Integrity in Sales is like Pumpkin Bread

I can still see my kids gathered around the table. The youngest is 1 and just starting to eat the same dinner as the rest of us. The oldest is 8. All 4 have the same grim expression as I do. They stare down at their plates, poking at the meat with their forks silently. I am a new stay-at-home dad and I just spent 4 hours in the kitchen trying to create rosemary apple pork loin. It looked so easy for the lady at the sample table in the grocery store. Heck, she whipped it up in minutes on a portable skillet! Why not me?
I take the first bite and begin to chew slowly. The kids watch for a moment, then take that as their cue to do the same. They glance around at each other as the distinct texture of car tires sets in, their teeth rebounding off every attempt to chew. The taste is something like Kingsford meets the cliffs of Dover. A minute later, everyone is still chewing, except for the 1-year-old, who pulled his meat out of his mouth, looked at it like a science specimen, and then flung it on the floor. The dog jumped up, sniffed it and walked away. Not even an instinctual carnivore recognized it as food.
It took me almost 6 months to become a decent cook. By the end of a year, I could pull a dinner out of thin air with a seeming empty pantry. I never measured anything, just threw it what felt right and could have the family asking for seconds. So it was that my family came to love Daddy’s stuffed French toast, pumpkin spice bread, candied pecans, home-made pizza, linguine with homemade clam sauce and “Ziti-A-La-Daddy.” I can still hold my own in a kitchen.
It took time, but my family learned that they could count on me to deliver a good meal every night. Instead of poking at their food with plans of eating a bowl of cereal later or hoping to God that I would take them out for dinner, they dropped into their seats every night with anticipation and confidence in what would land on their plates.
My kids learned to count on me, just as my customers would learn to count on me years later as I would step in front of the camera day after day, thousands of times to show products to America.
Integrity in delivering great products is serious business. Not every product has to be bullet-proof, but you must manage people’s expectations. Too many people have given direct response a bad name by claiming that products will do what they will not. Products must replicate in people’s homes what they do in the studio. Demonstrations that show amazing things are important to grab people’s attention. However, given the same circumstances, the product should be able to replicate that demonstration with just as much wow factor. Don’t misunderstand me. This does not mean you have to personally love every product you sell. I certainly haven’t. But just because I don’t like lima beans doesn’t mean everyone feels the same. Stores stock those nasty little cans, so someone must be buying them! I’ve sold items that I never would have bought for my own home, yet they flew out the door. People went online and wrote stellar reviews and called into the live show to sing praises. Just because it is not my cup of tea, doesn’t mean it is a bad product.
The point is that I did not claim the product was something that it wasn’t and my customer (like my kids) learned to count on me. They knew that when Cory brought them something, it would do what I said it would do. I delivered on my claims every time. In essence, my cooking would fill their bellies and have them asking for another serving! Integrity in sales hinges on managing expectations. You don’t have to deliver the highest quality, best built, most value-rich offer. You simply have to deliver a product that does what you say it does to keep your customer happy, believing in you and coming back!
Gotta go. It’s November and my kids are asking for Daddy’s pumpkin bread!

by Cory Bergeron
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