13 Dec 2011

My preferred hotel during trips to corporate HQ is a Holiday Inn Express on El Camino. It satisfies my hotel selection criteria: free food, free internet, a shower head that doesn’t shoot water lasers, firm pillows, and a housekeeping staff that's okay with *not* cleaning my room. While I'm pretty easy to please, such simple luxuries don't come without their share of compromise; this hotel in particular is located in a neighborhood that belongs in a Chris Rock bit. On your way there the view from the window goes something like: liquor store, porn store, liquor store, shady motel. So you can imagine the adventure when Chip, Ned, and I decided to find a bar we could walk to. 

After some discussion we decided to try the place across the street and quickly suspected they offered more "services" than a traditional bar. After dismissing their beer selection I ordered my standard rum and soda. The bartender informed me they didn't have that, and I assumed she meant soda. So I asked if I could have a rum and water instead. This too was met with a very smiley "we don't have that either." I confirmed she didn't have rum, and pressed on. I could see bottles of Kettle One so I changed my order to "Kettle One and water." The boys ordered a couple Jack and cokes. Simple enough, or so we thought.

The bartender left, presumably to assemble our cocktails. When she returned she served me a simple shot glass of, what I assumed was vodka. Chip jumped in and attempted to correct the situation through a series of very targeted gesticulations, and further described booze in a glass of ice water concept. The bartender nodded and went back, but again returned with shots. In a third round trip managed to bring us three chasers, so we rolled with it. After knocking them back, however, we were confused because none of the booze tasted as expected.

The bill revealed the boys were in fact drinking Patron, and I got some kind of Chivas. Apparently tequila is to whisky what vodka is to scotch. The whole experience was such a hot mess that all we could so was laugh. But it made me wonder how often sales people simply disregard the customer’s request in favor of pushing their own agenda? Since we didn't notice until after we consumed the product and therefore couldn't correct things, did that somehow make it okay? Does the “better to seek forgiveness than ask permission” mantra really apply to sales as her behavior would have us believe?

Ten years ago, maybe. But today social media gives every loudmouth with a keyboard (like me) a voice. Suddenly you're not just asking a single wronged customer for forgiveness, instead you must ask the greater cyber space arena to forgive you as well. The nonsense with Alex Baldwin made Anderson Cooper for fuck's sake! Today your failures are touted so much louder than your successes that a company's customer service defines their brand as much, if not more, than their product.

So this week, sell honorably. The expectations you set are as important as the product you deliver; set your implementation teams up to succeed by being true to your customer and you'll ensure long term success.

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Last modified on Friday, 09 January 2015 22:55
Erin Wilson

I find great amusement in everyday absurdities and am constantly surprised by how my bar-ventures, my travels, and even my food-qusitions relate to the shenanigans that is software sales. I am grateful for the opportunity to leverage the Sapient Salesman as an outlet to share with you my follies, and I hope you can enjoy the schadenfreude.

Website: ebullienterin.com/

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