Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Selling Me Stuff

Here at TBF Towers we're in need of new fascia boards and guttering around our house, which means running the gauntlet of salesman, builders and quotes. I tend to follow three common sense rules of thumb; get more than one quote, go on recommendations (in this case from neighbours) and, probably most importantly, try to get a firm / builder who resides locally (houses burn). These principles have held TBF in relatively good stead over the years.

I have a fair idea of price and what I'd like, so the last thing I need or want is the 'classic salesman spiel'. In truth it's relatively easy to sell to the Boiling Frog - be polite, reasonably friendly, straightforward about your product, give a no-nonsense quote and above all be honest (Hard as it is for salesman to adhere to the last quality, it does actually work).

Unfortunately my first quote last night was of the classic spiel variety - he ticked off every trick in the book. Only he was much worse. So here's how not to sell to TBF as demonstrated so vividly last night:
  1. Turn up 15 minutes late - that really isn't a good sign.

  2. Walk into my house without taking your shoes off or even asking. A small detail but it's rude and it's amazing how many people do this. I have clean carpets and I'd like them to stay that way thanks.

  3. Before asking what the requirements are (for example round or square drainpipes?) start by asking about our budget - that's none of your business. Clearly, as we're considering such a project, we have worked out for ourselves already if we have enough money.

  4. Use my non-committal on the previous point to start talking about the 'benefits' of a so-called Lifestyle Account. Oh here we go, he's trying to sell me finance, I bet we're going to go into the 'finance is cheaper than cash' territory. And sure enough he does. This is of course bollocks. Finance, credit or however you dress it up is not cheaper than cash up front - either he's lying or it's a con.

    (At this point I should stress that only reason this chap was still in my house was because he had a large ego and so was more than happy to show off regarding his knowledge on fascia board matters. Now, as I'm not an expert, I used the time to prime him on technical issues which will come in useful during subsequent quotes.)

  5. When quizzed on how finance is cheaper than cash, do not go into a patronising made-up speech about how it is possible because of the credit crunch and bank problems which means they are desperate to lend to you....blah blah blah.

  6. Ignore Mrs TBF after she asks a question by looking at me when you answer. This is a really common one - car salesmen are notoriously bad at this. When Mrs TBF asks about 0-60 time, bhp, top speed questions about a car she's buying, it is her that wants to know not me. Try talking to her then.

  7. Try to get us to watch a 10 minute dvd on your company's happy customers doing cartwheels because your products have transformed their lives. If I want to see a pointless promotional video or Power-point slide show, I'll go to work, thanks.

  8. Make gay or 'pikey' jokes; it isn't very professional.

  9. Push forward lots of bewildering promotional offers that end in the word 'subsidy'. Naturally they are only available if we sign up today. I remind him, as I have already on numerous times, that we won't be making a decision straight away. I have never done that and never will, and if he thinks I'm going to make a decision without chatting extensively to Mrs TBF first then he's an idiot.

  10. Start talking about the EU to me in a condescending manner as you fill out the quote form, because EU rules meant all your company's documentation had to be reprinted. Now, I don't expect him to know that I write a blog on such matters, but surely the rather large conference bag on my floor, with a UKIP logo emblazoned across it, might be a bit of a clue. Apparently not.

  11. When finishing the quote (without the promotional offers) ask how much do we think it is. Another 'trick', I'm not falling for it and my answer is always the same in such circumstances - "too much". After he realises he won't get the answer he wants he shows the quote - £11,684. Now I'm expecting to pay around the £2,500 - £3000 mark based on talking to my neighbours who live in similar houses so it is ...erm...a little excessive. I ask how much the promotional offers would reduce that by and I only get an answer of 'substantially'. Given that I'm prepared to spend a few thousand it's not unreasonable to expect a more specific answer. but no, none is forthcoming. Still, I thank him for the quote knowing what is coming next, and lo and behold...

  12. Then phone your manager who you claim is very busy and that you're lucky to be able to get hold of him. After a few monosyllabic exchanges then claim that just for us you've managed to reduce the quote to just under £4,500 if we sign today. Do salesman still do this stuff? Apparently so. Again I remind him, as I have umpteen times, we won't make a decision instantly.

  13. Be obviously pissed off because you haven't made a sale and make it clear you can't wait to leave our house immediately. Only not as quickly as you would like because you've got to put your shoes back on which I made you take off at the beginning.
Needless to say Zenith Staybrite won't be getting my business.


  1. I suppose your 'salesman' could be termed a 'guttersnipe'?


  2. Until you said Zenith, I was half expecting Grime 2 Shine....

    We got ours done for 2 grand by Anglian about 6 years ago, and I thought that was expensive, but the product appeared to be good quality.

    Plus they had to get rid of some asbestos as our house in Swindon is one of those ones with abestos cement barge boards from the 60's

  3. I replaced the windows in my old house about five years and one of the quotes I got was from Zenith Staybrite - almost every point you've listed here I had back then, from the crappy DVD (fronted by Richard Keys - I spent most of the time trying to work out which football ground it was filmed at) to the "call to the manager". There is obviously a single company sales script that all their salesmen have to follow!

    Needless to say my custom went elsewhere.

  4. @Mwmc I've not heard of Grime 2 Shine, perhaps given the nature of your comment I should keep it that way :-)

    @Bertie Glad to hear it's not just me. I didn't see the DVD (refuse to) but now slightly disappointed because I didn't have the opportunity to play spot the football ground :-(