Yesterday, I was sitting at my local Panera Bread when I overheard a conversation in the booth next to me: “You just call them and say, ‘Hey are you free Thursday at 7:30 p.m.? Let’s meet at Donatos.’ You don’t explain why you’re meeting, that way they don’t ask questions and they’ll meet you there.”
This, of course, piqued my interest so I listened further. It was a group of four girls and the leader of the group was explaining some sort of ‘multilevel marketing’ concept (often affectionately referred to as a pyramid scheme), as she tried to recruit each of them. One of the three girls ‘opted out’ of the conversation when the leader asked her to solicit her friends to join them for the meeting on Thursday by way of a cold call. No dice.
The other two girls were more interested. They allowed the leader of the group to look at their phones (OMG!) and help them reach out to their ‘friends’ inviting them to the upcoming meeting. The calls went something like this:
“Hey girl. I’m a local business owner and your friend <fill in the blank> told me you are one of her sharpest friends. So, we knew you’d be interested in what we’re doing. It’s going to be big. This is a huge opportunity we think will be perfect for you. Are you free to meet at Donatos Thursday at 7:30 p.m.?”
The Blind Leading the Blind
First, we could assume that neither the friend nor the girl that is allowing the leader to solicit her friend are, in fact, ‘sharp’. Beyond that though, this is not sales. These girls aren’t local business owners because their ‘business’ is not sustainable. They are peddling someone else’s business while tricking others into doing the same. This is not selling. Lying is not selling.
How can someone or even a group of people get so off course and lose sight of the value that is relationship building through transparency? Maybe the behavior demonstrated by the leader in this group is a rare. Maybe she neglected any coaching previously received instead choosing to lie through her teeth as demonstrated above. Maybe. I doubt it though.
More likely, she had someone train her as she is now training others. The scenario was so distributing, it was all I could do to keep from standing up and asking if this ‘business’ was so successful, why they felt a need to trick people into learning more about it? I held my tongue.
People are Not Transactions
The ironic part of all this? The girl leading the pack above, was really rather pleasant. She seemed to connect well with others and make them feel comfortable (at least until she started ‘selling’ to them.) She was a fast-talker and obviously had a lot of learning to do but with a better teacher and non-shady business venture, she could eventually be good at sales.
Moral of the Story
People are not transactions. People are people. We, as people, value relationships and trust. We don’t want to be ‘sold’ and we esteem honesty. If we feel like we’re getting ‘sold’ or even tricked as in the case above, we won’t trust you and we won’t follow you.
Although these terrible solicitation tactics exist my hope is that they’re few and far between …
Have you been a victim of a similar ‘sales pitch’?
What’s your #1 sales tip?