The Cowards And The Clueless

The CEO Blogger’s Club had a nice bit on “sales people who are afraid to blog.” (hat tip: scoble). The gist of this group of sales folks:

“The first reaction of the sale team was negative, as they are afraid to see their client talking about prices or problems they might have when using company’s product, rather then sharing together feedback that might be much more constructive and usefull for the sale team itself.

What better CRM tool can we provide than a blog to get immediate inputs, feedback from users ? If a company has to choose one single kind of public to talk to , who should it choose ? Client of course. And who speaks to the client: sales team.”

I agree. Hang it out there. Learn. Listen to what the customer has to say. Implement the suggestions if they make sense. Say “no” if they don’t, and then explain why. Have a rational discussion.

Now, there are some sales people who are blogging…and who I would be hard-pressed to do business with. From a quick skim of his blog, Frank Rumbauskas appears to be one of those people. Don’t know him, never met the guy…but I was so put off by this piece that simply seethed with utter disregard for his customers that he’d have a hard time ever gaining my trust:

“Not in my house. My company gets calls all day long from people who want extra guarantees, names and numbers of references, previews of my book, etc etc before they buy. Instead of catering to these people, my customer service reps are instructed to say, “I’m sorry, but we cannot provide that. If you feel that way then don’t buy it.” Why? Because I would lose money having my staff spend time on these people.

When I sold telephone systems there were those customers who paid full price and those who drove hard bargains and wound up negotiating the price very low. Guess what – the customers who paid full price had my full attention whenever they needed help. I was always happy to drive out to their offices to assist them. Those who got deep discounts were simply told to call the 800 number. Not my job, sorry.”

I read this and I think “this guy is out for the quick buck, not the relationship.” I think “he’s trying to sell units of whatever he’s selling, he’s not trying to help me solve my problem.” I think “he’s not trying to partner with me. He’s not going to be there for me down the road, he’s going to be thinking about whoever his next ‘big kill’ is.”

I also note that he has trackbacks turned off. Pity. He might not even know this conversation is taking place.

3 Replies to “The Cowards And The Clueless”

  1. It appears that you’re looking at this from the standpoint of a non-business owner who rightfully believes that we as business owners should go out of our way to help solve your problems. I agree and wish it were that simple. However, basic economic principles prevent this. If you add up the costs of hiring additional people and/or contracting additional call center hours to make this possible, and add on top of that my existing costs (marketing costs alone exceed $20 per book), I’d quickly be out of business and then my work would help exactly ZERO people. I have thousands of letters and emails from people who have profited by my book; however, had I gone to the expense of a large customer service department to do things the way you think I should, I would have gone bankrupt a long time ago and far fewer people would have gained by the knowledge in my book. It’s impossible to be all things to all people and attempting to do so would guarantee certain failure in a business.


  2. Actually, Frank, I am a business owner ( ).

    You state your per-copy marketing costs are extremely high. If you have “thousands” of people who have “profited” from your book, why aren’t they talking about it? Why aren’t they yelling it from the rooftops? Why aren’t THEY the ones who are providing the customer references for others who may be interested in your particular brand of sales? You mentioned in your original post that you have instructed your customer service reps to blow off any prospects who want customer references. WHY? If someone is interested enough to call your number and invest his or her time in learning more about you and wants to know more from someone who has profited from what you have told them, don’t you think that connecting them with someone else in your customer community would be the thing that got them into your camp? Can’t you imagine an entire Rumbauskian customer conference, with the folks who you claim to have helped sharing their knowledge with each other, and making you the hero for bringing them together?

  3. The references were withdrawn because they all started complaining that they were receiving 30+ emails and phone calls per day once the “ideavirus” of my book began to spread. That is what smart marketing will accomplish 🙂 If you can actually provide a reference list without them complaining about too many calls then your marketing is ineffective.

    As for people shouting from rooftops about how great my system is, I’ve been sending out a weekly newsletter for over 2 years and in those I’ve published hundreds and hundreds of testimonial letters from customers. If someone STILL will not buy after all that, chances are they’ll never do anything no matter how much convincing proof I give them, including live references. Time is money and the Law of Diminishing Returns begins to kick in sooner or later. Or, as Napoleon Hill said, “The man of DECISION cannot be stopped. The man of INDECISION cannot be started. Take your own choice.” If there’s one thing I learned in 10+ years in outside sales it’s that many people will never make a decision NO MATTER WHAT. Another big reason I don’t want people of indecision buying my book is because I offer a 100% no-questions-asked money-back guarantee and when I was giving out references I found that the people who won’t buy without references have an unusually high return rate and each refund costs me about $30. It’s currently at less than 1% and I’d like to keep it that way. If losing money isn’t a good enough reason to blow off people who demand references then I don’t know what is. There really are both good and bad customers out there and one of the hallmarks of a successful salesperson is the ability to recognize and avoid bad customers and only sell to good ones.

    I keep careful track of my marketing and as of now about 40% of my orders come from affiliates and word-of-mouth so the ideavirus/network concept is coming together on its own as it always does with a great product.

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