Sometimes we can learn a lot about selling when we are on the other side of the table, wearing the buyers hat.  I was reminded of this recently – that there are still some salespeople with absolutely no clue how to earn the right to my business and that of my friends.  Here is the story:

Last May, my local gym shut down unexpectedly.  When a new gym went into construction on the same site, I was quite pleased, as the location was very convenient for me.  It was scheduled to open in September.

In August, I went into the sales office and was told that as a member of the gym that closed, I could get a free seven day pass, and I was told what the membership prices were.

In September, the open date was pushed to October.

In October, the gym still wasn’t done.

Finally, in November, it opened.  I was there on the first day of operation to work out on my first day on my free trial pass.

The gym had beautiful, new equipment, but the work was far from done.  For example:

  • the saunas were not yet working
  • there were no clocks on the walls
  • the bathroom had no soap or paper towels
  • the locks for the lockers failed repeatedly
  • the urinals did not flush
  • the showers had no hot water
  • once the sauna opened (a few days after the opening), the door did not close properly, there was no water bucket, and no hour glass on the wall
  • etc

By the end of my 7 day trial, most of these problems were still not solved.

Now this gym was considered a luxury gym, and with prices to match, so when I went back to the sales office wanting to sign up for a six month membership, I was prepared to ask for a price discount due to the “work-in-progress” condition of the gym.

The first thing that I was told was that the price had gone up 10% since I asked in August (remember, this is after a seven day trial that I started on the first day).  Apparently, the August price was only good during the first week that the gym was open, but after my seven day trial, we were into the second week.  In other words, the cost of my seven day trial was certainly more than free, which was never made clear to me.  The salesperson did not seem to realize that this was fundamentally wrong, and that she had effectively cheated me by offering the seven day free trial and not telling me about the VERY limited timing of the pricing she offered me originally.

As far as my request for a discount, I was told that the salesperson had to talk to her boss.  So I told her that I would be back in a few days, and that we could finalize things then.  She said she would call me the same day.

She didn’t call.

She wasn’t available the next time I came back, so I gave her colleague my business card to have her call me.

She didn’t call.

A few days later, I went in a bought a 10-visit pass.  I had no desire to make a 6 or 12 month commitment to an organization that seemed so poorly managed.  As I exercised, I saw my salesperson, and she asked me to come see her after I was done with my work out.

I went in, and was told that the boss said no discount.  Good thing I bought my pass.

But wait – here is the kicker….

As we finished our conversation, she asked me if I had any friends that might want to join the gym, and if so, to please direct them to her.

So what should we think – does she get points for asking for referrals? Clearly this is something that a salesperson should be doing, right?

Well, it seems to me that if a salesperson wants to do more than just ask for a referral, but rather to instill the kind of trust that it takes to enable a client to offer a referral from among their friends and colleagues, then a certain level of service and professionalism might go a long way in helping to get that done.  That didn’t happen here, and neither will any referrals!

I wonder if reading a blog post like this might help her to understand where things went wrong…..

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Authors note (AKA shameless plugs)

So, this 7-step sales process and associated topics…. Yup, I write about that a lot. I’ve been working with it since I developed it about 25 years ago – in my own diverse work experiences, with my teams when I had them, and with clients ever since.

If you would like to develop you own personalized and customized, highly effective and efficient B2B selling system, here are some further steps you can take:

The Salesman’s Guide to Dating is a free or very cheap (depending on Amazon) Kindle book that walks you through the sales process using the familiar analogy of dating. It’s a good, fun and quick way to get your mind around the whole process and how the pieces fit together.

Building Your Sales Process (BYSP) is a free and very thorough exploration of the same 7-step process that will walk you through the development of your own customized, personal B2B selling system. When you are done, you will know exactly what to do to get new business.

The Momentum Selling System® is an inexpensive but very robust online sales training course that is similar to BYSP, but goes deeper into the concepts behind each of the steps, and also helps you develop a plan not only for the 7-step process but also addresses mindset, repeat business and client base management.

If none of that sounds right, I do personal coaching and offer a free 30-minute intake session so that we can both learn if it makes sense to work together 1-on-1. If this sounds interesting, click over to the coaching page on this site and sign up for the free session.

Here’s to your success!

-David