Hardcore, traditional, old-school (old-skool? No), call it what you will, it’s that particular style of selling more transparent than the fake tan glowing on the face of someone who’s way more interested in making money than your wellbeing. Persuasive, fearful and time-consuming, this passive-aggressive not-taking-no-for-an-answer technique was still big in the 80s and 90s, but it's less so now that we’re all much wiser to it.
Or so I thought...
Before I tell you what happened this weekend I want to let you know that I’ve been a door to door salesman. I’ve sold second-hands cars, cable TV, encyclopaedia collections and yes, even double-glazing and conservatories or ‘home improvements’ as we used to call them back in the 1990s. I always smashed my targets but I rarely agreed with the cut-throat methods I was trained to employ. I adapted the good bits to suit my own personality, each situation and my customers, and once I began to understand the real reasons why people made decisions to buy, I moved on.
This weekend however I was transported right back to 1993 when a presentable young man with a big smile and a glossy brochure knocked on my front door and asked if we were in the market for new windows. “We’re in your area,” he told me, immediately activating the bullshit klaxons and flashing red lights in my head, “so we can set up an appointment with our advisor who will survey your property and give you a no-obligation quote”. As it happened my wife and I actually were hunting for quotations on some new windows, so I said: “Yes. Let’s set it up. But I only want a quote. If your advisor is looking for a sale on the day, it’s better they see someone else.”
That clearly meant nothing to the presentable young man, but fair enough. There’s always a chance a good salesperson can persuade you to change your mind. After all, that’s a part of selling.
On the day of the appointment, Saturday, a call comes in from their office. It's 8.25am and I've literally just walked out of the shower. I pick up the phone and this gruff, male voice barks down it: “Mr Laville, are you still good for two o clock this afternoon?”