Thursday, March 23, 2006

Bookfield, First Sales Meeting

On Saturday night I dutifully completed my sales report, carefully noting my whopping one and only sale, and sealed all of my cash into the remittance envelope. The guys selling books in Oconee County, South of us, picked Mary and me up on Sunday morning and we drove to the sales meeting at a hotel in Marietta, north of Atlanta.

I thought that it would be great fun to go to the meeting. I figured that it would be instructional and supportive for us hard working folks. How bad could it be? At least we would not be asked to recite demonstrations. The meeting was held in a large conference room of the Marriott Hotel, just like other conventions are. I’d say there were about 100 people there. Everyone was smiling and Mary and I sat in the middle of the audience. The song, Me and Mrs. Jones [we got a thing going on] as sung by Billy Paul, was playing on the house audio system. I guess it was the Parchment theme song.

As I recall, after our welcome from Robbie, individual sales people were asked to stand up and reveal their sales total for the week. If they had sold well, they were to explain how they accomplished this. Pity the soul who did not have a good week, however, because they were publicly chastised. It was all planned. The management had seen the totals from our sales statements and orchestrated these ‘testimonials’. Again, I found myself dreading being called on.

Apparently, Mary had sold really well in her first week. She was asked to stand to report her first week’s total, which she did, and she managed to give a very politic reason, “I just followed my training!” Every one applauded, including me. I was really proud of her, and she gave me hope that I could do the same.

A young man was called on next and his total was not as impressive as Mary’s. Robbie snapped, “Hey! A girl sold better than you! Ha, ha, ha!” Everyone in the room laughed at the young man. “What are you going to do to improve your performance?” quipped Robbie.

The poor guy sputtered, “Um, I’m going to rededicate myself to doing my demonstrations and I’m going to really ‘want’ the sale!” There was a telltale hesitation and pain in his voice. He was caught off guard and humiliated. His answer was like spitting into the wind.

I just kind of died inside. How could they humiliate someone who was out there trying! And, if that wasn’t enough, Mary and I were the only women in the room, and obviously we ‘girls’ were not expected to sell as well as the men. If by chance we did, it would be used to chastise the men. My sales meeting bubble burst; I never wanted to go to another. But, attendance was required and this was only the first of many. I was grateful not to be called on that day. Was my week that bad compared to the others?

Later, I congratulated Mary on her great week and asked her if she could give me any tips. She was completely unhelpful, although not for lack of good intentions. She said that she herself did not understand the reason for her success. All she had done was use the demonstrations as written.

The rest of the day we were free to socialize and swim in the hotel’s pool. Most of the guys really let off steam. They acted out as if drunk, but I don’t think they were. I can’t say that I was in a party mood. I felt a little stunned. It was going to be a long summer.


Anonymous said...

you were right, it's almost too painful to read.



Sue said...

Glad you noticed!

savante said...

Ouch. I guess I can strike becoming a salesman off the list.


Sue said...

Yup. You are so right Paul.

Anonymous said...

Keep up the good work »