Saturday, February 28, 2009

Sales Support

I don't know if you've heard, but the economy? It's not so good right now.

"I got the email," a man said after shaking my hand. I nodded at him - I received the same message and was ordered to set up the meeting to regroup. "And I read the 'extreme urgency' and 'all hands on deck!' So I got up out of my chair and ran around my desk a couple of times to show that I was a team player." He smiled at me when I giggled. "Then I sat back down and wondered why we all had to panic and not just some of us."

"We may lose the deal," I replied simply and laughed again when he got up to run around his chair at the table. In addition to earning my immediate affection, he added a bit of levity to what has become my professional life of late.

We make a product. It's expensive and when people buy it, everyone is happy. We focus on enhancing it so you can purchase a lovely upgrade. So everyone's making money and we all like that. It turns out that when people stop buying our products, we get very tense and worry that our strategy might not be optimized. This leads us to - very occasionally - flip out and demand that everyone scamper around their desks in panic and dismay.

Our sales force, surprisingly enough, isn't particularly happy either. Deals are few and challenging. And, in their irritation and without many commissions to spend, they turn to us and note that it sure would help the business if we showed up. So fly out east for a day! Wait, two days. Well, since you're here, maybe 3 days. Stay the week!

Oh, and could you call this guy? He won't answer - he's very busy. Just keep calling. Perhaps twice a day. Three or four times, max. And tell him what he wants to hear!

You're coming out west? Then it makes sense to come a couple hours north while you're on the coast, right? For a day. Then isn't Nevada on the way back? And it's not that far from Arizona, considering. You could stop in Texas! Texas is awesome! But this is all rather complicated so you should organize it all yourself.

I feel like recording a message that says, "Thank you for your request. Unless you have a deal we have a chance in hell of winning, please hang up and know that I'm sorry your life is hard. If you've remained on the line with a customer who has money and interest, please ask yourself the following two questions. Do I have money to pay for Katie's travel costs? If not, please hang up, look for said money and try again. If you've remained on the line, please have your credit card and billing information ready. As you look for your credit card, please ask yourself - Do I have time and energy to coordinate any and all meetings so that Katie just has to arrive at the airport - per your purchase of a plane ticket - and await transportation to locations and people you have arranged? If not, I'm afraid I can't support your request at this time."

Here's the problem, I want to say. We work with certain customers very closely and that continues to be a priority. We have a responsibility to continue development because while it feels like the sky is falling, we do plan to be in business when the economy rebounds and want to launch new products. So we need to continue working on these projects, even when you think our attention is better placed elsewhere.

I like meeting customers - it is useful and challenging. I don't mind travel - I don't love it, but I'm learning to tolerate it a bit more gracefully. I'd hoped to limit my need to rise at 4AM to take off my shoes and sweater at the security check point, but it hasn't worked. (My going rate, by the way, is around $500/day for travel costs. Crap, I told myself yesterday when more email arrived, I really do sell myself for the company.)

Today I napped as laundry sloshed through water and tumbled dry. I ended up in my car Friday morning and glanced down to see a beige bra and bare belly between the edges of a soft, gray sweater. I blinked a couple of times and wondered why I wasn't wearing a shirt, shrugged and came inside to tug one on. I somehow think that no matter how awesome my presentations are, I should be rested enough to remember to put on clothes.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

laundry sloshed through water

Laundry does not slosh "through" water. Laundry sloshes "around in" water.

Psych Post Doc said...

Wow, good thing you looked down.

Citronella said...

It's like the dream where you show up to school/work naked/with no pants on.

Except that it's not a dream.

Well at least it's not the dream where you keep free falling until you crash onto the ground that's turned true. Not literally at least...

rented life said...

Then again, maybe a sales meeting could go better without the shirt?

My laundry might slosh through water just to make people mad :)

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