Trashing the competition-why do salespeople do this?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Peter Patentcad, Dec 21, 2002.

  1. Peter Patentcad

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    I am putting this in the receiver section because I recently shopped extensively for a new receiver and experienced this phoenomena during that exercise - salespeople from one high end audio store absolutely trashing any brand they don't carry. This is by no means an exclusive province of audio salesmen - we have a commercial laminating machine from the best name in the business (Seal) and a rep from GBC (a competitor) actually told us we'd NEVER get proper results from our Seal Image 410 laminator, that these units were being returned to Seal in droves. P.S., after tweaking a couple of laminating parameters we're getting stellar results, love the machine and couldn't be happier. The Image 410 is such a good machine that Kinko's recently ordered 250 for its chain of retail copy shops. Will we ever buy GBC laminating products after that episode? Probably not.

    The laminator example is mirrored in the high end audio business where for example Monitor Audio gets utterly bad-mouthed by every dealer I talk to who doesn't carry it. I have the Silver 5i's, 3 year old speakers that were about $800 per pair and they're just outstanding. The reviews M.A. products receive are consistently not just enthusiastic, but usually raves. Whatever. I'm in the market for another pair of front speakers and will probably stick with an upgraded version of what I've loved for three years (the new S8's).

    My point is that bad-mouthing the competition is about the lowest class thing a salesperson can resort to. I was in sales for 8 years. As a Mercedes-Benz sales rep, I NEVER said too many negative things about the competition. MUCH better to praise them and then tell you why your product is even better. I can't tell you what a turn-off it is to hear every salesman trashing the competitors. It gets so incredibly OLD and tired, and frankly it shatters a salesman's credibility with me the instant he or she starts in with this idiotic approach.

    EVERY sales training course or book I ever took or read (and I'd guess that's over a dozen) will tell you that it's better to praise the competition and then build up your product than to say anything negative about anything. It worked for me, I was successful by just about any measure of sales performance. I own my own small business now, but I employ the same philosophy today. If a competitor does things that I think are terrible I'll say something like: 'Acme Co. is a reputable firm and they do fine work. We do things a little differently because we just think it affords you better quality and service in a number of ways.'

    I wound up purchasing a Denon 4802 receiver and I can see why Denon owners are so enthusiastic about their systems. For anybody to bad-mouth a reputable brand like Denon (or Marantz, or anybody really) is just dumb. Ultimately, anything involving audio tends to be very subjective. I actually said this to a sales rep at a high end audio place and he said 'well, no it's not subjective, there are objective criteria to judging speakers.' Really? In other words the flatter the response curve the better? But I LIKE brighter speakers and often crank my treble control up 2-6db. How objective am I being? I'm NOT, and that's the point. I don't care about flat response curves, I like what I like, and all this talk about 'accuracy' and 'transparency' is not what sells me a speaker system. I audition them and buy what sounds good to me. I would guess that ultimately, most of us would agree with that statement. Does anybody buy a speaker based on a graph in Stereo Review?

    I might agree that there is some objectivity to video or visual imagery, but audio strikes me as incredibly subjective. My point being that no matter what the truth, telling customers that the competition sucks is generally only going to make you look like you have a chip on your sorry shoulder. I suppose most of these guys will just never get this, but I wonder how much business it costs them? I'm not buying anything from guys like that.
     
  2. Tim Hoover

    Tim Hoover Screenwriter

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    A big Amen to that! Trashing the competition just reflects poorly on the salesperson.
     
  3. DanaA

    DanaA Screenwriter

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    I was in Good Guys once when the salesperson told me that they carried the finest audio/visual equipment that could be purchased, at any price. [​IMG] She then proceeded to bash all the other stores and the products they sold.
    I don't generally think it costs them business though. I think it is used to make the customer feel insecure about purchasing other products. Most of the buying public is probably relatively uneducated about the products they're buying. Otherwise, a certain speaker company frequently bashed on the boards, wouldn't outsell the competition. It certainly isn't for their quality. A lot of people go in trusting the salesperson as really being kind of an expert of their domain. I know that's not people that frequent places like HTF, but most of us here have had to bite our tongues when overhearing sales people misguiding customers within earshot.
     
  4. Wayne_T

    Wayne_T Stunt Coordinator

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    Chalk it up to inexperience or incompetence or both. Like Peter said, every sales 101 course tells you not to do that.
    Doesn't matter what the product is, people buy things from people. And more importantly, people buy things from people they like. Bad mouthing a competitor usually makes the customer dislike you. Its subtle, perhaps subconscious, but most people will move on.
     
  5. Jim Williams

    Jim Williams Second Unit

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    When I worked in retail Audio/Video sales fifteen years ago, we could be fired for making disparaging remarks about competitors or brands that we did not carry. I guess that is no longer the case.
     

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