Sales Management War Story

As all of you know, Monday in this blog, is sales management 101, 204, 306 and advanced situation day. I decided that Tuesday should be Sales Management War Story Day. If you have some classics that need to be told feel free commenting. Obviously, all names will be kept anonymous.

This falls under the category of stupid and naive but harmless. Twenty some years ago I was a new, young, raw and zealous sales manager. The location for this gaffe came in New Orleans, one of the absolutely best places for a convention at least back in the day. Before we arrived in The Big Easy I told all the sales people in the company (10) that I would host a dinner for their best customers, some of whom happened to be fairly well known Cardiologists from around the country. We made reservations at Commanders Palace for 30 docs, myself and 5 salespeople. The top ranking suits in the company were off doing their own thing.

This was the first time I had actually hosted one of these gigs. It should come as no surprise that doctors like to eat and drink well. And at the time more than a few of these characters enjoyed tobacco. We were working on some appetizers and mixed drinks when the wine steward offered the wine list to me. Holy merlot, bat man, what do I do now? My wife and I were still doing screw top wines at the time so when I saw the wine tome I practically sweat through my shirt. Well, two docs down on my right was a gentleman who grew up in Napa Valley. I almost hugged this guy when he offered to order for the table.

The bottles (very plural) were ordered, the meal was served, the cigars lit up and the desserts consumed. Everyone was happy and then the bill came-to me. Of course, I was the host!  The bill was $4,729. Talk about acid reflux! (In case you’re wondering that’s $131 apiece.) I gave my credit card to our waiter. A few minutes later he came back and whispered in my ear, “Sir, your card was declined”.  I’m thinking, there goes forty-seven hundred dollars worth of rapport building!

The long and short of it was that my credit card spending limit was well below the 4K spent on dinner. Fortunately, at the table that night was a physician that I was great friends with. As luck would have it he was coming back from making a phone call and he saw me talking to the waiter. I told him the situation and he glady paid for dinner. Several weeks later we cut him a check for dinner. He harassed me about that for more than a few years as did every employee in the company.

The great majority  of my readers (I suspect all of them) are less naive now than I was in 1983 but still some crazy things can happen if you’re not prepared. So, in honor of this horror story, here’s the Final Thought, thanks to one of my tactical officers the United States Army.

The Six P’s: Prior Preparation Prevents Pi– Poor Performance

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