Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Sale Tactics: the Oil of the Snake

On hold, a man's smarm-filled voice will ooze "and when you visit our website, there's a link to a Hot Coupon you can use for even more savings during your Free Inspection." A [hot] coupon? For savings during my [free] inspection? They're getting ahead of themselves.

The Man will show up. He'll insist that both partners be present. Because one isn't home yet, he'll pretend to go across town to pick up a check from another satisfied customer.

He'll say "I'll skip the scare tactics," then flip to a page in his mylar-enveloped binder showing a kid with asthma and a house that has collapsed. No pictures of terrorists at flight schools or Rudy Giuliani, at least. [Note that all salesmen will signal what they're about to do by saying they're not going to do it. For instance: "Listen, I'm not going to bad-mouth the guys who put in that last system." Or "Hey, I'm not going to try to sell you something you don't need, because it's not worth it for my reputation." Or "Look, I'm not going to lie to you."]

The salesman will state your problem to you, often even claiming to have first-hand experience of same. "It's a helpless feeling, believe me, I know. You just want to make the water stop. Am I right?"

He will attempt to get you to repeat the word "yes" several times in a row. "Bottom line: you want this water out of your cellar, right?" "You want to preserve the value of your house, am I correct?" "Have you ever seen mold down there?" "Would you like to take care of that too?"

He will ask implication questions. "Would it help your allergies if that mold wasn't in the house?" "If I could fix the settling under the mudroom, that would let you get those cracks fixed, right?"

He will, in our case, repeat the sentence "I can solve. Your. Problem." several times, without really convincing you that he can.

He will put you on with his sales manager, or the Owner, who will cover some of the same ground. They will both allude to loftily-titled personnel within the company, such as Chief Inspector and Chief Engineer, all of whom are interested in your case.

Arrangements will be made to reduce the initial ridiculous price by dint of moving a few things around and/or sudden realization of a cancellation in your area. The sales manager will apparently be furious that his salesman is giving away so much profit. You will be filling the dishwasher while he continues to [possibly] talk to colleagues on the phone, occasionally relaying some of the witticisms tendered by those parties back to you.

He will come down further in price as you brush your teeth if you will agree to serve as a reference once the job is done. You will then look him in the eye and mention the other satisfied customer in town. He will go blank for about three Mississippis, then recover and say they live on another street. Then he'll go too far--whoops!--and name it. It will not exist. He will leave, promising to email you the estimate.

The next day, someone else with a lofty title will phone to tell you that they called an emergency meeting of the Top Guys to discuss your case, and he'll ask to send over someone else with an even loftier title, who can take a quick look and then offer you a cheaper option with the same warranty. You'll figure why not. Except that this tactic must work, or they wouldn't do it. You'll go to bed wondering just precisely how they're going to get you.


wcs said...

Don't let 'em win.

These sound like former car salesmen (my boss is gonna kill me if I let it go for much lower than this, but for you I'm willing to risk it 'cause I had an Aunt Em myself, once. Yeah, that's it.).

Bill Braine said...

It's no accident that they asked to come back tonight.

Claudia in Toronto said...

Remember that Laban tricked Jacob and gave him Leah instead of Rachel.

Be very careful. They'll do everything to marry a pump sump to your house. Is this what you're talking about? Sometimes I miss the point...

wcs said...

There's always the chance that, behind all that phony sales crap, they can actually help...

Have a glass of wine. That always helps.

Magpie said...

My husband's favorite line is "water is the enemy of the house". But he can play general contractor and get the job done himself. Those guys sound a little scary.

Claudia in Toronto said...

Actually, if you need something, at one point you have to say YES. For my new TV, I chose the salesman with a French Canadian accent like mine. It helps if you meet on a common ground. Good luck!