Why We Don’t Trust Sales People

Last week we had a new picture window installed for our house. Yes, it was cold, about 25 degrees, and it might have seemed like a strange time to have a window replaced. I don’t like bugs; enough said. 🙂

The window that was there had been there about 50 years or so. It had never been broken and looked fine, but it was old technology. The living room has always been cold, so much so that in the winter my wife and I pretty much stay out of there. In the summer it’s so hot because of the evening sun that, once again, we have to stay out of there, even if the curtains and blinds are closed, because the heats builds up a lot then won’t go away.

So we had a new, modern window installed, which you see above. Looks pretty good, and it has some neat features to it. At one point, though, I went over to the window and touched it while the guy installing it was still there. And it felt cold.

I said “Hey, the window feels cold“.

He said “It’s supposed to feel cold. The outer window is exposed to the cold, so cold will eventually reach the second window.”

I said “But when the sales guy came, he had an example of what he were getting, with the heat lamp that he pressed against the window, and we didn’t feel any heat whatsoever. He told us we wouldn’t feel anything.”

He said “I always worry about sales guys because they sometimes tell people something that’s not totally true. I’m glad I’m just a contractor so I don’t have to deal with them all that much.”

My wife came home and said that she wasn’t feeling the draft anymore; I’m not so sure. I can’t feel much difference in the living room than I did before the new window was put in. The sales guy promised us that we’d see at least 15% in savings on our heating bill and our air conditioning bill from putting that window in. I’m just not so sure anymore. Did I really need a new window or just someone to do more with sealing problem areas around the window?

Why do we hate being sold to? Because we just don’t trust what people say to us about something. My wife and I don’t know a lot about windows but we’ve learned some things since the first set of windows were put in.

For instance, as I watched this guy most of the day (and it was cold, so that wasn’t pleasant for almost 6 hours), I made sure he was sealing the area around the windows both inside and outside of the house. We learned that lesson when we wondered what was going on with windows we purchased 4 years ago and had a contractor come by and show us that none of those windows were sealed properly. So, I know this guy did the job pretty well.

Yet, we can’t know it all. Years ago we had a company come in called Zero Draft to do an assessment on our house for drafts and the like. We ended up paying them around $3,500 for the job, which included more insulation and other stuff. The result; the house still felt cold, even after the guy came back and did his tests and said their scanners were saying all the drafts were taken care of. Do these folks ever get a recommendation from me? Not even close because I’m not satisfied.

As an independent consultant, I understand the issues in trying to convince someone that I’m going to do right by them. Almost everyone has had someone who has promised them something and didn’t have it delivered. Sometimes it’s the fault of the person doing the selling; sometimes it’s the fault of the person who perceived something that wasn’t stated. Either way, it’s always up to the person providing the service or product to not only try to represent themselves legitimately, but to try to give what’s promised, if possible.

I look at the products that I’ve created and wonder whether they deliver what people are expecting. I certainly know they’re as good as I could make them, but would someone purchasing those things agree?

I had one bad situation years ago at a hospital in New York City. The guy who set it up for me promised the moon to the guy who took me on. The place had way more problems than I could attack, most of which was having to try to work with people who belonged to a union that administration had irked so much that the employees that reported to me weren’t really supposed to talk to me, though they eventually did.

That’s a lot to overcome, and I’m not omnipotent so what was hoped for wasn’t happening. I did the best I could, tried to bring them back into regulations, and ended up bringing in the most cash they’d had in a one week period all year the last week I was there. But it wasn’t close enough to expectations. Was that my fault, the fault of the guy who promoted me, or the fault of the guy who took me on by not letting anyone know just how bad things were? By the way, that hospital’s closed now, which shows just how bad it was.

As bloggers who are trying to make a buck off our blogs, or off our websites, it’s incumbent upon us to try to always put our best foot forward in whatever we do. If you’re writing a product review, do you really believe what you’re saying, or are you writing what you are just to get paid? Will your product really solve the problem you told people it would or does it go in a different direction? Are you giving people solutions or history?

