So how rude CAN you be to a sales person?

Posted on:15. 03. 2016

By Cliff Findlay

I haven't the time *slam* - Seriously, f**k off *slam* - No! I don't want one thank you! *slam*
It seems that being rude to sales people isn't only accepted, it can actually be the subject of hilarity, a conversation to be had around the water cooler. So why is it that we all believe that we can be rude to sales people who are in fact just doing their jobs?

I am always courteous to sales people - yes even cold callers. Now, I'm not trying to put myself on a pedestal but it occurred to me that one day that may be me or one of my staff on the receiving end of some abuse. Even in business meetings where you are meeting someone face to face people are often late or cancel at a moments notice which they then justify by saying "hey, they are selling to me". However, how would you behave if your sales person was on the end of that kind of behaviour? Telesales people are a pain but they are meant to be. They get short shrift from most when all they are doing is their job. 

Everywhere you look sales people seem to be the ones that we all love to hate. Why is this the case though? You'd never be that rude to your bank manager, window cleaner, accountant, family or friends. Equally we're all disgusted when someone treats our sales people in a similar manner.

Is it because we have no emotional connection, or is it that we feel we know they can't do anything to impact us? Is it the same as car rage where we feel protected and therefore can take out our anxiety and stress out on the poor unfortunate soul? And how do the sales people feel? Do we ever stop to think? 

There are two things we maybe should consider here, one from each side.

1. As a sales person you should never take it personally, you must see it for what it is. Someone who is in a position to get away with behaving like a child behaving like a child. It is them not you. So dust yourself down, laugh it off and pick up the phone and make that next call. Don't spend the next ten minutes explaining just how rude they were to a work colleague and when you get home repeat the discussion to you nearest and dearest. It's a waste of time and won't get you anywhere. Find a new method that encourages conversation rather than blatant selling. Throwing things like 'I doubt you were expecting a call from me today but have you five minutes so I might tell you why I've called and if it isn't for you, you can tell me to go away' can be a great ice breaker.

Personally, I hate telesales as a marketing method but there you go. When in meetings and the client shows disrespect by cancelling do you set up another meeting? Maybe not. If they are willing to treat you with this level of courtesy when they don't know you how will they treat you when you are a supplier and maybe they weren't that interested in the first place? My thinking is to have a strategy for people who misbehave and decide whether you actually want them as a client at all.

2. Can we all be a little more respectful to people who are just doing their job? It only takes a minute to say 'thanks but no thanks but thank you for the call and I know you re just doing your job'. It is fairness that will leave you feeling good about yourself and will leave the person on the opposite side feeling good about their job. If you have arranged a meeting with a potential supplier show them the same amount of courtesy you would expect another business to show your sales people.

I doubt we will stop this situation as everyone thinks it's 'fair game' but if both sides agree that they can do something about it maybe the sales world will be a more attractive space and everyone will get increasingly better at selling.

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