I’m sitting in a doctor’s office watching a couple of guys running over their sales script for when they get in to see the doc. One is the manager. He looks road weary and somewhat worse for wear. A road dog, that one.
His young charge looks fresh but shaky. He has on one of those impossibly tight suits they’re wearing these days, which means you can’t button the jacket, complete with a John Dillinger haircut. Buttoning the top button of his fitted shirt has produced a bulging blue vein on his temple. He fidgets as his boss whispers words of encouragement. Taken as veiled threats by his liege.
The doc, the target of all this pre-call planning, walks out into the waiting room. He only has a minute, so he tells them to start talking. The kid holds up the sales piece and gives the factory approved speech in his best monotone. He’s trying to cover all the bases because he’s actually pitching to two people. In probably the longest 45 seconds the doc has had to endure since the last rep, he smiles, takes the sales piece and begs off.
Not before he looks over at me and rolls his eyes apologetically. Seen that look before.
Once the doc re-enters his battlefield, the manager slaps his grasshopper on the back and says, “That’s the way ya do it.” I quickly look down at my phone.
Then I think about all the times I had to do that sort of thing. I remember hitting the field without the required coat of vanilla most reps get shellacked with. No formal training. No business experience. No degree. No fear. I was too dumb to know what I had gotten myself into.
So I rolled my own. I brought every skill and fancy to the show. I told jokes, I flirted contagiously. Secretaries swooned under a barrage of compliments. I upstaged waiting rooms, I wined and dined maintenance people. I couldn’t tell a surgeon from a fry cook. The world was my target.
Dupont, what have ye wrought? What happened to better things, for better living? Oh, that was GE. I came right off the dock. I was their own private kamikaze. They needed warm bodies in those days but they forgot to take my temperature.
Then the calls started coming in, glowing, most of them, but with some concern. Ginny Standiford, a radiology manager, is quoted as saying, “Tell him to stop boinking my technologists.” I went at the job the way I thought it was supposed to be gotten at. There was nothing I wouldn’t do to get at a decision maker, an economic buyer, a coach, or the next victim.
On one of my last sales call in Las Vegas, I was sitting in a rep heavy waiting room when the director of the department motioned for me to come in first. In front of the other reps who were clearly there ahead of me.
I asked why I was there ahead of the other beggars. He said “Man those guys make me tired. You make me laugh, you f’real.”
Yep, I was a legend in my own mind…..and a nightmare in everyone else’s.