A few years ago we ran a contest looking for those embarrassing or funny phone experiences we love to share–or perhaps keep to ourselves. I had some requests to share it again for those that didn’t see it.
We had 59 entries (see them all in the Comments below) and the winner received an OfficeRunner Wireless Headset System from Sennheiser, provided by Headsets.com. (I have one of these myself and I can tell you that it rocks!)
We narrowed the choices down to eight, which was not easy, and our judges were torn about leaving out some really deserving stories. In fact, most of them could have made the finals. Some of my personal favorites were a few of the R-rated submissions that did not make the cut, as my judges reminded me it was not a “dirtiest” story contest. Thank you to everyone who participated. Many of these stories will be circulated for a long time.
Voting was open for a week with the winner chosen by our readers. Here are the winners:
1st Place: (5. below) Three-Way With the Supervisor- 40.5% of the votes
2nd Place: (3. below) 3. Billions of Organisms– 17.7% of the votes
1. Coffee Spill on Private Parts
I was leaving a message for a client last year, while leaning back in my chair and balancing a hot cup of coffee on my stomach. As I reached over to grab my notes, my HOT coffee spilled all over a. . . certain part of my body that doesn’t feel really great when a hot beverage lands on it. I yelled one of the seven dirty words at the top of my lungs, which went right into the client’s voice mail. I hung up, called back, got voice mail again, explained what happened and offered a sincere, heartfelt apology.
I walked down the hall to let my CEO know what happened, so he wouldn’t be surprised when he got a complaint call back from the client. Expecting him to unload both barrels on me, he instead began laughing so hard, I thought he was going to burst a blood vessel. It turns out he knew the client for many years, and called him up himself to offer an apology. When the client called the CEO back, they both had a good laugh about it, we actually wound up making a sale(!), and I got my commission.
At the next sales meeting the CEO told everyone the story, (which got a huge laugh and round of applause), and asked me if I could spill hot drinks on myself more often.
2. Bathroom Stall Phone Conversation
From Dan Dobson
So I am sitting on the toilet in a rest room stall at BWI minding my own business (excuse pun) when this guy in the booth next door says “How ya doing?” I was a little taken a back but being a 40 year sales veteran, I am not shy about meeting new people so I said ” Great how about you?” he says ” I have had a rough day and really need a drink” Well by this time I am thinking this guy might be batting for the other team so I said ” well there are plenty of bars around” and he said “thanks” and I said “don’t mention it”. When he then said something totally inappropriate to the strain of the conversation it dawned on me that this guy was talking to his wife or someone on his cell phone and I was answering what he was saying to her and it happened to coincide for a short period as far as timing was concerned with his phone conversation. I obviously extended my stay in the stall well beyond him leaving and being as far away from the rest room as time would allow. You talk about being embarrassed.
3. Billions of Organisms
From Bob Willis
While working for a national chemical company as a tele-sales representative I had my best encounter to date. Our division was the B2B telephone only. Scripting, coaching and constant training made this company a national leader within the chemical industry. Stick to the script and you will be OK.
I had just closed a sale with a female client and was going for the “add on”. The chemical I choose to present was an Enzyme based product that digests the source of an odor. The script was clearly written, “Each bottle contains billions of organisms that will digest the source of the odor…”
Well you guessed it. Feeling exuberant over the sale I had just made I began my add-on presentation. Not able to pull the script up fast enough I decided to wing it. I carefully thought about what was going to come out of my mouth NEXT while not paying attention to what was actually coming out. I proceeded to tell this woman “each bottle contains billions of orgasms …” Oooops! I quickly corrected my mistake–organisms– and just kept right on going pretending she did not hear and I did not say what I DID just say.
She continued to laugh as I went for the close. Wondering aloud how she could possibly pass on a billion orgasms, she bought the add on. I never did follow up to ensure it was performing as promised. I suppose she is still at work enjoying her bottle and laughing at me.
4. No Juan Home
From Gary Berwald
I was calling on a potential client who had requested information from our 800 number. The man’s name was obviously Spanish and not one I was familiar with so I asked for him by his first name, Juan. The lady who answered just replied, “I’m sorry, no Juan home.”
