Most of us plan ahead when we are giving a presentation or demo-ing. We anticipate traffic so we allow extra time to get to our customer’s office. We have backup plans for equipment failure. We sometimes double-book conference call access for our virtual meetings.
Then there are those situations we don’t anticipate. Because we couldn’t have dreamed up the scenario if we tried.
Which is what happened to me.
I arrived (early) at my customer’s facility. I was working with a vendor to create a new website featuring a search inside option for product catalogs. It was time to review the site before it went into final production. It was a complex project.
The Owner of the company, his General Manager and one of his product managers had gathered in the conference room. These were big, burly guys. The size of Offensive Linesmen. Are you getting the picture?
I had worked long and hard to overhaul this company’s business model. They were still selling in small quantities, with a door-to-door mindset, like the Owner’s father than done. Like the way it always had been done.
With input from the GM and product manager, the Owner realized that making his product lines available via a new website with integrated catalog functionality would be a cost-effective way of enhancing his practically non-existent sales force.
Everyone had rolled up their sleeves, gotten data sheets together, worked with the website vendor and gone through the review process. So here we were, sitting in front of the screen in the conference room, ready to take a look at the nearly-finished product.
First, we decided to take a look at their existing website. Then we would look at the catalog, housed on another server until completed. I typed in the company’s URL for their existing website.
And a website certainly did pop up. But not the company’s website.
You can imagine the type of website that appeared in response to the company’s URL. The text of the website wasn’t written in English, but it really didn’t matter. There were so many photos on the site that any one of these pictures (and there were way more than one of those photos) spoke a bazillion words.
Here I was, little old me. Sitting with the three Offensive Linesman-sized guys from the company. Their jaws dropped. Their faces were turning red. Their eyes were riveted to the screen because they were too embarrassed to look at me.
“Hmmm” I said. “I see we are not in Kansas anymore. These don’t look like any of your products or services!” The guys finally looked at me (I was smiling and calm) and just roared with laughter, and relief. They shook their heads and kept laughing.
I (mercifully) closed down the URL, took out my cell phone and called the hosting company for their current website. “Seems like our site’s been scraped temporarily.” I said. The host was able to quickly remedy the situation while they reported the site’s being hijacked.
The customer realized the importance of website security software, appreciated the swift resolution of the situation, respected my actions to defuse their collective embarrassment, and – for obvious reasons – we had to call it a day.
Don’t underestimate the relevance and value of your professionalism during unforeseen circumstances. Even during those horror story sales situations.
Have any sales horror stories to share?