Sales Fails: The college party that came back to haunt 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).

“A few years ago, I was working a prospect who was taking a while to warm up to me. We’re in the wholesale apparel business, so there aren’t a ton of potential customers out there, so we need to really focus on building relationships. 

Finally, I got this guy to agree to a meeting by inviting him out to dinner. I tell him to pick the spot, and he picks a Chinese restaurant on his side of the city. I tell him that sounds great, so we settle on a day and time, and everything is in motion. 

The afternoon when I’m supposed to meet him, I get stuck on the phone with someone else and am running about fifteen minutes late. Making things even worse, there’s a ton of traffic on the way to the restaurant, so I call the guy on his cell phone and apologize profusely and tell him I’m about twenty minutes behind, which was being generous. 

Finally, we pull up to the restaurant, and I hop out and sprint inside to meet the guy, but he’s nowhere to be seen. I’m totally confused, so I call him back and he says he’s sitting at a table right near the entrance. Still, I can’t see this guy. 

After going back and forth, and talking to the bartender, an awful realization comes over me. This place we were supposed to meet was called Sichuan Gourmet, but I was at a restaurant called Sichuan Garden, halfway across town. I apologized over and over, and the prospect said it wasn’t a big deal, but he said he needed to head out, and never answered my calls or emails again.”

Anonymous, 46           Boston, MA      

“I’ve been in sales since I got out of college, but my first job interview was kind of strange/hilarious. First, we have to go back to my college days. I was definitely a partier, and the guys I hung out with at school were pretty rowdy too. There were seven of us, and we all rented a house off campus that was known for its wild parties.

One night, we were having a pretty low-key jam, maybe a few dozen people at the most, but we were all pretty buzzed. This one guy kept hitting on a female friend of mine who used to hang out at our place. At some point, she started trying to get away from him, but he kept following her around and bugging her. 

I’m a pretty big guy, and back then I was definitely eager to get into scraps, so I went up to the guy and got in his face. He started yelling back at me, and we started grabbing each other before a bunch of other people broke it up. We didn’t kick him out because he knew one of my roommates, but they basically kept us in separate rooms the rest of the night. 

Fast forward about two years. I’m a recent graduate, looking to get into the world of sales. I finally get an interview at a financial firm – entry level investments sales. I put on my best shirt and tie, grab my resume (we did paper resumes in those days) and head into the glass tower in the next town over. I go up the elevator, open the door, and guess who is sitting in a desk literally facing the entryway right when you walk in? Yeah, you guessed it, the guy whose head I almost took off at my house a few years earlier. 

He wasn’t the one interviewing me, but the waiting area was right next to his desk, so we basically kept looking at each other the whole time while I waited for the interview. Neither one of us said a word, but we both knew. Even the guy behind him was like, “Hey man, see if he wants some water or something,” and the guy straight up ignored him lol. 

Interview went well, but I didn’t end up getting an offer. Gee, I wonder why…”

Anonymous, 39      Rhode Island 

“Let me just start off by saying that this was 100% my own doing. I am in the mortgage industry. I work for a bank now, but I started my career working for a big company that you’ve probably heard of – they advertise a lot on TV and radio.  

I had finally finished my training and passed my licensing exam. The sales manager who was training me said I was ready to work deals by myself, so that's exactly what I did. 

My first call was from a guy who wanted to pull some cash out of his house. I went through all the questions, looked at the day’s pricing, made all the adjustments and told him what we could do. He immediately perked up and asked me to confirm it for him again. I confirmed it and he said he wanted to get the process started. It was my first call by myself so I was thrilled. 

About an hour later, I got a call on my direct line from someone who said they were this guy’s (the one who I had just talked to) brother, and that he was interested in working with me too. By this point, I’m on cloud nine. I’m thinking I’m gonna kill it in this business… I’m a natural.

All of a sudden, my sales manager emails me and tells me that I misquoted the first customer. He was reviewing the file I’d just submitted, and noticed that I missed two big adjustments. No clue how it happened, but I misquoted him by almost three quarters of a percent. 

I finished taking the brother’s information and promised to call him back, and immediately called the first guy and explained what happened. I apologized over and over again, but he told me since it was my mistake, we had to honor what we promised, which my manager said we wouldn’t do. Finally, he said that after talking to his wife, he didn’t feel comfortable with someone who would pull a “bait and switch,” and that his brother wasn’t going to be working with us either. Total Sales Fail, but I’ve done pretty well for myself since then :)”

Anonymous, 32           Arizona

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