Fuck transparency! Sometimes when you “ask for the business,” you “get the business.”
I hate directness. I also hate pain in the name of honesty. Yes, I’m talking to those of you who fancy themselves as brutally honest. You get no points from me. There is always more than one way to skin a cat. You just have to be creative and of course, ballsy.
I call this approach the “bank shot.” Instead of shooting the ball straight into the pocket, I take the indirect route by banking the shot first. Sometimes using numerous banks. Sometimes sinking numerous balls. It adds degrees of difficulty and risk but it is more than worth it. It’s a beautiful thing, when it works.
It was October 25, 1994. I’m sitting in an upscale restaurant in Old Town, Albuquerque, New Mexico. It’s my birthday of all things, and I am sitting with my “Top Ten Techs” All female, all gossipy, all dangerous and tonight, all drunk and seriously beating my Amex Card to death.
They all liked your’s truly and that was a good thing. We had convened to celebrate my 48th and come together as the friends we have been since I took over the territory in 1990.
But all was not well with me on this beautiful fall evening. I just had a major relationship implode on me and my house ransacked while I was traveling by one of Scottsdale’s finest, a tanned, blonde, barracuda named Dana. Did I mention evil? Oh, the pain I was in that night.
So here we are, me and my ten ladies, each a chief tech and each a decision maker who could decide my fate as a Dupont sales rep. They don’t call New Mexico the “Land of Mañana” for nothing. New technology is slow to take root, which put my Cardiolite numbers somewhere down the bottom of their list of priorities.
This was a problem. I had all their thallium business and they thought that would suffice. Besides, if I had done the dry, predictable plea for the business all reps are taught, another honeymoon would have ended.
We all know how business works, mo’money, mo’money and then mo’ money. Albuquerque lived in a vacuum. As I’m sitting there hoping no one can smell my incinerated innards, I’m thinking about the conversation my boss Sully and me had earlier in the week.
He told me Syncor wanted to move me out of the territory because of the zero Cardiolite penetration. He said he put them off, albeit temporarily, but I got the message.
Now, as all the ladies are telling me how much they love me and hope I stay in the territory, I plied my bank shot. Wired up with a belly full of dark chocolate birthday cake and black coffee, I blurt out, “I have an announcement to make.”
I told them that upper management had decided to try someone else in Albuquerque because I had failed to convert the town to Cardiolite. Oh man, pandemonium. Made worse by the fact that I was sober and they weren’t. A huge gamble because news would travel quickly, first to Syncor and then back to my folks in the home office. “Disappearing Dana” just got pushed to the back of my worry list.
It worked! I hardly had to Machiavelli my way around such a volatile move. Within days, and just before the letter writing campaign started, requests for Cardiolite trials started popping up all around the city. All because I took my shot and put a little English on it.
This was the shot I came to bank on. All the way to the bank.
Rack ’em up!