Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Sales Fail

I love As Seen On TV products. Anyone who REALLY knows me, knows I love that stuff. Even in my Jdate profile years ago I copped to owning a Eurosealer. When I discovered Brown & Crisp bags in the late 90's, I thought my life was complete.

I think I was around eight when I bought my first As Seen On TV product. I feel like I must have asked my mother, while she was sleeping, as was when I often asked her things, if it was ok if I got these special markers from tv. She probably opened an eye, or not, and just eeked out an "uh-huh". I took her credit card and my special markers were on their way. I was uber-excited.

Somehow this infomercial product love is hereditary because my five year old has not met a commercial or infomercial he doesn't like. Often, he will run upstairs to tell either B or myself about the totally awesome product we just HAVE to have to make our lives better. Last week, E said, "Mom! You know how daddy sometimes can't sleep so he comes down and sleeps on the couch. Then he wakes up and his back really hurts?? They have this cool thing where you just put it in your mouth and you go to sleep! We can get that for him for his birthday so he can sleep!" I have no idea if this is some kind of Ambien or a plastic mouthpiece. What I do know is that the love of As Seen On TV has officially been passed down.

I also like Lori Greiner on Shark Tank. I like Shark Tank in general. I like entrepreneurs. I guess having a business with my husband, making things, we're entrepreneurs. What I don't like is companies that prey on the bored, weak, or desperate. I don't like companies that tell people that sales is easy, that you can do it with minimal work from home, and that give moronic sales and marketing instructions. Welcome to the current world of direct sales, multi-level marketing, scams, schemes and cults.

I'm sure there are going to be folks who take offense to the above paragraph. And not all people involved in these companies fit the bill of who I'm targeting here. It's more a situation of "if the shoe fits". In my estimation, with a cross-section of people I know, a lot of shoes are fitting.

I can't believe I have to write about this again. Yet, I have to write about it again, especially in light of how I feel like I'm living in Groundhog Day (the movie). Same stuff, different day. I can't even take it anymore. It's to the point where I'm afraid to talk to anyone, anywhere. Or afraid to open my email.

I received a tremendous response to my previous blog entry about this called Bombarded.  It's actually my most popular entry in over three hundred entries. It has gotten thousands of views. I consistently get private emails by people who need to vent about friends, coworkers, neighbors, family, and acquaintances who are basically harassing them with direct sales. So, direct sales people- this is for you. Listen up and listen good.

  • Do NOT take an email list used for other purposes to use for your mailing list. If you get emailed for a school event, a block party, a coffee social, you cannot just take that list and assume people will be ok with you emailing about your new business. All that does is piss people off. I don't know how many times or ways I need to say this. I don't know why you think you're the special snowflake that isn't going to piss people off. Maybe you'll get one or two hits off it but you ARE alienating the others. Trust me. Please. If you've done this- I've gotten an email about it. For real.

  • KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE. If you basically stole that email list and you're going to use it no matter what I say- GO THROUGH IT FIRST. If you're selling products aimed at women, take the men off your list. If you're selling something aimed at young people, take the olds off. Is your seventy year old, crusty, male neighbor really going to be interested in your product? Think about this. There is a word "target" for a reason. You have one. Figure out what that is before you just fill any group of email boxes.

  • Do NOT go on to FB pages that are not for selling and push your product. There was a case this morning that I saw where this happened. Maybe it was last night and this morning. I can't keep up. I'm in a group that's JUST for basic mom chat. It is SPECIFIED that there is to be no selling. If someone ASKS for recommendation of a business or a solution to a problem, you are free to answer if your business is the answer to their question. I'm not sure if people are being purposely ignorant, born ignorant, or just have no concept of reading comprehension. I don't know if these companies are telling their sales force to just bombard people with the info, asked for or not, and someone will take them up on it. I don't know. What I do know is when I see your fat "before" and ripped "after" picture and a whole lot of cryptic blah-blah about making the decision to change your life, in a group specifically stating it's not a sales group, I scroll right by shaking my head. Then I report you to Facebook for spam. And I'm sure others report you too, if they know how.

