This is a re-post of an item I wrote for a company blog on 19 October 2005.
In a comment in an earlier entry, Neil talks about how sales/marketing pitches can ramble on about things, without actually “getting to the meat.”
If I am buying a car, I'll sit through one pitch on why the car was designed that way, how it was engineered and why it is better than others... but if we don't get to actually talking about the car itself before too long, I'm gonna fall asleep.I have a story....
Many years ago (1982, maybe?), I got a solicitation in the mail from Encyclopedia Britannica. Having an old 1963 edition of World Book, I decided to see what Britannica was like, and what it would cost to upgrade (had I been prescient, and foreseen the WWW, well...). I sent back the card. By and by, a sales rep phoned, and set up an appointment for 7:30 p.m. ... and refused directions to my house, because, as she said, “I can find it; I have a map.”
She showed up 45 minutes late, saying that she “got lost.” She started her sales pitch, which was done with a loose-leaf notebook full of what we would then have called “foils”, a one-meter-by-two-meter poster that she unfolded on the floor, and a “sample volume”, which had bits of this and that, and which attempted to show, in one volume, how the cross-referencing through the 30-volume set works. She went through the notebook. She told me what an encyclopedia is for, and when I said that I have World Book, and I know what it's for, she persisted. Apparently she had to go through her pitch sequentially, and no interruption or reordering was possible. The whole thing went something like this:
- This is what an encylopedia is. (I know that.)
- This is why EB is better than others. (OK, I see why she does this.)
- This is why not buying one is tantamount to child abuse. (I have no children.)
- Here's how it works. Let's look up “rutabaga”.... (Aiiiieeeeeeeeeee!)
- This is why you want one. (She'd already said that.)
- This is why you can't live without it. (See above.)
- This is why your kids can't live without it. (See above above.)
She went off the deep end, started shouting at me, saying that she didn't ask to come here, that I invited her into my home, and that she didn't need to stand here and be “brow-beaten” by me. She collected up her stuff, and I held the door open while she walked out. I never did find out how much the thing cost. And I had a very late meal.
I have no idea whether they still sell their encyclopedia set that way, nor whether that woman was typical or off the wall. But it sure was a bad sales-pitch experience!