Each week, we bring you the most cringe-worthy sales moments from across the web. To submit your sales fail story for consideration, click here. (Don't worry, you'll remain completely anonymous).
“‘I have to tell you something. I don't usually lie to clients like this.’ That was me to my manager a few months after starting in sales at a locally owned radio group.
I was starting to get the hang of things, and the ability to walk into a business and introduce myself was becoming easier and easier. We had a remote broadcast at our local outdoor mall, and after we had packed up, I decided to stop in at the not-yet-open fast casual Mexican restaurant that was based out of Iowa. This was the first franchise in our area, and I had been to a location in Iowa before, so I felt comfortable going in to start building the relationship. I was talking to the owner, and he was friendly and open to talking about advertising with us.
Here's the part that I'm still embarrassed about: for some reason, when the owner said they were based out of Iowa, I blurted out, "Well, I'm from Iowa too!!" This, in fact, was not true. I had meant to say that my partner was from Iowa, and that I was there quite a bit. But before I could correct my mistake, the owner turned and yelled out to everyone in the restaurant, "This guy is from Iowa!!!" which was met with loud cheers and high fives, like I was in a John Hughes film.
When I returned to the station, I had a solid meeting set with the owner, and an explanation to my sales manager about how I had lied to the client. She knows I would never lie to a client to get a sale, but she will never let me live it down. According to her, I am indeed from Iowa originally, and forever will be.”
Anonymous, 30 Peoria, IL
“Years and years ago I worked for a subprime mortgage company. It’s a big one that was in the news a lot after what happened in 2008. But this happened in the year before the big meltdown. It was maybe an indicator of things to come.
The place was very much a boiler room. Lots of young, aggressive guys, slanging deals over the phone. Our branch did okay, but there was another branch in our same state that was absolutely crushing it. Guys there were all making well over 300k per year easily.
But they weren’t making it legally. They were manufacturing documents: doing things like making paystubs and other fake paperwork so they could get more people approved. It was kind of an open secret, but more of a don’t ask don’t tell thing. I’m sure it happened in my office too, but definitely wasn’t as pervasive.
Anyways, there was this one guy who got a job at the other office (the scammy one), and he didn’t fit in with the rest of the guys there. Apparently he had long hair and painted his fingernails and stuff like that and those guys basically made fun of it all the time.
So one day, the guy got fed up with being bullied and basically just stopped showing up to work. The manager didn’t take that too well, and called the guy and said that if he didn’t show up, he was gonna get fired. Well the guy wasn’t having it, and said that if he got fired, he would report the branch for all the illegal stuff they were doing.
The manager didn’t believe him, and fired him. But this guy actually went and reported everyone not only to the corporate office, (which must have secretly known about the shadiness all along) but to the federal government. Within two months, the company closed down the branch and let most of the employees go. A few years later, it was in the news for a massive settlement with the government. I don’t think any of the employees ever got charged, but that guy definitely got the last laugh.”
Anonymous Location withheld
“I sell software now, but in 2014 I was working for a regional bank as an assistant branch manager. One day, one of our personal bankers forwarded me a call from a customer, and told me that “something is up with this guy,” before sending him over.
Once I answered the call, all I heard was heavy breathing for a while, before the guy finally responded to my hellos and said he needed help. He sounded like he was out of breath, and started telling me a story about how he was scammed, and that “they” had “taken everything” from him. Every few minutes, he would break down crying, before regaining his composure, and saying “They’re gonna pay. I’m gonna make them pay.”
I asked if he wanted me to call the police, and he paused for a moment, then said yes. Then, almost immediately, he said not to call them, and that it was a personal matter and had nothing to do with the bank. I asked him how we could help, and once again, he broke down and said “they” had “taken everything,” along with some other expletives.
He finally wanted to know if he could borrow money or possibly take money out of his house, but after a minute of talking about that, he reverted back to this “thing” that had happened at his house the night before. Then he said, “I think they’re here,” before disappearing for a moment, then coming back and quickly saying he had to go and hanging up. We debated calling the police, but we couldn’t reconcile his phone number with anyone in our system, so we decided to hold off.
Here’s the weirdest part: I called him back the next day, and got him on the phone. It was definitely the same guy because he had the same exact voice, except he was in a cheerful mood. When I asked if he was okay, and if he still needed our help, he said, “Oh no. Everything is absolutely fine. I hope you have a lovely day,” and hung up. It’s still the most bizarre thing that’s ever happened to me in sales.”
Anonymous, 41 Connecticut