Money for nothin’
I remember the day this shot from a National Sales Meeting went up on all the screens on the Billerica campus. Ice carving? Mass. outrage. While the working stiffs on site had to count paper clips, sales pukes like me were wearing nice suits, drove a new car every two years and told jokes over expensive dinners.
Having been on both sides of that unfortunate equation, I could sympathize. What folks never saw, was the deadly, fawning, fickle, needy customer base who knew how to work the system. They had been at it for years. And we helped.
It would not be unusual to be asked for theater tickets, baseball, basketball, hockey, golf and country club admissions. I have been asked for scholarship money, condo fees and my hand in marriage. The demand for computers, software, screens, books, lunches, lights, projectors and funding for medical illustrations were a daily occurrence.
The stress of dealing with some of the docs was incredible. My biggest fear was having them ask me a question so I could blow my near zero technical credibility. I was relieved when Mike Komosinski told me, “Don’t worry about it, they never ask questions.” I queried, “How so?” “They already know everything.”
I had a cardiologist tell me once when I was a new rep, “Bobby, I don’t care if this shit cures cancer, if I don’t make money off it, I ain’t using it.” First wake-up call.
When I.V. Persantine, a pharmacological stress agent first came out, a big account called me and asked me to come over for their first time product use. I thought I was just going to witness the infusion, so I did what any sales rep would do, bought doughnuts. But no, they wanted me to orchestrate the procedure. OMG! If I hadn’t kept my eye on the protocol poster I had given them previously, I would have gone up for murder.
I called my boss Sully later from under my bed and asked if I was covered for malpractice.
The point I’m trying to make here is, it looks like an enviable position to be in, but nothing could be further from the truth. I never held a position before or after my 13 year stint in sales, that carried that much stress. And every year the nut went up. Every year you had to get more creative. Or be discovered.
Did I skirt the law? Big time. Did I sit in my car in my garage in my underwear with the engine running telling my boss I was in Tucson? Guilty! Did I wake up in a hospital administrator’s house with a freshly signed contract? Guilty! Did I submit for cash expenses that ended up being tucked in some stripper’s garter belt? Wicked guilty! But I brought home the proverbial bacon.
So in the scheme of things was an ice carving such a big deal? Not compared to what it costs to land the big fish. It was just the cost of doing business in the good old U.S.A. When your dealing with human beings, all bets are off.
It was sometimes a dirty business, but someone had to do it. 🙂