Are Your Sales People Damaging Your Brand?

Damaging-BrandI have to admit, I’ve gone back and forth all day about whether or not to blog about this. But, ultimately, the story I’m about to share is an excellent example of why brands need customer journey research to truly understand their customer’s experience and to see how sales people are representing and/or damaging their brand.

There is a media database company I’d never heard of before called Meltwater, whose sales representative, “Cathy” has been calling and/or emailing everyone on my team EVERY DAY for more than a year, despite repeated assurances that we aren’t interested.

My team referred to the repeated calls as “harassment” and told me yesterday they avoid picking up the phone when they see the company on the caller ID. I advised them to tell “Cathy” the agency’s MD (me) said we aren’t looking to change our media vendor at this time … which, by the way, is the truth. I’ve only been on the job here for a few weeks and, as you can imagine, I have many more urgent priorities than switching our database vendor.

This morning, as I was trying to leave the house to go to a meeting, my cell phone rang, which must have required some snooping because no one on my team gave “Cathy” my cell phone number.

When I picked up, “Cathy” identified herself as a rep from Meltwater and dove right into her pitch full speed ahead. When she finally paused for a breath, I said, “I really appreciate it, but, we aren’t interested in making a change at this time. Thank you very much. Have a good day.” And, I hung up.

“Cathy” IMMEDIATELY CALLED ME BACK. Yep. You read that right. A prospect said she isn’t interested at this time and the salesperson’s response was to call right back. Once again, she launched into her pitch and I repeated, “It’s just not something we are interested in right now. But, thank you.” I hung up again and went back to getting dressed so I could leave for my meeting.

“Cathy” IMMEDIATELY CALLED ME A THIRD TIME.

When I picked up, she began speed talking about how she just wants to take more of my time to show me a demo because “my team wants this.”

Now, naturally, when my staff first mentioned Meltwater, I asked if they wanted this new service and asked if it gives us anything our current vendor doesn’t. They said no to both questions.

So, now, “Cathy” is lying to me AND harassing me…on my cell phone…at home…first thing in the morning.

This time, I wasn’t quite as polite as the previous two calls and said, “I don’t know any other way to put this to you, we aren’t interested.” And, I hung up without the “thank you” I’d previously offered.

If you can believe it – and I understand if you can’t – “Cathy” immediately called back a FOURTH TIME. I sent the call to voicemail where she proceeded to again tell me my staff wants this tool (they don’t) and that she has spent two years working with them (harassing them) and implied that she is OWED the chance to sell this to me because she has put so much time into us already.

It seems “Cathy” sent an email to someone on my team with a similar tone that she is owed our business because she’d spent so much time trying to sell us on it. She also said in the email she will not be calling us again based on my conversation with her this morning. This news was met by a round of applause from the five people who’ve been subjected to “Cathy’s” harassment.

Part of why I decided to share this story is another person in our agency told me when she worked for a major gaming company, she, too, got harassing calls from Meltwater to the point where she refused to answer the phone. And, that salesperson was not “Cathy.” So, it would seem this isn’t just the behavior of one bad salesperson, but, is an approved company practice that is most assuredly damaging the brand.

And, let’s be clear about something. I wasn’t forever opposed to switching media database vendors. As I told “Cathy” repeatedly, I’m simply not interested AT THIS TIME. But, I can assure you that now, I will never, ever, work with Meltwater. Ever. I don’t care if their service is better, cheaper or comes with a dozen red roses every week. They will not get my business simply because of how rude “Cathy” was.

So, what’s the point of this rant?

Simply this: ask yourself, do you really know how your brand is represented by salespeople, partners and associates? Have you ever tested the customer experience? If you haven’t, I strongly suggest you do. Secret shoppers and customer experience research is critical to uncovering major flaws that could cause significant damage to your brand’s reputation.

If you are interested in exploring customer experience research, let me know and my team and I will happily help out.

In the meantime, if you get a call from “Cathy” of Meltwater, might I suggest pretending you don’t speak English and then disconnecting your phone service, changing your name and relocating to another country so she may never be able to find you again.

 

3 comments

  1. As a Success Manager, I can appreciate pushing some. I also appreciate tenacity, but to your point this crossed the line of being tenacious to being over bearing. And continuing the subject, can a sales staff harm a company’s brand and reputation with over-promising unrealistic results to close the deal? (Not my current company).

    1. Absolutely! Once word gets out that a brand over-promises and under-delivers, the brand’s integrity is damaged. Once people no longer trust you or even question if they should trust you, your brand value will decline. And re: this experience – when she was telling me that my staff wanted this tool, she acknowledged that I’ve only been on the job for a few weeks. A smart move would have been to acknowledge that and say, “I am sure you have a lot on your plate right now. Could I call you in a couple of months once you’ve settled in?” I would have said yes to that. But, to call me FOUR TIMES on my cell, at home in the early morning hours – it was truly incomprehensible!!!

  2. We at Pineapple Public Relations had the same response from a male sales rep from the same company, and we were actually in favor of switching to Meltwater, but couldn’t at the time. He said almost the same thing – he is owed our business because he’d spent so much time trying to sell us on it. I hope they see the light.

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