In 1990, I went into sales totally unarmed. I had ten years of sobriety under my belt and an “eked by” G.E.D.
I knew nothing about sales, marketing, or business in general. Not enough to hurt me, anyway. 🙂
My lack of business knowledge made me get outside the box forever.
The plan was to last long enough in this position before I was exposed as an incompetent, to be able to use it on my resume for a less challenging position maybe selling Amway.
Little did I know I would come to be a sales leader in my burgeoning territories of Arizona, New Mexico and Las Vegas.
Through grit and street savvy, I made a name for myself that I’m still proud of today.
In sales, sometimes you have to provide more than products and service.
You have to provide things that nobody else is thinking about.
You have to get inside. You have to be listening with a musician’s ear.
When I was selling nuclear medicine for Dupont, and me not being a Rhodes Scholar, I had to really be on my game.
For instance, if I had a meeting with a physician and they told me to wait in their office, that man or woman was gonna get thoroughly investigated.
I would scour the walls looking for clues about what they might be up to, and anything we might have in common. Anything to make that connection.
Like anything. If the kid was a football star, or he had a particular passion, or an award he might have received.
I did not suck at small talk because I could always lift the tone with humor. Carefully.
It was nights, weekends, holidays and nasty weather. The post office had nothing on me.
I had to bail rowdy customers out of jail on more than one occasion. I was also there when the baby arrived and the boyfriend was nowhere to be found.
If a tech got kicked out of the house, he headed straight for mine. That’s just the way it worked.
I was purely a relationship guy, and seeing I didn’t have much technical expertise to put on the table, this was how I ran.
I built a bond you couldn’t break.
In the mid-nineties, the main competition for our Cardiolite imaging product was launching, and by some ridiculous miscalculation, the reimbursement for their drug was at least three times what customers were getting for Cardiolite.
The way the government works, that particular boo-boo had to be in place for a year. Money talks, right?
Now selling a product based just on reimbursement is not totally illegal but you should be selling based on the merits of the product. You could get your hand slapped.
So we were keeping our eye out.
Then, one Saturday morning at a Society of Nuclear Medicine meeting held at Mayo Clinic, a product specialist from Amersham takes the stage in a garish yellow dress and did the unthinkable. She thought she was shitting sherbert.
She was rubbing that miscalculated reimbursement money in everyone’s face. She had her face in the trough and she wasn’t pulling her head up for anyone.
Unfortunately for her, I just got into video and I had a small camera with me. (This was before smartphones)
I got everything. I even made her repeat things. (She didn’t know who I was)
Everybody in the room got a huge kick out of watching this dipshit hang herself.
Back at Dupont, I am a national hero. The company lawyer told me I was doing the Lord’s work.
So they confront the head of legal for Amersham and they apprise him of my handiwork. They even play some of the audio over the speaker phone.
That, set him back apace.
In defense, the other lawyer starts weighing in on me and my specious business tactics. Gulp!
He says, “Well, if you think that’s unfair, who brings food over to a cardiologist’s house and cooks dinner for the family?
Who’s does that? Seriously? That’s not unfair? My rep is just doing her job.
Who teaches customer’s kids how to play guitar? Really, who does that? What does that have to do with nuclear medicine?
Who goes away for the weekend with ten female techs? Unheard of, who does that?
Who goes to the courthouse when a tech is getting a divorce? We don’t do that. Who can compete with that?
Who takes customers to AA meetings? You ever hear of such a thing?
Seriously, who does that?”
Well, I have to plead guilty as charged. I was using the skills I learned banging around the mean streets of Boston back in the day.
Sometimes people make decisions on more than just a package insert.
I thought about all the things he said as I was spending my bonus.
Epilogue: When Cardiolite first launched there was a bailment on it. Because the product was so hearty, you could pull hundreds of doses out of one vial that was supposed be limited to six. The bailment, if they signed it, would have them agree to just the six doses.
That went over like a fart in a space suit. Nobody wanted to sign. New Mexico was laughing us out of their labs.
So I visit the radiopharmacy in Albuquerque with my boss, Bob Sullivan. Things got tense in a heartbeat. I didn’t know what he was going to say and I was bracing. He says to Paul Gotti, if you don’t sign the bailment you don’t get him, pointing to me.
They signed. (My face is still red over that one.)