I just had to depart from the usual Thursday Sales Management Corner. I was having breakfast the other day with a guy I’ve known for ages; we were reminiscing about some of the follies we were a part of as salespeople or sales managers. This is a potpourri of several that deserve honorable mention.
I worked as a pharmaceutical rep in my first job out of the Army. I was travelling in northern Minnesota, having dinner and reading the paper. There happened to be a fairly tall candle in the middle of the table. All of a sudden I smelled smoke and when I looked up the front page of the Minneapolis Trib was burning out of control! I got up, my chair went flying back knocking over a tray of food and I proceeded to stomp out the burning paper. Nobody in the restaurant batted an eye! Gotta love those unflappable Minnesotans.
As a “detail” man we did a lot of waiting to see physicians. I was on one of those butt flattening episodes in a clinic where the heat was hovering at about eighty five degrees. I had one leg crossed over the other knee when I fell asleep and I mean sound asleep. The nurse came out and had to shake me awake to tell me that the doc would see me. My shirt was soaked with drool and my left leg was completely asleep. I got up from the chair, put weight on the leg and fell over. All the pregnant women were practically hysterical! One of the best sales calls I ever had though.
I was on a sales call with a rep and the doctor we were calling on asked a question about a measurement for a part of the heart catheter we were selling. Neither I nor the rep had a clue of the answer but without taking more than a breath the rep said, “About a quarter of a grommet.” (I’m not sure if that was the exact word but the point is it was a nonsense word.) The doctor looked at the rep for a few seconds, I’m about ready to explode and the doc says absolutely nothing. We walked out with business we never had. Honest to God neither of us could make a sales call for the rest of the day.
Then there was the ex Woody Hayes football player, standing 6’5″ and tipping at about 255 lbs. BIG MAN! I was field training him and we were observing a heart catheterization, which means that we were in scrubs wearing a 35lb lead vest to protect the, ah, well you know. The doc incises the leg artery, which means there is a nice arc of very red arterial blood coming out. The HULK takes one look at that and does a perfect, utterly exquisite face plant. If it had been an Olympic competition he would have gotten 10’s from the Communist judges. It took three of us to drag the nimrod out and put him on a gurney. The last I heard was the dental repairs ran about $3K. He never did get a job with us.
Last but far from least. We were in Hawaii for our national sales meeting and it was the awards dinner evening. These award dinners were a combo of recognition ($$$$$) and humor. The event was outside and the awards, skits and stories took place on a huge stage. Unbeknown to us we had an audience of people standing on their balconies of two adjoining hotels. This was not a group of salespeople who shied away from enhancing bizarre, true stories with a little bit of blue humor. We finished up and en-masse our “audience” broke out into applause. They also wanted an encore of the “horrow tube” story, which I gave. Can’t do it here though because it is thoroughly politically incorrect. If you want the story let me know and I’ll pass it along. I will say, however that ss a result of that true story we did sell a lot of catheters overseas.
I had to share this last story because there is a tendency for the all of us to blast companies that spend money on salespeople and incentive/sales meeting trips. As usual, the media does not always tell the whole story. We do have a right to blast companies that spend ridiculous amounts of money on a few high ranking, over paid, corner office types. You can’t blast a company that rewards their best salespeople and spouses by taking them to a lavish resort. These folks earned their money working hard and generating “honest” revenue for themselves and the company.
The Final Thought: “Nothing is better than the unintended humor of reality” Steve Allen