Make My Day!: AT LEAST WE'RE NOT POLITICIANS
by Erik Deckers
American Reporter Humor Writer
SYRACUSE, Ind. -- Many people don't know what I do for my "day job,= " including several of my co-workers. When I'm not writing humor columns or=
donning a mask and cape to fight crime, I work in the marketing department= of an export company. I also sell some of our products around the Midwest.
Occasionally, we exhibit our products at various trade showsaround = the world, and I have a chance to attend a few. Over the pastseveral years,= I talked to many of the salespeople who also attend theseshows, and I have= come to one conclusion about salespeople all over theworld:
We're all a bunch of damn liars!
Now don't get me wrong. With the exception of used-car salesmen,we = don't lie to our customers. In fact, I am proud to say that very fewpeople = in our particular industry lie to their customers, because if wedid, we wou= ld lose our customers.
Instead, we lie to each other.
Salespeople in general are a very competitive bunch. We alwayswant = to be a good salesperson. When we're a good salesperson, we want tobe one o= f the best. When we're one of the best, we want to be theabsolute best. The= same goes true for the companies we work for, we wantour company to be the= best there is.
Nowhere can you see more examples of this competition than at atrad= e show. At any trade show in any industry, salespeople know eachother, and = have known each other for years. And salespeople being whothey are, will co= nstantly lie to each other about how well they'redoing.
Imagine you're standing in your booth, you've just gottenfinished t= alking to a very important customer (because no goodsalesperson will admit = to having nothing to do at a show), and one ofyour competitors walks up. = "How's the show going," he asks you. It's the typical trade showconver= sation starter.
"Oh, we've been extremely busy," you answer. "People areconstantly = stopping by, we've had a lot of traffic in and out of thebooth, and we've b= een non-stop busy just answering questions andproviding quotes."
What else are you supposed to say? If you're a good salesperson,you= will admit nothing else. Even if that statement isn't true, you'llstill re= peat it because you don't want anyone else to know that thingsare not going= well. But just once -- even if it's not true -- I'd liketo hear someone sa= y:
"It's awful. It's like a morgue around here. No one has stoppedby= our booth, with the exception of one guy who handed us a notice abouta new= lawsuit. Everyone else is avoiding us like we're a colony oflepers, and ou= r president was actually chased out of another hall by acrazed mob carrying= torches and pitchforks."
But no one will ever say that, even if it were true. Why?Because sa= lespeople lie to each other!
We even dance the same untruthful dance when we're asked aboutour a= nnual sales. I have often posed the same question to othersalespeople in ot= her companies, even though I have some idea of what theanswer should be. Wh= at I'm told is completely different.
"Sales are going extremely well! We just sold enough units tofinanc= e the Gross National Product of three developing countries, andhave enough = left over to buy a small island in the Caribbean. We'veovertaken Microsoft = as the most bloated Fortune 500 company in America,and we've just come up w= ith a workable plan for world peace using apiece of string and a piece of m= etal I found in my garage last week."
But why do we say things like that to each other, you're asking?Bec= ause salespeople lie to each other! Not a single salesperson willtell you t= he truth about his or her company, even though sales are inthe toilet, mora= le is not far behind, and the office building is readyto collapse from gene= ral apathy.
"It's just awful," your competition moans, holding his head inhis h= ands. "Not only have we not sold a single unit in over 14 months,we actuall= y have to pay money to our distributors just so they'll let usvisit them. 7= 0% of our customers have said they would rather go back tousing a piece of = coal and a slate tablet before they would ever buy oneof our computers agai= n. We've got enough lawsuits to pay off thenational debt, and we just got a= note from the tobacco industry thatsays 'Gee, we'd hate to be in your shoe= s right now'."
Let's face it, nobody would ever admit to anything like that.Even w= hen Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates bumps into Apple CEO Steve Jobsat a compu= ter show, he tells him that sales are through the roof becauseof all the fr= ee publicity the Microsoft anti-trust trial is bringing.
So why do salespeople lie to each other? Why all thehalf-truths, li= es, and complete fabrications of reality? Could it bethat our egos will not= let us admit defeat in the face of the enemy? Arewe so competitive that we= have to appear better than our counterparts atother companies? Or is it re= ally just the insecurity of appearing smalland weak to others. I think it's= a combination of all these factors, andeven a few more. Other salespeople = just have some major personality flawthat won't let them be vulnerable to a= potential enemy.
But not me. I'm secure in my own accomplishments as well asthose of= my company. I don't have to appear better than I really am tofeel good abo= ut myself. I am proud of who I am, and am not ashamed toown up to my shortc= omings. For example, our own plan for world peaceactually involves two= i> pieces of string, a piece of steel, and a Pezdispenser.