Are You a Professional Salesperson or a Scam Artist?

Last week I had a fascinating unpleasant experience with a couple of door-to-door “salespeople”; the quotation marks around salespeople is because they were, in my estimation, anything but real salespeople, especially the one who did all the talking.  Allow me to walk you through the experience.

Nicki and I were coming home from dinner out with some friends; it was sometime around 7:00 P.M., already dark outside as we pulled into the garage.  As I got out of the driver’s door and walked around the car, I saw two young men approaching from the cul-de-sac, then up the driveway straight for me; I paused, wondering what they wanted.  If I would have known what was coming, I’d have turned my back and headed for the door, closed the garage door without a word; but, alas, I wasn’t clairvoyant.

The young man who did the talking dove right into his approach without so much as a word of “Do you have a moment so I can share something important with you?” (what I always said in an in-person cold call; although I never called on anyone at that hour at a residence).  He works (“most likely”) for an independent contracting firm doing business for sparkenergy®, an alternative utility company to ComEd®, our electric company in the northern metropolitan area of Chicago; there are number of such alternative utility choices; I’m constantly getting direct mail from them.

He carried a clipboard with a piece of paper of some kind, which had written on it the term “ComEd®; and as he dove into his spiel, the first thing he said as he pointed to the paper was something which was designed to associate, affiliate his company with ComEd®, as if they were working together on what it was he wanted to discuss with me, never mind that the two companies are not associated in any way, are, indeed, competitors.  I immediately saw through his subterfuge and called him on it.  The kid was trained to hold his ground and kept pointing to the paper to “prove” the “connection” he was trying to assert.

“What company do you work for,” I asked, to no avail.  I must have asked the same question two or three more times, trying to pin him down.

I never got a direct answer, just more pointing and uttering of the standard line to get past any objections like that, so as to keep making the nonexistent “connection” with the main utility serving the area—piggybacking on their name.  After three or four more failed attempts to get him to acknowledge that he and his company had no connection other than being competitors, I told him I was done, wasn’t interested, and he could leave.  When he kept on talking, I turned away, angrily told him to go make his next call.  He told me I was rude.

Now I was steaming, really pissed.  So much so that I told him what I thought of him, his approach, his company, and it wasn’t praise I was spouting.  He kept insisting I was the one who was rude, ignoring how he had broken every rule this old pro considers sacrosanct for a professional salesperson.

The next day I did some research on sparkenergy®; when I called the number on their website I spoke to a telephone representative, but was informed that there was no way to call the company directly in Houston, Texas.  I discovered in that conversation that the men who had called on me “most likely” were independent contractors, hired to bring in business for the company, not, “more than likely,” employees of the company.  A supervisor called me back later but couldn’t offer any direct contact with the individual responsible for sales for the company (I wanted to help the guy by offering some constructive criticism).

The next thing I did was research some complaint sites, and, in my subjective opinion, found a treasure trove of complaints about this company, which made my blood boil and my skin crawl.  I saw terms like “scam,” “teaser rate then double to tripple [sic] the bill,” “lied about being cheaper,” “lying about being less expensive,” “twice my normal rate,” “they have ignored all email correspondence,” “last year, a person came into my office with ‘Con Edison’ Credentials…”  I could go on and on, but you get the idea.  Check it out for yourself.

This story begs the question Who are you, what kind of salesperson are you?  Are you a professional, interested in the welfare of all the people you deal with, or a scam artist out “working” to pull the wool over people’s eyes, trick them into doing “business” with you just to make a fast buck?  Do you have a conscious or are you devoid of one?  Is it about the customer or just all about you?  Are they “customers” or “mooches,” “idiots” you can take for a ride?

This site is for professionals of the highest caliber; if you’re a scam artist, go someplace else!