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Honey… Guess What I Did at Work Today

March 2, 2009


Something really bad happens when the word “sales” (or it’s more politically correct sibling “business development”) is added to the job title of an otherwise sane adult: they lose all respect for their own time.

I have known grown men drive hundreds of miles in an Enterprise-Rent-A-Car for a 15 minute cup of coffee with a “prospect”, all in the name of making their weekly quota of face time.  Creative weekly reports may keep you in a job for a month or two but signed purchase orders are generally a more effective way of paying your mortgage.

Think about it, the concept of flying a manager from Auditing half way across continental America for a short chat (with most of the meeting devoted to college football ) is just plain ludicrous.  Yet once selling is thrown into the mix, this is accepted as perfectly normal behavior.  It might even get you promoted in an especially dysfunctional sales organizations.

Like your mother always said “if you don’t respect yourself, how can you expect others to.”  She also advised you to wear clean underwear and was on to something there too.

Dogs have an uncanny ability to smell fear – budget holders can sniff out how much value you place on your own time.  And with not much else to go on for first impressions, your standing in the world will be pegged roughly with where you place yourself.

If someone agrees to meet you for the primary purpose of securing a free lunch – they value your time at exactly $24.16 (the price of a steak at TGI Friday’s including tax).  Anyone who suggests holding a 15 minute meeting in the reception area is signaling that they don’t take you very seriously and are secretly hoping you’ll stop calling.

The rule of thumb is, if you’d be embarrassed to tell your kids what you did at work today, it probably means it wasn’t a very efficient use of your time.

So every now and again give yourself a quick reality check.
– is this person meeting me for the right reasons (they potentially need my company’s services)?
– have we allowed sufficient time for a productive discussion?
– if I owned the company, would I make this business trip?

It’s not enough to get in front of someone, you need to arrive with your credibility in tact.  If you want to walk away from a sales job with your sanity and 401k in check, take your own time seriously and never ever agree to meetings in coffee shops.  You know what I’m talking about…

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