5. Three-Way With the Supervisor
From Debbi Bressler
The funniest sales call I’ve ever been involved with took place over ten years ago, but I’ve never forgotten it!I oversaw a group of inside sales professionals and had recently started working with a delightful, very religious, straightlaced gentleman named Jon.
Jon had spoken to a prospect named Janelle earlier in the day and had set up a follow up call for us later that day, so I could answer some technical questions for her. Unfortunately, she didn’t answer the phone and instead we got this voice mail message:
(With sultry music playing in the background) “Hi, you’ve reached Mistress Divine. I’m tied up with a client right now, but I’m really eager to take care of you when I return. If you just can’t wait, call Mistress Beatrice at xxx-xxxx and she can also service you. And, don’t worry, she’s just as wild as I am!” Beep.
At which point Jon says, “er, Janelle, Miss Divine, this is Jon XXXXX, calling you back like I promised. I hope you didn’t forget that we had an appointment for a three-way with my supervisor, Debbi.”
SILENCE. WORDS SINK IN…
“Oh, oh, no, Janelle. I didn’t mean a three way like a three way. I meant the three of us were going to get on a call and get your questions answered. Oh my. Please, please just…oh gosh, please just don’t even call me back. Oh, my. And please erase this message.”
At this point, I am literally on the floor with tears streaming down my face, with the phone on mute so my gales of laughter do not pick up on this woman’s voice mail. Poor guy couldn’t face me for over a week!
6. Talking With His Mouth Full
I am currently a sales manager , selling building supplies to contractors. I started with the company when I was just 19 as a “rookie” telesales representative. This is one of the classic moments in my career that gets laughs from co-workers to this day. It may be considered R rated so I’ll warn the sensitive people ahead of time.
I was calling on an existing customer in Kentucky ( we’re not in the South but sell across the country) , I was pretty familiar with the contractor but still developing the relationship. The customer was always very polite and normally a true southern gentleman so you will understand how taken aback I was , when in a very polite and Southern manner he answered and he said ( or should I say I heard) “You’ll have to excuse me for a moment Jane, I have a piece of ass in my mouth”. He put me on hold for a moment and I was dumbfounded and thought maybe I should call back at a more convenient time. When he got back I asked him to repeat himself and realized , with his Kentucky accent he was saying that he had “ICE” in his mouth…( Say it to yourself in a Southern accent– “Ice” “Ice”, you’ll see what I mean ) LOL. I’m glad I didn’t give him a “piece of my mind” for being crude.
7. Always Get a Name
From Rob Sinclair
I recently started a new freelance project calling CEO´s for a Business Development Summit taking place in Africa, I was actually calling “on behalf of” an African Country Government . I have recently moved to France and happened to call a major French company. My research had come up blank for the CEO name but I decided to call the only name at the bottom of their web page and ask for the CEO name.
When I called and in my best French accent asked to be put through to “Melanie Fontaine” – I was asked in a very dry superior voice “Monsieur wishes to speak to the street on which our office is based ?” I carried on regardless and got the name I needed and during that day I must have told 20 prospects the story, I have not laughed so much for a long time.
8. THAT’S a Speakerphone
From Dan Seidman
While on a sales call at a large NY-based insurance company, the prospect became very defensive. We were pitching a 12 million-dollar outsourcing program and Tony, the buyer, couldn’t seem to pull the trigger and decide whether he would let us work with his company.
My selling partner and I asked to use a phone to call our headquarters for some direction. The administrator let us into the unoccupied, expensively-equipped videoconference room and led us to a speakerphone. While on the call with HQ, our sales manager got heated and his language became less than professional and quite loud. He finished by blasting out something to the effect of “Screw Tony, he doesn’t have a clue.”
So we ended the call with our new marching orders. As we hung up the phone, a pleasant voice came over the loudspeaker in the room letting us know that the entire call had been broadcast over the intercom system within the building.
Time froze. We were numb.
As we zombied down the hall, Tony turned the corner. He wasn’t aware of the broadcast as he was in a meeting during the call. We exchanged pleasantries and got out of the building as soon as we could. Needless to say, we didn’t get the deal. Tony heard what happened as soon as we left. Would it be a surprise that he’s never returned another call?
If you have your own that you’d like to share, please do! Add it to the comments section below.