And yes, I’m still cold.

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35 thoughts on “Why We Don’t Trust Sales People”

  1. I’m with you, here. I do know some honest sales people with integrity, but they are few and far between. Social media will eventually change this situation, so those not-quite-so-above-the-board sales reps will have to take notice. Now when a customer gets burned, he or she has a larger outlet through which to vent. You’ve shown a provided a perfect example of that right here in your blog.

    1. Thanks Joanne. You know, it’d be nice to have someone actually deliver what they’ve promised for this house just once. 🙁

  2. Mitch – I totally agree that most people have already experienced a person promising them something and didn’t have it delivered. I think many sales people know their product or service is not as good as they say it is.

    But they still promise you the moon and the stars to reel you in. I agree that as bloggers it is our duty to give honest reviews and offer people that visit our blogs a real solution to their problems.

    Sorry to hear your still cold over there.

    1. Thanks John. This new window is supposed to help save on our energy bill; I don’t think it’s going to come close. I’m really not trusting many folks these days, but I’ll break out of it.

  3. You summed up the exact problem both people and companies have with sales people. They often overpromise, both because it’s just a way of selling, and also because most of the times they don’t even fully understand what they are selling.
    I had experience of people selling something on behalf of my company without realizing the costs behind it, without understanding they were basically underselling a product or service by far, causing an actual damage to his own company. And I had experience of being on the customer end of it, being delivered something not up to my expectations but not against any contract either, ’cause most of the times the sales people words are just that, words.
    The idea solution would be for sales people to be throughly informed on what they are selling (which isn’t the case most of the times) and for them not to try too hard to sell. If they do, it’s because they are afraid not to earn enough, then maybe companies should revise a little the contracts they have with them, making conditions a bit better in order to improve business as a whole. What do you think?

    1. I agree with you, Gabriele. It also probably wouldn’t hurt if someone followed up on the salesperson, a technician or supervisor, to make sure the customer was satisfied “before” work was being done. Of course, it’s easy for company executives to feign ignorance because they’ve already benefited from what’s occurred, and that’s a shame.

      For me, I’m the entire business. I can’t afford to oversell and not deliver because I can’t fire me. That may make my thoughts on this subject different than most, but also being a customer I don’t think so.

  4. The best salespeople (or more accurately, the worst salespeople) know just how to word those promises, because they understand what the customer wants to hear — and often thinks he is hearing. It’s that fuzzy area that gets us every time. We went into a clothing store last week that had a huge sign in the window: “EVERYTHING IN THE STORE 50% OFF!” We didn’t see the stuff that wasn’t included, because it was mentioned in tiny letters way down at the bottom. They shouldn’t be allowed to use words like “Everything” unless they mean everything. Your window guy said you wouldn’t feel anything. Same situation, except he didn’t even bother to give you the fine print. Do you have any recourse?

    1. Oh yeah Charles, I hate that stuff as well. Ever listen to a radio commercial? They’re talking regular for 48 seconds or so, then suddenly all the fast stuff at the end; who can understand any of that except a 13-year old girl? And she’s not talking because she’s usually mad about something. lol

      I don’t have any recourse on the window, unfortunately, and my wife says at least it looks nice and is more modern than the other one, which means we can open it in the spring or summer to let air flow through the house. I think that’s how they get you; give you just enough so you think you have benefited in some fashion.

  5. I think the old saying “we love to buy but hate being sold” rings true here. People don’t like feeling like they are dealing with a sleazy salesman. It’s best to take the highroad, provide info about your product honestly and ask for the sale.

    1. Exactly Tony. I’m sure in your business you hear about lots of unscrupulous people; I’ve certainly dealt with many of them in what you do.

