Human beings are never more vulnerable than when they are down and out. When we are blue, we just want somebody to listen, to feel our pain. Undertakers understand this, and offer $100,000 gilded coffins as solace. Bill Clinton understands this, and by feeling the pain of each and every American, secured two turbulent terms in the Oval Office. The cardinal rule of capitalism is "Where there is pain, there is an opportunity to sell."
But what happens when the tables are turned and the seller is in pain? If you cut a salesman, will he not bleed? Oh yes, friends. Despite all the ugly stereotypes, salespeople need their mommies like everyone else. Considering more than 90 percent of all sales calls end in failure, who could blame them? There are a million tales of sales woe out there, and all of them begin with the word "no."
But help is now at hand. Salesautopsy.com offers salespeople a forum for much-needed catharsis. Part confession booth, part afternoon talk show, this unique Web site invites salespeople to tell "sales horror stories" online, for the world to see. "Now get a good grip on your mouse*you won't find happy salespeople here," reads the site. "Here you will read about disaster-what goes wrong when you sell."
By clicking on a hyperlink that says "Take me right to the horror stories of the week!" you confront sales nightmares. There's the diabetic CEO whose blood sugar seems to inconveniently drop just when he and his sales team are about to clinch the big deal. He either gets woozy and incoherent, or starts eating in the middle of an important sales presentation. Then there's the clever couple that tries to pitch their invention-edible grass for Easter baskets-to the producers of "The Oprah Winfrey Show." They exit the building silently when somebody points out their product's enormous potential for litigation.
Salesautopsy.com invites all sales people to unburden themselves, and share their horror stories-but only after handing over their name and contact information. You see, this clever site is not just a message board or chat room, but a lead generator-an online marketing tool. That's right. Salesautopsy.com is the marketing brainchild of sales training expert Dan Seidman, of Sales Autopsy Inc. in streamwood, Ill. After weepy, beaten-down sales people share their humiliation with the world, representatives from one of Sales Autopsy's offices will contact them to, according to the company logo, "slice you open and analyze what's killing you."
Surely Seidman deserves some kind of marketing award for the "cleverest use of Internet tools in lead procurement." The mind races with the possibilities for his confessional marketing apparatus. Will AOL establish a "Tell us why you hate Earthlink Web site"? Will Ford want to hear why General Motors depresses you? Yes, probably.
So sellers take note: People will pay any price for a chance to bitch and moan. After all, lawyers don't chase ambulances for the fun of it.