Sales Fails: "I mentioned a competitor feature during a product demo. The prospect ghosted me"

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’m in tech sales now but I got my start selling mortgages a few years before the big subprime mortgage collapse. When I went into it, we were just starting to see cracks emerge in the market in terms of people thinking their homes were valued much higher than they actually were (and many of them had cashed out all of their equity multiple times). 

One day I got a lead from a guy who worked for his town. I don’t remember exactly what he did but he had some sort of a management position. It was a pretty good deal on paper. His credit was decent, and he had a lot of equity in his house. He wanted to pull a little bit of cash out for some home improvements and lower his rate, which would have essentially kept his payment the same. In those days, many of my deals were a mess, so I was excited to work on a deal that looked pretty clean. We did the paperwork, ordered the appraisal, and the process was started. 

Well, a few weeks later, we got his appraisal back, and it came back like 25% lower than what he’d estimated, which meant that the deal had completely changed, and he would no longer be able to pull out the full amount of cash that he wanted and wouldn’t have the same payment. I called him and told him what happened, expecting him to be frustrated or upset like most people are, but to ultimately accept what happened. 

Well, it went in another direction. He completely lost it on me, saying we were scammers and that his house was worth much more than the appraised value, despite the fact that the comps the appraiser used were literally on his street and very similar to his house. He said he was going to come to the office and “pay me a visit” and other vaguely threatening comments. I ended the call but he kept calling back and leaving angry voicemails. We considered calling the cops but the guy was careful to use coded language. Something told me he’d done this to other people before. Thankfully, after a few days of threats, I didn’t hear from him again. Who knew sales could be so dangerous!  

Anonymous             Location withheld     


This happened to me last year, right before our industry kind of took a downturn. I’m a SaaS AE in a very competitive industry. We compete with at least 2 big players, and probably half a dozen smaller upstarts. Early on in my time here, I was taught to speak of the competition in a polite and respectful manner, and never to badmouth them directly to prospects. 

Well, I might have taken that too much to heart. I was working a nice deal and had two champions bought in. The first one had roped the second one into our conversation, and we’d had a nice initial conversation where we went over our offering at a high level. During that conversation, we discussed our competitors. I was very careful not to badmouth them, and instead complimented them on areas where they were strong, but highlighted where we did better than they did. 

Fast forward about a week later, and I had a more in-depth demo booked with the second champion, who was the ultimate decision maker. He started off the conversation by saying that he was confident that they’d be moving forward with us, he just needed to get the final approval from his supervisors. So naturally, at that point, I’m super excited and my mood is up and I’m way more chatty than I might have been otherwise. 

So we go through the demo, and he asks if our product does this one very specific thing. We didn’t have the feature yet, but it was on our roadmap – I told him that. But then, being a blabbermouth idiot, I (for some strange reason) said that one of our other main competitors DID have that feature, which was a nice addition to their offering. I have absolutely no clue why I said it lol but I think it had something to do with our “praise the competition” training.

So the guy didn’t really say anything after I told him, but he kind of just looked blankly at the screen for a few seconds as if he was considering something or thinking deeply. We finished the demo and he said he’d be in touch. He and the other champion then proceeded to completely ghost me, and never responded to any of my calls or emails again. I don’t know for sure, but I’m almost positive that they went with our competitor who had the feature they wanted. And it was definitely all my fault! 

Anonymous             Location withheld     


The one Sales Fail that comes to mind for me happened when I was the customer in the transaction. About a year and a half ago, we were looking to have replacement windows put into my early 1920’s house. We still had the original rope and pulley windows and they were basically crumbling. 

I reached out to about six different companies for quotes, but literally only three called me back, which is not great to begin with. Two of them were fairly responsive and we scheduled a time for them to come out and take a look and write up an estimate. 

The first guy was awful. He showed up almost an hour late without letting me know he was stuck in traffic, then seemed totally confused about whether they could even do replacement windows or whether they’d have to install new frames. I don’t know anything about windows so I couldn’t tell what he was even talking about, but I definitely knew I wouldn’t be buying from him.

The second guy was nice and professional, though he was definitely a bit too chatty. But he seemed to know his stuff and represented his company pretty well. He took about a week to send over the estimate which I thought was a bit long, but the price was within what me and my wife expected and the company had decent reviews so we were feeling good about going with them.

I emailed him a few weeks after we sent the estimate and said I was ready to move forward. He responded about a half hour later with just a bunch of numbers and letters which looked like a part number. Then (and this is what kind of pissed me off) he responded to his own email and said, “That’s not for you, I’ll get back with you later.” Okay, I thought, and waited for his email. 

Well a few days went by, then almost a week, and in this time, one of the original companies I’d reached out to and didn’t hear back from called me and profusely apologized for missing my online inquiry. I was so impressed with the woman on the phone that I had them come out for an estimate. Their pricing was close to the second guy’s, but I still hadn’t heard back from him so I went with the new vendor. The second guy called me two weeks later and asked if I still wanted to move forward. No thanks, I said, and he said “Okay,” and hung up on me. 

Anonymous             Location withheld     

You might also like

Everything sales, straight to your inbox.

Sign up for The Quota, a fun, free weekly newsletter for salespeople and sales leaders -- from the people who brought you Sales Humor.

Thanks for subscribing! Just one more step!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.