Just moments before departing for the airport following my first un-official night at Pied-à-terre de Peebles, something amazing happened! I encountered my first door to door salesman, or in this case, a couple of saleswomen – both my age, one geeky and one a looker. They stopped by to ask me how my home phone service was treating me. I forgave this blatant failure to use CRM, and informed them I’d only just gotten my keys to the place and currently have no utilities. The conversation that ensued was so simply amazing, I’m a little upset I had to cut it short.
I began by telling them I had to leave for the airport in 20 min and would not be making any decisions today, as I intended to make my internet decision Thursday. I went on to divulge my ignorance regarding AT&T’s offering. This remark yielded stunned faces, so I went on to explain how AT&T caused me to believe that cell phone technology simply didn’t improve between 1999 and 2009, and since my switch to Verizon I hadn’t given AT&T a second thought. “But you two seem reasonable, so I’m willing to hear you out. Given my abbreviated timeline, however, I really only have a couple of questions. 1) What’s your upload speed? and 2) How much?” The looker asked who else I was considering, and the geek met my response head on with a dissertation about their technology’s vast superiority to Comcast. After a good 90 seconds, I stopped her – assured her I understood how the internet works, and suggested she let her companion deliver the answer to my question that hopefully resided on the paper she’d been holding in a death grip while painstakingly waiting for her girl to shut up.
The answers to two additional textbook questions (How many channels would you like? What kind of bundle were you thinking?) rendered the ladies confused. How could someone have absolutely zero desire for TV service? (Apparently the geek doesn’t know as much about the inter-workings of the internet as she let on.) Once they realized I was serious, the geek offered me a workaround where I could scam the system. That moment encapsulated entirely the respect I’d share for her; the journey down from this high point over the next 5 minutes was priceless – the hard sell was on!
I learned that they’d work around *my* schedule, that I’d save a $200 installation fee, even that they don’t have cards because “AT&T issues a lot of paper, and cards would be unmanageable.” At one point I actually said: “I don’t know how I can be more clear, while I appreciate what you’re trying to do right now, but I’m not going to sign, buy, or agree to anything today.” This didn’t disrupt the geeks drive, and I swear I could see the rage brewing in the looker’s eyes. Having apparently forgot my airport intentions, she even offered to come by later that night if I needed more time to think. My reminder knocked little miss hard sell back onto her original platform – that the tech AT&T uses for internet is so much better than Comcast, I’d be crazy to even consider letting this opportunity slip thru my fingers! She then drew from the clipboard the world’s longest order form. I took one look and said:
“Look even if I wanted to move forward today, I don’t have time to fill all that out, ’cause I need to jet, literally. So if you’re telling me there is absolutely no way for me to secure this deal online, or contact you on Thursday, well then that’s just unfortunate. But what I *can* tell you is now that I’m aware that AT&T offers fiber, I will consider you as a provider. Thank you for stopping by, and please take the fact that you successfully introduced competition into the selection process as a win. I have all I need for today.”
Had there been a table, the looker would have kicked the geek under it, because you could feel the woman concocting her retort. Thankfully the sales lady managed to edge out a turn at the helm, and end the conversation. As I locked the door, I thought “Wow! I hope that’s not how I was during my stint as an SE.” (I’m sure I was worse, lol)
So this week, manage your support team. Your technical resources have a specific role to fill; work with them to stay within the lines. Together, as a team, you will close strong, but remember: you’re the quarterback, so control the field, the deal, and the close.