  6. Well, as you know, dealing with sales people is one of my biggest annoyances, which is sad since I am one. I know how they lie or worse, don’t even know about the product they are selling. I work for State Farm and fortunately, I do believe that State Farm is the best insurance company out there. I don’t have to lie or feel like I’m compromising someone on anything, but I do tell people that they may not need “this or that” if I don’t believe that they do. Overselling something that someone doesn’t need or can’t afford is just as bad, I think.

    I’m wondering, though, how the guy demonstrated the window with a heat lamp and yet that’s not what’s happening with your window? Is it different glass or something? I’d be livid.

    1. That’s what I was wondering, Jessica. I don’t know if you’ve ever gone to any home shows but they usually have a couple of people doing the same presentation with the heat lamps and the windows, and you never feel it on the other side. Maybe it’s a “time” thing; in other words, it takes times for the heat to come through but since they only pop it up there for a brief period you never realize that eventually it’s going to warm up. I don’t know, but it does seem kind of smarmy, doesn’t it?

  7. I would look it from the other point of view. I don’t trust sales people in business. 3 times in my career as I have been a company owner or manager, business have gone through difficult times because of sales people. And this had happened in 3 different continents. So in the future, I will never hire sales people, no matter in house or outsourcing and sales and marking will be always run by me.

    1. I understand that, Carl. I have actually contracted with 3 sales people to help market one aspect of my business, and only one of them actually got to talk to someone on the phone; health care can be tough.

      Okay, your link this time, Rochester News? They don’t accept comments; what’s up with that?

      1. Sales people are smart, they know that can talk on the phone and what I do is kicking their *ss and send them outside to have meeting in person.

        Regarding website, you know that I am SEO, there are many projects which need to receive links from quality websites like yours. I guess this is the reason why comments are closed. By the way, I am sending you the email that I promise about the project now.

      2. Yes Carl, I had figured that out awhile ago. However, if it were my client and I was helping to promote their blog, I’d recommend they have comments open. As I write here, what’s the benefit of having a blog if you don’t want to talk to anyone?

  8. I’ve been on all three sides of that fence Mitch, and I’ve gotten to where I figure the bigger the build-up, the less truth there is in it. My pappy used to say, “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.” When making decisions about buying or hiring I tend to rely of customer reviews more than the sales staff.

    Sorry about your windows, Mitch, I wish that had worked out better for you.

    1. Thanks Allan. You know, my wife wonders why I’m sometimes hesitant to pull the trigger on things like this and it’s because the same types of things keep happening over and over, and I keep getting disappointed. I just might be one of those people who either shouldn’t have a house or needs to be filthy rich so I can pay someone to check all these things for me. I think I’ll shoot for being filthy rich!

  9. Ever since I was a salesman I’ve learned not to trust them. It’s only when you work with them on a daily basis that you come to realize that most of them are full of stuff that comes out of your rear end. They will tell you almost anything to get a sale.

    That window you put in, I’m assuming its double glazed, as in it has two panes of glass? If so it will save you money as far as energy consumption is concerned, but that second glass will still still heat up and such just not as much.

    1. Yes, it is a double paned window, and supposedly a part of it has some kind of gas in the middle. I’ll be hoping it saves something, as much as it costs.

      1. Not that I know of, Sire. Man, I don’t know anything about stuff like this. lol

  10. Great brainstorming over your topic Mitch. As a sales representative/salesman we must always be honest to ensure customers’ trust. For me, I am not easy get convinced by the sales talk of any sales person. I prefer to find and review products’ capabilities and standards before I choose to buy a certain products. I already read your policy. =) Keep posting interesting topics.

    1. Thanks Oliver. On this one, my wife really wanted the window and I went along with it but was still hesitant. I’ll really be more picky from this point on.

  11. Mitch – as a B2B sales consultant I hate what you’re saying, but regrettably agree with it! I think you can broaden “trust” to include both character and competence, as per Stephen Covey’s book The Speed of Trust. I’ve documented where the sales people in my industry – IT – seem to fall down – you’ll find it at http://bit.ly/hHHJzA

    I’d value any feedback you or your readers may have – my intent is to come up with some sort of framework for sales people and their companies to embrace to give them “trusted status”.

