and maybe I’d get a sale. To my surprise the church leaders immediately said to schedule the work and I dutifully called it in. Now our termite guy at the time was about 6 foot 7 and a big guy. I’m not sure how he contorted to get in that hatch but what I wasn’t prepared for is what he told me about 3 days later when he came back from a few sick days. Apparently when he was drilling all the many holes he needed to treat the job the sound of the hammer drill echoing in the tunnels really did a number on his ears and the poor guy was out with a headache and ringing ears for 3 days straight.
While I tried very hard as a salesman to make it work I realize now that I’m not cut of that cloth. Not that I’m saying a good salesman will lie or use deceit to get their sales because that is something I never knowingly did. It’s just that I didn’t have the ability to just shut my mouth and let the old adage work…
Under promise and over deliver