  • Do NOT continually harass someone who has shown no interest. Or someone who has flat out told you they aren't interested. It's weird and awkward! No, you're not wrong when you feel like someone is avoiding you. It's because you're relentless and barking up the wrong tree. Maybe they would try it if it didn't cost $350 or if they didn't have to get roped into a monthly replenishment situation. The fact is, they said no. No means no. We teach that to our kids and it goes for adults too.

  • Be courteous to EACH OTHER. I have never seen such shark infested waters as the mom's exchange/mom-"chat" Facebook pages. I cringe inside when I see a mom ask about losing weight or for an eye cream recommendation. She has no idea what Pandora's Box she's opening, but that's even besides the point. In like fifteen seconds there is a sea of "I can help you! PM ME!", "I can change your life! I PM'd you!", "I use it, it's the best, I had amazing results, PM me for more information", or some variation of that. Those posts end up with seventy-five replies and guess what- they're almost all reps and they almost all KNOW each other. I have no idea why anyone would join a direct sales company that has a beyond oversaturated sales territory in their area, but that's not my problem. If you see five people ahead of you answered that you are fully aware sell the same thing, it's not being passive to sit that one out. You make sure you jump on the next one. Someone else got there first. That's sales. You're selling the same product and not saying anything different than the bunch before you to make them go with you instead. Have some professional courtesy.

  • ANSWER THE QUESTION ASKED. What does this mean? If someone posts on a message board or Facebook group "I have a gift card to Bloomingdales. I want to get a really good eye cream. Can someone recommend something they love?"- THEY ARE NOT ASKING FOR YOUR DIRECT SALES BRAND EYE CREAM. Unless, of course, it's SOLD IN BLOOMINGDALES. I know you want to get your business out there, but there is pretty much nothing more annoying than getting an answer that has nothing to do with the question asked. She didn't ask for any eye cream. She asked for one in a store she has a gift card in. I don't know what is so hard to understand about that. I want to bang my head against the wall when I read this kind of thing. It like someone asking for a gynecologist recommendation and someone saying- "I don't have a gyno but I do have a great cardiologist if you ever need one!" WHAT?? NO. Just. No.

  • Stop posting incessantly about products. Just. Stop. If everything you post is about your direct sales, you're going to start wondering why no one is liking your photos and statuses anymore when you used to have regular interactions with your network. It's because THEY HID YOU. They didn't defriend you but you've filled their feeds with your sales pitches for the last time. They just hit that little "unfollow" tab so they could take a breather from your sales suffocation. You are not one dimensional. Stop acting like you are. You used to have a life that you used to share before partaking of this new venture.

  • If we haven't spoken in twenty years, chances are, I'm not the place to start for your sales. I know I write a blog and it would be really awesome if you could get me to promote your direct sales product, but it's NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN. I am 100% authentic. Unless I use it and love it, I'm not promoting it. I seek out what I want. If I haven't sought it out, it's likely not because I don't know about it- I'm just not interested. How do you not know it's beyond transparent when I haven't seen or heard from you since Clinton was president but you all of a sudden want to email me about how cute my kid is, ask me some random questions about my business, and drop hints about yours?? Come on. Give people a little credit.
If we're friends, we can totally talk about your new sales opportunity. As friends. Not as you trying to sell something. I can promise you that unless you ask me about lighting, I'm not going to try to push you into buying a chandelier. So please extend to me, and the rest of your real friends the same courtesy. Tell friends and family what you're doing- by all means. Be excited about it. If it sounds like something they might be interested in, they may ask you some questions. Or not. Leave it at that. Learn how to read people. That's a HUGE part of sales. Psychology. Reading people. Knowing when to back off.

SALES IS NOT EASY. It's not. Any company you're thinking of joining that tells you sales is easy is lying. They are a crappy company. If they tell you that it's minimal work, they're wrong. Not everyone is a sales person. And you're not a salesperson if you're just parroting some bad marketing and inundating people who don't want that product with information they didn't ask for. If you can't have a conversational, email, or Facebook exchange without trying to sell something, you're doing it wrong. I don't care if someone you know or a friend of a friend's mom's aunt got the BMW from selling this stuff. You're not going to get that BMW if you just annoy and alienate people. I'm not saying it's not possible to achieve high sales goals with any of these companies. I'm saying "results not typical" and I'm making you aware of all the ways you're not doing yourself any favors.

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