    Regards – Bruce

    1. Hi Bruce; thanks for joining in. I went to your blog & read your post. Unfortunately, you don’t have a traditional way of leaving comments & I don’t sign up to comment anywhere so I can’t leave a comment there. You might want to take a look at this post I wrote for business bloggers.

      In the meantime I think you hit it on the head. Both your post and mine highlight this issue of sales people not being fully trained for what it is they do. However, I get the feeling that the guy who came here knew his stuff and still “gamed” us. I should have gone with my first thought, which is to verify everything by getting a counter offer from someone I know who does windows. That’s what we forget to do; get bids & have people prove stuff to us. I had a similar issue earlier this year when we were entertaining having our roof fixed. We got quotes from $8,000 to $30,000; I mean, what the heck is that?

      You sometimes just don’t know who to trust.

  12. Kind of like the vacuum salesperson that comes into your home to do a demonstration.

    They vacuum your whole house- even your mattress…producing all kinds of scary “stuff”.

    By the time they are done, they have practically convinced you that your home should be condemned because of all the dirt and filth your old vacuum missed…. so you buy theirs…

    And their vacuum never works the same again….

    1. Carolee, I won’t even allow those people in my house. I’ll admit that I love the air freshener part of it, but for that kind of money, I expect it to vacuum the house on its own. Hey, I understand that sales is part of the game, but at least let’s be honest about things.

  13. In a world where we really do have to sell our business, it is quite lamentable that we distrust salespeople so much, isn’t it, Mitch? I do my own share of selling. What graphic designer doesn’t? But, one thing I can say is that in my line of work, it is easier to keep promises. However, that is also because I always keep in touch with my client and get their feedback on what I have done so far.

    I am also very cautious about dealing with salespeople and make it a point to always think my decisions through when buying something. Maybe, that is why I am also very careful in the image that I present to my clients when I do sell my skills to them.

    – Wes –

    1. Wes, it’s something that I think holds me back in the long run because I distrust those that specifically do that for a living so much. For instance, this afternoon I get a call from Google with no idea what it’s about, as a message was left. I called back and left a message, but hedged my bet saying if I didn’t know what the return call was about if I wasn’t home that I wouldn’t be calling back, and it turned out to be a sales call. I mean, the guy couldn’t say that the first time around, with all the other Google accounts I have?

      For me, I’m a sole proprietor; I’m the sales person, but I’m also the guy doing the work. So, I basically sell “me”, and then hope that someone will be interested in what I do or say and hire me. Tough way to market, but it’s my way.

  14. Promoting oneself it’s never easy, because you need to be really objective when doing so.

    Regarding sales persons i usually don’t trust them, but i do trust brands, not all brands of course, but i’ve used certain brands for a while now and no sale person is going to change that.

    I think that experience teaches you to select what’s best for your needs. So you need to try some thing out, before making the right choice.

    1. Mia, I’m with you in trusting brands. My wife thinks I’m too loyal to some brands, but I’m someone who will stick with something until it fails me in some fashion. It’s terrible that we have to be wary of people trying to sell us things, but I guess that’s the way of the world.

  15. When I get to talk to sales person, only one thing goes through my mind “scam!”. I don’t really like to entertain people like these specially when it like cold calls, you know nothing about what they are selling. I would rather buy things which are referred by word of mouth by friends than buy things through sales talk.

    1. Same with me John, although I acknowledge that sales calls are a big part of business. The money one can make off one sales call can probably offset all the negative comments those folks can get. I still couldn’t do it because of my own preconceived notions, which is too bad really.

      1. I also feel the same Mitch. I know it’s bad habit but I just can’t help myself from vindicating in some situations like this. I don’t know how to fix this habit either.

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