Stationery Stand Sellers Sadly Show Skill Shortfall

Here’s a coffee break delight I found which includes details on how office supply salespeople pitch their product at a leading trade show.

It’s tricky to think of a quota-busting rep that genuinely wants to man such a stand. Yet they all want the leads. So long as they’re properly qualified.

Exhibit A.

“Two stalls along is a more innovative product: a tiny writing device called a Jackpen, which connects to the headphone socket of a mobile phone.

“They use German ink!” says one of the men on the stall.

What’s good about German ink?

“Well German ink simply lasts longer. It’s like anything German, it’s just better, isn’t it?” 

Well well. The good old lead-with-a-feature routine.

Exhibit B.

“At the Snopake stand I meet retail sales manager Mark Wallace. One of the displays contains sticky notes, gluesticks and correction fluid. What we seem to have here, I say to Mark, are Post-its, Pritt Stick and Tipp-Ex. Why are Snopake products a better buy?

“Well,” he says with admirable candour, “in some cases we’re not! But you raise a pertinent point. You pointed to this [gesticulates towards what is basically some Tipp-Ex] and said ‘Tipp-Ex’. The Snopake brand was actually out before Tipp-Ex. Tipp-Ex have just done a fantastic job marketing it over the years, and we didn’t.”

A British, family-owned company, Snopake apparently dates back to 1955.

Did you invent Post-its and Pritt Stick as well? “Far from it,” he laughs, and I laugh, and off I go in search of some more modern innovation.”

Well well well. The old we’re-the-same-as-them-but-better routine. Or in this case, perhaps not even.

I realise that these snippets may not be truly representative of each seller’s skill. And may be printed wildly out of context. After all, the journalist responsible does generally revel in a fine line of irreverence. But still.

If you answer these most basic of questions in a similar fashion, please change.

Sanity check at once:

  • are you lamely leading with features?
  • do you truly know why your products are ‘a better buy’?

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