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Quiz: Can This Sales Call Be Saved?

What can you do when a sales call goes bad? O'm not talking about the typical blip in the sales cycle. I'm talking about a disaster that makes you cringe when you think about it, even years later.

Here are five classic real-life sales call disasters. Read the short description and then vote on whether it's possible to save the sales call and move the sale forward. Then click to find out the correct answer.

Here's the first:

SALES CALL DISASTER #1: "I started chatting with the prospect about television comedies. I said, 'it's amazing Drew Carey can be so popular given that he's so ugly.' Then I noticed that the customer looked exactly like Drew Carey."


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SALES CALL DISASTER #1: "I started chatting with the prospect about television comedies. I said, 'it's amazing Drew Carey can be so popular given that he's so ugly.' Then I noticed that the customer looked exactly like Drew Carey."


The correct answer: YES.
The trick here is not to give any sign whatsoever that you realize the guy looks like Drew Carey. If the customer says something like "I look like Drew Carey," then you give him an appraising stare and say something like "I don't think so. I think you look more like Jesse Ventura." Or something of the sort.

Of course, if you've already done the double take and blushed, you're pretty much screwed, in which case the answer is NO.
Click here to view the next disaster »


SALES CALL DISASTER #2: "I saw a photo of my customer with his arm around sports personality John Madden. I was impressed, so I asked: 'How did you ever get your picture taken with John Madden?' The customer's reply: 'That's my wife.'"


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SALES CALL DISASTER #2: "I saw a photo of my customer with his arm around sports personality John Madden. I was impressed, so I asked: 'How did you ever get your picture taken with John Madden?' The customer's reply: 'That's my wife.'"


The correct answer is NO.

In this case, the insult is already out of the box, and there's no way to take it back or gloss over it. The only exception would be if the customer happens to think John Madden is attractive.

Click here to view the next disaster »


SALES CALL DISASTER #3: "I had to use the restroom before calling on a firm. When another man came in the restroom with a burning cigarette, so I gave him a dirty look. The smoker, of course, was the client I had come to meet."


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SALE CALL DISASTER #3: "I had to use the restroom before calling on a firm. When another man came in the restroom with a burning cigarette, so I gave him a dirty look. The smoker, of course, was the client I had come to meet."


The correct answer is (probably) NO.
It's nearly impossible to sell to somebody after you've marked them, in a social setting, as a pariah. You might possibly try an apology and an explanation. It would have to be something along the lines of "Even though most of my family smokes, I'm highly allergic and I was afraid I might break out in hives before this meeting, which is really very important to me." It's a long shot though.

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SALES CALL DISASTER #4: "My manager and I had slurpee drinks before the sales call. The customer looked at us oddly when he greeted us. It wasn't until we began presenting that we realized the drinks had made our tongues bright red and green."


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SALES CALL DISASTER #4: "My manager and I had slurpee drinks before the sales call. The customer looked at us oddly when he greeted us. It wasn't until we began presenting that we realized the drinks had made our tongues bright red and green."


The correct answer is YES.
While this is a silly mistake to make, it's not something that reflects all that poorly on you. You could probably just explain and then laugh it off. Best case, it might become a funny story that builds a better customer relationship. (Note: this story is a relatively famous one that's been told many times.)

Click here to view the final disaster »


SALES CALL DISASTER #5: "Just as I arrived at customer's parking lot, I discovered my pen had leaked all over my shirt. I pulled off my shirt, tossed it in the bushes, and donned a clean one. I later found out that the customer has been watching from the window.


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SALES CALL DISASTER #5: "Just as I arrived at customer's parking lot, I discovered my pen had leaked all over my shirt. I pulled off my shirt, tossed it in the bushes, and donned a clean one. I later found out that the customer had been watching from the window.


The correct answer is YES.
This disaster happened because you wanted to have a professional appearance for the meeting. All you need do is explain that your original shirt got stained.

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