"We're adding a little something to this month's sales contest. As you all know, first prize is a Cadillac Eldorado. Anybody want to see second prize? Second prize is a set of steak knives. Third prize is you're fired."
- Alec Baldwin, Glengarry Glen Ross (1992) [imdb]
In sales, and I have been in sales far longer than I ever thought my soul would permit, it really does not matter what you did yesterday all that matters is what you sold today and what you're going to sell tomorrow. The jobs I used to have, McDonald's and the movie theatres, took everything into account. You work hard and you're good at what you do and you'll get ahead and get rewarded. Sales it's all about the numbers on the board, the person with the highest numbers up on the dry erase board in the stock room is the best employee and there's nothing more to it than that.
I have seen a lot of good people flip out and fuck up under the pressure. In Kelowna I used to work with a guy named Rob who was a decent enough guy. After work sometimes I'd go over to his apartment and play NHL '01 on his PS2. He had been one of the top sales people in Vancouver and had moved to Kelowna to try to make inroads there. It never happened for him and soon he did something he quite clearly should not have done and was gone the next day. He was one of the well intentioned people.
Maybe it's just the strain of planning for a European trip, one that I'm not quite financially prepared for added to the fact that when I return my continued employment is very much in question, but I'm starting to lose that detached ability to view this job as a minor pit stop in my life. Realizing how much I need it right now, and how fucked I'd be without it, is shockingly scary. Getting a degree sorted out after ten years, might help but with each step I take towards that I keep discovering that I'm walking backwards.
Jeff recommended that I watch Glengarry Glen Ross, so I rented it with Lydia. I fell asleep due to because I was tired after work and didn't make it much past Alec Baldwin's part, but Jeff claimed that it made him want to take a part time job in sales just so that he could experience what he'd seen in the film. I saved it to my Apple TV so I'll watch it again later, but unless it takes a drastic second half turn I don't see it becoming a feel good movie. There's nobody like Alec Baldwin's character in real life, or at least none that I've ever met, but he's not far off how people think. It is all about closing.
If you're numbers are good then you are pretty much untouchable. Dealing with drug dealers, biker gangs and other sorts that you wouldn't invite over for a social visit, can be overlooked if the numbers are there. Our regional sales manager was reluctant to fire employees after they were clearly playing paperwork games to increase their own profit while selling to a Biblical themed gang. The sales staff fired had been having a running feud with my brother who worked at that store. After their firing when their corporate emails were searched it was discovered that they were not-so-jokingly talking amongst themselves about hiring someone to deal with him.
It's not that I'm suggesting that sales naturally leads to the hiring of hit-men or dealing with criminals. Rather I'm pointing out that at the end of the day it's about numbers and a lot will be forgiven if the sales are there and little will be appreciated if they're not.
They're talking about hiring more people to work in the store and extending the hours from the already late 7 pm until 9 pm all because the last two months we have been making the numbers show up and doing well. These changes will probably increase the sales in the store by a small amount but decrease the sales each representative gets by a large amount.
When I'm back from Europe things will have changed, and I'm not sure where I'm going to be standing anymore. I'm nervous, and though I've always said that I couldn't make a career out of sales I'm going to have to hold on a bit longer. The inevitable freak out and collapse will have to wait, I need a set of steak knives.