Friday, November 27, 2009


Rant Week continues, mainly because I'm really fucking sick of hearing people around me employ sales techniques which could all be neatly grouped together as 'Hitting Targets at the Expense of the Customer.'

Here is my favourite. Maybe you could use it too! In our defence, not all of my colleagues do this, but the ones that do make me kind of ashamed of being in sales. Also, I want to be clear that in no way is this condoned or encouraged by management. It's just some salespeople who have figured out that it's easy money and acted accordingly.

Grief: The Untapped Goldmine!

Basically this is hassling for images in death and memorial notices. (We have a 50-images-a-month target, and a lot of the death/memorial notices have pictures of roses and so on, requested by the customer.)

Imagine for a second that you are on the phone to woman a who is in tears because her son died a year ago and she is putting an In Memoriam notice in the paper. You have just completed drawing up the ad. Which one of the following courses of action do you think is appropriate?

A. Ask if she would like a picture as well as the text, maybe say something like, "Would you like an image with the notice - perhaps a rose, or a heart - or are you happy with just the text?" and if she doesn't want a picture say, "That's fine," and talk about something else, like payment options.

B. Ask if it is OK if you put a red rose at the top. When she declines, push for a yellow rose or perhaps a pink one. Mention that there are lots of others flowers available. Don't forget to make her feel guilty by saying that most people think a flower makes the notice more "special", just so that she is aware of the ordinariness of her notice. Try not to mention the price, but if the customer brings it up mention that while there is an additional cost, surely it's worth it for this kind of notice? The subtext, of course, is that no matter what your financial situation, if you don't shell out for a $30 rose you never really cared about the deceased.

When the caller says uncomfortably that she doesn't really want a picture of a flower, push harder! A good next question is "Was there anything he liked doing when he was alive? Maybe a picture of a motorbike, or fishing?" If motorbikes and fishing aren't met with squeals of glee, try darts and bowls. If the customer says that the deceased wasn't really that sort of person, move on to the next step: ask about adding a line of script at the bottom (for commission purposes, this counts as a logo). Push for a Rest in Peace, or a Sadly Missed. Everyone's that kind of a person. A good line is, "You've got Rest in Peace at the end here. How about we make that bigger, and in a nice italic font?" How could anyone say no to that? Especially when you're not telling them it's going to cost them twenty bucks more and get you one step closer to your logo target.

Having squeezed another $20-$50 out of the customer, get off the call and proceed to talk loudly about how well you're going on logos this month.

Man. Every time I hear someone doing this it's a real effort not to call the customer back and say, "I am so, so sorry." There are so many better ways to hit target and I am so fucking sick of hearing people do this one. That is all.


a cat of impossible colour said...

That's pretty disturbing.

IT IS ALLY said...

It's horrible, isn't it.

apple cheeked, potato shaped girl said...

oh thats awful! it's quite sicking.
Everytime you hear them do it you should get a friend to write or phone managment to complain, they might cut it out if they think they'll get caught.

IT IS ALLY said...

sicking's not a word

Holly said...

That's really sad! :(