As I try to figure out what I want to do with this blog, and at the same time keep in the habit of writing, my hope is that I’ll develop both a style of writing and an idea of what type of content I like to write and others like to read. Let’s see how this goes.
I’m in the twentieth year of my sales career. I have a great job, I’m lucky to have it, but I’m not exactly sure how or why I got here. I graduated in 1998 from Bloomsburg University with a Bachelor of Science in Business Management, or a BS in BM. Now, if you think about it, BS and BM can stand for something else, which is eerily appropriate for what I do for a living. My father passed on a saying to me that his father insipidly ingrained in him. You probably have some from your parent’s like “sticks and stones”, or “do unto others”. My grandfather, who passed away before I was born, was fond of a lesser known maxim: “Never bullshit a bullshitter.” Apparently I come from a long line of BS.
After college, I had no idea what I wanted to do. Sales offered an alternative to the cubicle farm, and in my mind, I would experience different industries and different functions within companies that I sold to. My plan was get to know a variety of jobs and fields, with the hope I may eventually find my calling. I still am of the opinion that course was wisely planned, almost 20 years later.
The Sales Meeting
In general, Sales theory dictates that the more time you spend, as the Japanese say, “belly to belly”, or in direct contact with your customers, the better results you will produce. So, in theory, the Sales Professional should be spending as much time as possible out in the field, selling their product or service. Simple. However, sometimes there are things that need to get done that require pulling the sales people out of their territories and into a central location, for a meeting. Examples would be new product launches, developmental skills training, and sometimes in companies unlike the one I work for, stuff that lets just say, wouldn’t exactly pass Grandpa’s sniff test.
And so, off I went Wednesday afternoon from a meeting with a potential client in New Haven, CT to our Regional Sales Meeting in Waltham, MA.
Traffic wasn’t all that bad, especially considering the proximity to Boston and rush hour dinner meeting start time of 6:30. Our team of reps from the Northeast Region was hosted by the Regional Manager, and joined by the Region Clinical Specialist and the Area Vice President a few exits from Waltham at a restaurant for dinner. It was great, I work with truly phenomenal people. One of the great things about these meetings is that typically Sales people are fun to hang out with. I’ve never been to an Accounting meeting, an IT meeting, or any other business unit for that matter, but I doubt they are as fun. I hear Legal Compliance is rowdy, and from what I know from the stories I have heard, I’ll stick with Sales at this stage in my life.
The meeting was great but tiring. We honed our skills, shared ideas, and strategized over our difficulties. In all, it was very productive. If I nitpick one thing, and it something that I’ve never liked, it’s forecasting. At some point in my life, I would like to submit the one forecast I truly know to be at least 1000 times more accurate than any of the hundreds I have turned in: “I’ll sell as much as I can, which will probably come out to about as much as my customers will buy”. I swear sometimes management thinks I don’t like money. I promise, I’ll always make as much as I can, I’m not here just for the laughs. But budgets need to be set, product needs to be manufactured, and it all relates to what we are going to sell, so we must forecast. The meeting started around 7 am, we finished up around 4pm, and after a long drive home, I was ready for my own bed.
Back to Reality
So after a long day at the meeting Thursday, I was eager to settle back in to my sales calls. Unfortunately, some fires had to be put out, and some follow up phone calls and emails, though productive, kept me in my office longer than I would have liked. However, I did finally escape and got to see one of my favorite customers.
And they were even some of my favorite customers before today, when I showed up hungry after skipping lunch only to be met with offerings of potato chips, a cheese stick, a peanut butter sandwich, and chocolate chip cookie. Life is good some days. I’ve provided many a meal for business meetings, but being fed by the customer is a rare treat.
A few more stops, some time on the phone, and some email wrangling, and I was just in time to get to my son’s day care. Just in time, after a quick ride at nearby West Hartford Reservoir.
It’s a tough job, but, well… sometimes cliches come from truth. I think my grandfather would agree.