Sales Fails: "My prospect got screamed at by his wife in the middle of a sales call"

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I had a funny thing happen to me recently that I thought would be perfect for your newsletter. I’m in B2B sales, but would rather not mention my industry since I want this to remain completely confidential.

About a month and a half ago, I was on a sales call with a potential prospect. They were working remotely, and I was too (I am fully remote). This was my second Zoom meeting with them. I had already sent a proposal over and this was scheduled so that we could go over their questions, which they’d put together after talking to their team.

So we had just gotten on the call and were doing a bit of small talk. The prospect was in his bedroom or in an office with the door closed. He seemed to be in a good mood and not overly concerned about anything. 

All of a sudden, the door swung open and a woman, who I assume was his wife or partner, came in screaming. “You REALLY did that. REALLY!?” She completely ignored the fact that he was on a call and stood just off camera, while the guy spun around in his chair to look at her, seeming completely shocked. 

The only other things I heard her yell were, “You are the most DISRESPECTFUL person I’ve ever met in my entire life,” and “ME, ME, ME, it’s always all about you, isn’t it,” before the screen went black as he’d clearly ended the call. 

I got an apologetic email from him a few hours later, and he promised he would be in touch after talking to his bosses. We are still in contact, but he hasn’t gotten the sign-off yet. I kind of hope I get to talk to him again so he can tell me what he did that was so bad lol. 

Anonymous             Location withheld 

A long time ago (about 17 years) I was working in sales for a big company in the Northeast. Our commissions were paid on tiers, so you made more per deal if you hit the higher tiers than you would on lower tiers, which created all sorts of incentives to do anything possible to get to the higher tier. 

One of the things employees would do is transfer deals into each other’s names if they weren’t going to hit the higher tier, so that they could help each other up. Transferring a deal would help the coworker hit the higher tier and bump up their pay, and then the person would just pay the sales rep whose deal it was out of their paycheck. This was going on for quite a while when I started. 

Well, one day, on payday, there were two coworkers who had arranged such a deal. This was way before Venmo, so usually when one person paid the other one out, it would be in cash. This was the first time these two had made this arrangement together.  

When the guy whose name the deals were under paid the other guy, the second guy got upset. He felt that he should be paid the full gross amount of what he would have made, instead of the net (after taxes). The first guy said no way, because the taxes had already been taken out of his paycheck. It started as a small argument, but eventually, they started shouting at each other and almost came to blows. Other people had to hold them back. 

The manager sent them both home and wrote them up. A week later, the whole sales department (which was scattered across the country) got an email warning them that switching deals into other people’s names was illegal and that anyone caught doing it would be fired immediately. The funny thing was these two never got fired for it. But they did stop doing it and none of us ever put deals into other people’s names again. 

Anonymous             Location withheld 

This happened to me in my second year working in sales, and it still haunts my dreams. I was working in B2B software sales, long before Zoom meetings became the norm. We would entertain clients in our offices for sales meetings and go to their offices as well, so there was always quite a bit of face-to-face interaction. 

One summer, I was working with a prospect company we were looking to sign. The lead had actually come from another sales rep who had left my company, and I took over the process and was moving everything along. Things were looking good. 

This company happened to be in the same city we were in, so we invited them to our office for a catered lunch and sales presentation. Three people from the company showed up — two VPs and a Director. Two women and one man. We put them in our conference room and I joined them, along with my sales manager and another rep who sometimes doubled as our sales engineer since he was very technically savvy. 

So we were all in the room and the VPs were talking, telling us about what they were looking for in a product. And one of the VPs, a woman who was very direct and kind of no-nonsense, said, “Look, if you make us a good proposal, we’re ready to sign today.” She looked directly at me when she said this, since I was their main point of contact.

To this day, I don’t know why I did this, but I looked back at her, and without skipping a beat, made my voice sound like Vito Corleone from The Godfather, and said, “I’m gonna make you an offer you can’t refuse.” The whole room immediately fell silent. You could hear a pin drop. It was the longest few seconds of my life. Finally, my sales manager looked at me, and broke the silence by saying we’d be happy to put something together. I still die inside a little when I think about it. But the worst part? We didn’t even close the deal. Sales Fail! 

Anonymous             Location withheld

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