(For the purposes of integrity and fairness, this real life example of a red flag-waving salesperson is going to unfold without disclosing real names.)
Red flags have been warning people for centuries of the possible dangers and pitfalls of what is to come — both physically and mentally. The earliest recorded mention dates back to the dawn of the seventeenth century, when military ships would indicate that they were preparing for battle, which had been recorded in the stage play, Satiromastix, by Thomas Dekker, whose character Tucca cries out: “Tis too late: thou seest my red flag is hung out”.
In the following century red flags had started to be used in England as flood warnings, alerting people to the dangers of high levels of water and river overflows. Then later, the blood-like flag was appropriated by the railway networks to be used as a warning to train conductors to immediately stop.
Perhaps this is enough deep diving into the background of the ominous red flag. So let’s jump out of history and dive forward into the present.
It was a clear-sky kind of day. After a sip of coffee and a glance out of the kitchen window (down onto the urban maze below) UV was contacted by a salesman, who got in touch about the possibility of working together — he got requests for consultants that work with a technology that UV is well known for. But Mr Salesman first wanted to meet and touch base before recommending us.
A meeting was scheduled.
Days later, the phone rings… and instead of being met by Mr Salesman, one of his colleagues was on the other side of the call. RED FLAG #1. If you’re going to arrange a meeting about future collaboration, partnerships, and recommendations, don’t hand the phone over to another person who has not been introduced to you. We’re all aware of the absolute influence of first impressions, and top dev and tech consultancies foster good partnerships from the beginning, not only by being honest and transparent (this should go without saying) but by building shared values.
Then his first words on the call was: “How ya doing?” RED FLAG #2. Ok, so informalities are not necessarily negative but after the first flag, and the surprise of being on a call with someone we’ve never met before, one would have expected him to begin with a bang, with a spark of energy and engineer respect and decorum.
Then we mentioned something off topic to him and he took the topic and drove down that conversation… quite a long way. RED FLAG #3. On an initial call, straying too far away from topic risks losing sight of the purpose of the entire conversation, and feels like you’re pretending to cozy up and become our best friend. That’s not to say that digressing into more personal topics should be avoided, but you need to be able to feel the movement of the conversation and remain attentive to how the other person is perceiving the conversation. Talking in these settings is an art. Some people can just do it; others need preparation and practice; and others simply should hand over the phone to someone else.
Moving with the call, a few minutes later, without even mentioning UV, or being able to recall a single fact or piece of information about UV, he steamrolled right over the personal topic of conversation and into his sales pitch: “So, what you might be interested in is a bulk product that we offer. Something that consultancies like you loving buying from us”. RED FLAG #4. Zero research on the company was carried out. Not asking one question about the company and which tech we use. Just a simple attempt at making a sale.
This particular salesman would have been in serious risk of winning third prize from Blake’s sales contest for the month. Like a desperate Shelly character pleading for good leads to end his dry spell.
UV doesn’t just work with anyone. Our strategy is to first build relationships. Get to know each other. Discover what motivates each other, and how we can meaningfully work together.