Has the recession turned us all into salesmen?

24 Aug

Do you ever get the feeling like you are living in an unreal world where nothing is as it ever was?  If you do, you’re not alone!

Lately, more than ever, I feel like I must be walking around with a big “prospect” sign on my back because it seems like everyone I encounter tries to sell me something. Ok, that’s not quite true – I have good friends and family members who are consistent and true – but everyone else seems bent and determined to turn me into a sale.  I can understand how this backwards economy has turned most people’s sanity on its head with layoffs, foreclosures, get rich quick schemes, and MLM’s everywhere (Multi-Level-Marketing), but really, isn’t there a such thing as basic common respect and decency anymore?

If you are like me, you’re getting pitches from every side – email invitations to events (disguised as business mixers but actually pitchfests), personal invites (aka Amway style parties), mail invites (some actually on fancy stationery!), and phone calls.  Whether it is the newest Donald Trump pre-launch parties or mastermind groups or heavy handed pressure to attend self-improvement or coaching workshops , I for one am getting tired of being a prospect.  What happened to business networking events where everyone simply exchanges business cards over a beverage, and heavy handed salesmanship is less pronounced?

In the rush for leads and prospects, it seems that common courtesy and respect have gone out the window.  No longer is a thank you for attending an “event” a given, it is taken for granted that the attendee is so daft as to miss the sales pretense and mistakes the event for a social opportunity to mingle socially with the host.  I’ve been invited to a number of  “exclusive” launches and been hard pressed to give up my hard earned dollars because of the incredible opportunity. Once the foray of telemarketers and vacation timeshare pitches, now I find that some colleagues and acquaintances have succumbed to the allure of enrolling everyone they know in the latest and greatest “whatever” that by selling it to you, are convinced that aside from the money in their pocket (the primary purpose) it will also change your life forever.

I have to admit that I succumbed lately to a major pitch – I attended a self-discovery 3.5 day intensive seminar (which will remain unnamed) – from which I received some major benefits in exchange for my investment. That was all good. Except even before I left the forum seminar, the pitches and pressurized sales started again.  Again I succumbed (it really sounded good) and I then attended the advanced workshop – within a month of the original session (for an additional hundreds of dollars cost).  OMG! After putting myself through yet another grueling intensive 3.5 days (from which yes, there were benefits), I also endured out-of-seminar humiliation and verbal challenges of my integrity all in the name of discovering the possibility of my being.   What was interesting however, was how the salesmanship took a unique turn when a senior member of the staff challenged me as a “resistor” who needed his personal guidance if I wanted to fully benefit from the incredible “once in a lifetime” opportunity presented from the workshop.  It was an interesting sales approach that involved chiding, belittling, and derogatory remarks to enlist me to accept his wisdom and the “program”.  You may or may not be surprised that this salemanship tactic pushed me over the edge so that I am now questioning the entire investment I made – regardless of the benefits I received thus far.  Interesting how one person’s insistence of superiority can change another person from a prospect to a never again sale!

So, what have I learned through all of the sales and “marketing” tactics used on me over the past months?  A few big lessons that I hope will give you some food for thought:

1. YOU are a wonderful human being who is whole, perfect, and complete, with or without taking a particular workshop, program, or keys to the kingdom.

2. It is disrespectful for a salesperson of any name, rank, or serial number, to say anything but “thank you” when you turn down their sale by saying NO.

3. It is our right and our privilege to live without prejudice. One of the most powerful lessons I’ve learned is to walk away from a situation where someone (anyone) purports to know better than you who you are or what is best for you.

4. Even though we can think the best of people, there are those who defy human goodness for a number of human reasons (greed, feelings of superiority, ignorance, etc) – and they simply are the way they are. 

Has the recession turned us into a nation of salesmen?  (Perhaps I am simply noticing it more today than in the past).  I recently saw a quote that said “Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for kindness.” – Seneca.  

Starting with the royal “we” (me and myself), I am committed to friendship, relationship, and appreciating everyone I meet first and foremost. without thinking of what I can sell to them!  Maybe somehow, someway, this can start a trend where we return to be a nation (and a world) of kindness, tolerance, respect, and humanity – before salesmanship.

What’s your experience in today’s world?  Let me know if you agree, disagree or simply don’t care…

Have a great week!


Carol Dekkers, Software Measurement and Global Software Development expert, author, speaker. Want to engage Carol to be a speaker at your next event? Email Ms. Dekkers at dekkers@qualityplustech.com or carol@caroldekkers.com or visit http://www.caroldekkers.com for details.


Read Carol Dekkers’ other blog (Musings about Software Development) at http://caroldekkers.blogspot.com.

——Copyright 2009 Carol Dekkers – All Rights Reserved ———————

One Response to “Has the recession turned us all into salesmen?”

  1. Scott A Dennison Monday, August 24, 2009 at 11:22 am #

    Carol – this is a really thoughtful article and strikes the nail on the head. Yes unfortunately with incomes being rather flat – but the cost of everything going up, more and more people are investing their time in joining a part-time venture instead of taking the second job. (“they just need the extra money”)

    However, these folks, by and large are not trained to be professional sales people, AND their being mentored on what to do by others who know not what to do and the whole lot ends up acting like bad used car sales people. (with apologies to those professionals who sell automobiles for a living)

    What is so often missed is that part time opportunities are plentiful (1000 new MLM companies launched each year), most do not last long, most focused NOT on the distribution of a noble product that benefits everyone who uses it, but instead focused on selling the opportunity (you don’t dare miss THIS one!!)

    Further – instead of running a strong attraction marketing program, that offers those who are exposed to it value for time, and ATTRACTS suitable prospects to it (the opposite of RECRUITING), these folks spend their time prospecting entire lists of friends and family, then misleading them to attend a function, with the intention of recruiting them into the program.

    Their frustration at the resistance causes them to utilize pressure. More often than not the pressure comes from the upline member who attended to help the new member recruit a few people to their team.

    My filters are set in such a way that if I am approached, I do my best to ignore the approach. I reject the invitations to attend “meetings” where I may get pitched.

    My best advice to your readers is to have your goals firmly established. Know where you are headed, then you can determine if your current plan will take you there.

    If you have need of additional income, make a list of the criteria that make a program acceptable and then go online to find companies that meet those criteria. Finally, seek out a strong leader that you will be willing to follow in such a business.

    If your current plan is working and things are good – tell everyone who approaches you that you’re not currently seeking opportunities and if you choose to in the future, you have a well established set of guidelines to help you select the one that’s right for you.

    However if you attend the meeting, you walk into the lions den and are subject to being bitten by the hungry lion…


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