Tuesday 3 April 2012

How not to do sales

I was thinking of buying a couple more UPSes (Uninterriptible Power Supplies), so when Bluepoint called me while I was in the middle of a ploughed field, I wasn't as short with them as usual. I had looked at their web site a few days ago, looking for more of the Mustek UPSes I've bought before, but they only had 400VA models, and I wanted 1400VA at least, maybe even more.

So I told the guy who phoned me, "Yes, I am interested maybe in buying something from you, I want Mustek UPSes, but not the small 400VA ones that you have." He replied, "We have Mustek flat bed scanners."

You probably don't need me to tell you, even if you're not familiar with UPSes, that someone who wants one isn't going to be made happy by a scanner. And I told him so. "Go look up the larger Mustek UPSes, and let me know what you find."

He didn't call back. I don't know why. But next time he calls me, I won't be much interested in talking to him, because even when I tell him exactly what I want, he doesn't bother to sell it to me. He might, for instance, have offered me a different brand of UPS with a similar capacity and price to what I wanted. But he didn't.

So I phoned up Janine at Bluepoint (and if they ever lose Janine, they're in big trouble, because as far as I can see, she's the only person there worth talking to). She said they don't do Mustek now because they can't buy less than a pallet load. Well, OK, fair enough. But they do sell BPC (British Power Conversion), she said. But on the Bluepoint web site, they only offer small ones, up to 1000 VA.

So, still interested, I went to the BPC web site. No pricing. So I phoned up BPC and explained my interest. They said "Bluepoint" but I told them that Bluepoint only have their smaller stuff. So they said "But if you ask Bluepoint, they can get you the bigger ones" Duh. So why don't they put those on their web site? He also said "Fairline sell BPC stuff", but he didn't have their details. Google to the rescue, so I went on the Fairline, and yes, they do sell BPC stuff, but there's no info about range or pricing.

I got a bit shirty with the guy from BPC at that point. I explained to him that they aren't exactly making it easy for me to buy their stuff; I'd have to register with Fairline to find out more (which I've applied for, heaven knows how long that might take), and ...


If you want to sell stuff, don't make it difficult for your customers. Tell me what you have to sell, give me the technical specs so I can choose the right thing, tell me the pricing so I can think about the tradeoffs and compare with other products, and then let me order it.

Do NOT make me phone you to find out important information; I might be doing this outside your working hours. Do NOT make me jump through registration hoops in order to access a part of your web site with this information. Do NOT get in my way when I'm trying to give you an order.

I'll probably end up buying a Trust 1500 VA UPS; at least I can find out the price.

Here's some advice, if you're offering any kind of goods or services. Pretend to be an ordinary member of the public, and see how difficult it is to buy something from your company. If the answer isn't "dead easy" then kick arses until it is.


  1. Later ...

    Bluepoint out up pricing on BPC UPSes. The 1200 is about twice the price of a Trust unit with a slightly larger VA rating.

    Once again we learn the lesson that when a web site doesn't show it's prices, it's often because they have a good reason not to show them.

    And by the way, here's another piece of advice - don't ever buy anything from a website that doesn't give a contact phone number.

    1. Later later.

      BPC said they were going to send me an email with pricing. Didn't happen.

      I signed up for Fairline, but I haven't heard back from them either.

      I'm certainly not going to chase after BPC or Fairline in an effort to buy from them - if their service is this bad when I'm trying to spend money with them, imagine how bad it'll be if I need to sort out any problem later!

      If you've been wondering why some companies don't succeed, this has to be one of the main factors - ignoring people who want to buy things from you.