Rachel, let me tell you stories about reps
Heard about the guy who showed up in a gorilla suit?
November 21, 2012
A few weeks ago, Media Life posted a survey inviting media planners and buyers to weigh in with their thoughts about sales reps.
The survey was prompted by an email from a reader, a media buyer, complaining that in her view the quality of reps had gone down in recent years. We wanted to know what others thought.
We got quite an earful, to say the least. Yes, they had gotten worse was the consensus.
But as part of the survey, we also asked readers to share their funniest, most outrageous stories about sales reps.
There were some doozies, from the rep who broke into tears to try to seal a deal to the alarmingly large number of radio reps who didn’t even know the call numbers of the station they were selling.
Below I’ve gathered some of my favorite stories, the ones that gave me a good chuckle. I hope they do the same for you.
But first, for all the sales reps who might be reading this and getting hot under the collar, before you shoot off an angry email, let me say that there are also lots of media buyers out there who also come up short. Buyers and planners can be equally frustrating to deal with.
They lack knowledge, grace and manners just as often as sales reps do. No industry is without its weak links, but I’ll revisit sales reps’ gripes in future columns.
In the meantime, these stories are too funny not to share.
“I had a meeting with a newspaper sales rep in a small town, and when I asked her about their web site she told me that she had heard that their site gets ‘lots of hits, or whatever it's called’ and that she doesn't really believe in internet advertising. She then proceeded to spend the next couple of minutes trying to convince me that I'd be better off just buying their newspaper and not buying any ads online because she never clicks on online ads so she can avoid spam emails. And she's the one who sells the web site!”
“I'll never forget the guy that broke into tears and blubbered on about not being able to send his kids to school because his book didn't make the buy.”
“Received by email: An entire presentation deck/plan done for me that was actually for our client's biggest competitor and not our client, complete with rates, etc. We couldn't believe it.”
“I had a rep that called my company by our biggest competitor's name all the way through a pitch — even after I corrected him.”
“Had a sales manager join a radio rep for lunch to drill me about our clients. When he learned we had no additional business to turn his way he actually remarked, 'I can see this was a wasted lunch.' That was 10 years ago. I never forgot it.”
“The rep who showed up in a gorilla suit to see the account supervisor that wouldn't return his calls.”
“A print rep showed up with 'free breakfast.' That breakfast, however, was delivered in an Embassy Suites laundry bag, because the rep loaded up on their free breakfast.”
“A radio sales person who wanted to offer shelf space at a regional grocery chain which he just knew would be perfect for our client. The client? A natural gas utility!”
“I asked a sales rep to assist me with a training project I set up for a new male assistant. He responded to my email by writing, ‘All guys must fantasize about having a teacher like you.’ I called him to respond … it took him a week to hear out of that ear again.”
“Asked a rep what their call letters were and she had to put me on hold to ask someone else. She came back on the line after a few minutes and said she'd have to call me back.”
“I allowed a local rep 10 minutes to pitch me for a Taco Bell buy before reminding him I now worked for a different agency on McDonald's.”
“I had a radio rep once call me to tell me his dog had died and would I place a buy — out of pity!”
“A radio rep, when I told her that no one listens to her station, left my office and returned 15 minutes later with an old man who claimed to listen religiously to her station. I'm sure she found him in some back alley judging from the clothes and smell.”
“I had a sales rep call our media director and ask for a new buyer because I was too hard to negotiate with.”
“One called to see what my budgets were for the next quarter because she was trying to determine what her commission would be, because that is what her income is dependent on.”
“Having a rep pitch their product and then when it was over, I asked them which of my clients they thought would be the best fit to then have the rep state a client that we didn't have.”
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