Sales Fails: "I partied too hard the night before going door-to-door. The prospect had to call an ambulance."

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My worst sales experience happened when I was selling solar door to door in the southwest. It was my first sales job and I was still a young pup. There were about a dozen of us who traveled out of state to do this. We took two company vans and stayed in a pretty cheap motel for two weeks, then the plan was to move on to another area.

We were not supposed to drink, or at least that’s what the “rules” were. But there were some guys who were back for their second or third year and they basically said it was fine as long as we weren’t obvious about it and didn’t do it in front of the managers. Our second night there, about half of the team got really drunk, myself included. I had drank plenty of times before, but I wouldn’t call myself a big drinker, so I think my tolerance was a bit lower than most. 

The next morning, we went knocking doors. The weather was absolutely brutal. It was over a hundred degrees and there was absolutely no shade or cover in the suburban neighborhoods where we were selling. I made it through about a dozen houses before I started feeling really woozy and lightheaded. I wanted to tell my manager, but I was honestly afraid of losing my job.

When I got to my next house, a woman answered the door and I went into my pitch. But after a few minutes, I thought I was going to pass out, so I said, “excuse me,” and sat on her front steps. She asked if I was okay and I told her I didn’t feel well, then proceeded to get sick in her bushes right in front of her. Well, that didn’t make me feel better, and she ran in and got me some water then asked if I wanted to come into the house where there was air conditioning. I mumbled something then leaned my head against the porch railing and didn’t speak. I felt like I was going to die. 

The woman ran inside and called 911, and a short while later, there was an ambulance and all of my coworkers were huddled around this house, with the neighbors all watching to see what was happening. It turned out that I was severely dehydrated and I had to go to the hospital and get my fluids back up. After that happened, I was fired from the company, because they tied it back to the drinking. No warning, just sent home and ended my contract. Not sure if there’s a lesson here except drink more water and be careful when it’s really hot outside! 

Anonymous             Location withheld   

I worked for a large 3rd party marketing company in my early 30’s and this was my first real sales job. I loved it and thrived there. We were paid a modest hourly rate and our tiered commission used conversions of phone calls to a sale to determine how much we would make the following month. However, when I first started I was on the late shift (we took calls until early in the morning). They scripted our calls (for the most part) and they also recorded ALL our calls (for QA and training purposes, literally). 

When you’re first starting out AND on the late shift you get calls that “go against your conversion rate” but you have no control over (ie. wrong number, wrong department etc). The company just told us everyone gets them so it “evens out”, deal with it. 

One month I was working and it was the last day of our month (for commission purposes) and I was teetering on falling to a lower level, which if that happened, would cost me literally thousands of dollars. 

My shift was almost over and my headset beeped, indicating an incoming sales call. Well, after our scripted introduction, the guy on the other end asked for customer service (we couldn’t sell those calls, a ding against my conversion). I told him I’d transfer him and after I THOUGHT he was off the line, I mumbled “Learn to hit the right prompt next time, dumb***”. 

About a minute or two later, my headset beeped again and guess who was on the line?: Mr. Dumb***….and he was FURIOUS. He told me he heard what I said, proceeded to yell at me and then asked for my supervisor. Oh, by the way, insult to injury: ANOTHER ding against my conversion!! My stomach dropped and I panicked!! Not only was I rude to this guy but I apparently cursed on a recorded call which was a fire-able offense. I dropped my head and went to get my very tough supervisor with my tail between my legs. I quickly explained what happened and let her know he wanted to talk to her. I just knew I was about to get fired. 

She proceeded to take the call, was very serious on the phone with him and I heard her tell him that I would be reprimanded to the fullest. (Oh, crap.) When she hung up, she looked at me with a gleam in her eye and just said “I know you’re under a lot of pressure since it’s the last night of the month but just don’t ever let that happen again please” then she chuckled and let me stay off the phones until the end of my shift to save me from losing thousands of dollars in commission. I spent another 5 years there and never once had anything like this happen to me again, lesson learned. I even got promoted twice!

Anonymous             North Carolina   

I sell insurance and have been in the business for close to a decade. A few years ago, I was assigned a website lead for a guy who wanted to change out his policies on his home and his vehicles. He worked as a technician or something similar, though I can’t remember exactly what he did, but it was something technical. 

On my first call with the guy, he was extremely skeptical. He kept asking questions like “What’s the catch?” and “There’s nothing hidden in this paperwork, is there?” These aren’t unusual things for people to ask, but he was taking it over the top, borderline accusing me and the company of being scammers, even though he was the one who reached out to us. 

Eventually, we were getting ready to put together all the paperwork for him to sign, and he gave me a hard time basically all the way through, sending emails that basically made it clear how he didn’t trust insurance companies or salespeople. Finally, I got so frustrated that I went to my boss and asked what to do. My boss looked at me and said to tell this guy that if he doesn’t trust us, he’s welcome to take his business somewhere else. 

So that’s what I did. I emailed him a long message that I spent quite a bit of time on telling him that I (and the company) always conduct ourselves with the highest integrity and that if he doesn’t feel comfortable with us, that it’s totally understandable, and that it makes sense for him to work with somebody he feels comfortable with. 

A few hours after I sent the email, he responded thanking me and almost (not quite) apologizing for how he had been acting, and saying that he’s just trying to cross his t’s and dot his i’s. He said to send the paperwork and that he would sign it. So we sent the paperwork, and the guy completely ghosted me and never picked up my calls or responded to my emails again. Most obnoxious deal I’ve ever worked on before or since. 

Anonymous             Location Withheld   

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