Don’t tell me it’s out of your control

Heard these before? “It’s out of my control.” “I can’t do anything about it.” “I’m just the sales person.” It’s time to put an end to this sort of nonsense.

Don’t tell me it’s out of your control

Sue Barrett

Sales people who sell in equipment and service contracts take note. This story is about you and your responsibility to the customer for the life of the sale, not just the initial sale of the machine and the signing of the contract.

‘It’s out of my control.’ ‘I can’t do anything about it.’ ‘I’m just the sales person.’

This is what I heard this week from a sales person from a well-known equipment manufacture who sold us a complete equipment and service package 18 months ago. It certainly wasn’t what I wanted to hear. Without going into too much detail, we have had the “printer from hell”.

This piece of machinery has never lived up to the expectations promised by the aforementioned salesperson and has been in repair, on and off, for nearly 18 months. Service person after service person came and went, only bandaiding this issue as it turns out. 

Over time after various discussions with the nice service people, we found we had been sold a specific product type, which had had issues from day one with many people. We looked at getting out of our contract on several occasions. We asked other people in the know and they said we were probably going to be stuck with this contract.

For a while we lived in hope that this was just a glitch and we would be OK. And for a few months it was, however, whenever we did any big print jobs it just kept getting worse. We spoke to the service people and the customer service people who could do nothing. Our issue was never escalated to management. The service people where coming out, on average, nearly every three weeks. It had to be costing them big time too.

Well we finally lost patience. So we recontacted the sales person and told him of our issues. We told him that we had been clearly put under incredible pressure with lost productivity and wasted materials. But did he care? NO.

He had no concern or desire to understand our situation or the cost to our business. His first attempt to “help us” was farcical. He told us there were two ways we could solve the problem:

  1. We could get out the contract by paying $9000, or
  2. We could upgrade to a new machine and sign a new contract with him.

Great! Just great!

When I told him that his suggestions where clearly unacceptable and that we did not trust him he came up with this:

“It’s out of my control.” “I can’t do anything about it.” “I’m just the sales person.”

That finally took the biscuit.

I told him that he was “holding our business hostage” and if he was unprepared to help us I would go to the top. Which I did. And guess what? Action occurred that day and our issue is in the process of being resolved. We have a replacement printer and we are in discussion with management as to where to go from here.

Did that sales person have the authority to do something about this but couldn’t be bothered? Was it out of his power to make any descision?

I don’t know, but what I do know is that it was within his power to take it to management, which he didn’t do.

There are clearly many questions still to be answered and it is not my place to go into that company’s business (well not yet anyway) to assess why this occurred. However, being treated like that by the sales person who did not care one bit about our plight makes me sick.

When you enter into contracts with companies you are engaged with them over a period of time. This type of arrangement usually happens when a business leases equipment – a printer for instance. These companies not only want you to get their machine they also want you to buy the “servicing” of that machine.

In this case what I think the sales person failed to grasp was that this type of relationship is a long-term customer relationship. The sale doesn’t end at the signing of the contract and delivery of the machine. You cannot abdicate your responsibility as a sales person.

And sadly I am sure this not an isolated incident.

That sales person and others like him need to recognise they have a duty of care to that customer and their duty of care only ends when that customer ceases to be a customer.

And by the way, saying “sorry” would have helped too.

Here is an acronym I got from a neat website which this sales person could have benefited from applying:

L.E.A.R.N. is an acronym, with five easy steps to follow:

  • LISTEN – Listen carefully to your customer. Don’t interrupt or tell the customer to calm down, this will only ignite the anger.
  • EMPATHISE – Feel the pain of the customer, and tell her that you can understand how they feel.
  • APOLOGISE – Apologise to the customer, even if you feel that you have no part in the problem. Do not blame the customer, but there is no need to take the blame yourself!
  • REACT – Decide what you will do to resolve the problem, and tell this to the customer.
  • NOW! – Do not delay. Take immediate action! The longer you wait, the harder it is to produce outstanding customer service.

– William H Davidow


Sue Barrett is Managing Director of BARRETT Pty Ltd. Sue is an experienced consultant and trained coach and facilitator. Sue and her team are best known for their work in creating High Performing Sales Teams. Key to their success is working with the whole person and integrating emotional intelligence, skill, knowledge, behaviour, process and strategy via effective training and coaching programs. For more information please go to


For more Sell Like  a Woman blogs, click here.


Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
SmartCompany Plus

Sign in

To connect a sign in method the email must match the one on your SmartCompany Plus account.
Or use your email
Forgot your password?

Want some assistance?

Contact us on: or call the hotline: +61 (03) 8623 9900.