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The Frustration Of Sales

It today’s economy–really, in any economical period–sales can be exhausting.

First, of course, you must be cheerful, engaging, persuasive, persistent and even ready to debate all the time–even if you feel bad or are not in the best of moods.

Second, you have to thrive on rejection most of the time. When a sale hits, it’s a great feeling–without a doubt. And for a moment you forget all of the past struggles.

But that euphoria lasts only until the next day–which is probably tomorrow.

Then, of course, you usually have to wait for the proverbial check in the mail to “count” your blessings. And in today’s economic climate, and with more business headquarters based out of state, 30 days net can turn to 60 days net can turn to 90 days net can turn to “Get my attorney on the phone, please.”

Two recent personal cases in point: I love AT&T as far as service, the techs I know and deal with, etc. But just last week I made an extremely modest sponsorship proposal to a Mississippi executive. When I finally heard back from him after my initial outreach I was told, “Good luck on your new project but we just don’t have the budget right now.”

Say again?

For less than what I spend IN TOTAL every damned month for cell, U-Verse and internet service, I was told, in effect, that the corporate giant which is AT&T Mississippi “didn’t have the budget right now.”
I can’t tell you the thousands upon thousands of dollars I have spent with AT&T as a customer for me, my daughters and other family members going back many years.

And yet that was the response I got. If I’m a day late on my  AT&T payments, though? Well, that’s another story. But I digress…

The other instance that shocked and angered me happened last week, too (not a good week). A local restaurant chain, again where I and another family member here in Ridgeland frequent a LOT, turned me down for a one time ad sale. A very small and reasonable amount I must add. Fair enough. But the way in which the owner did so? Not so fair–or even remotely civil.

After a very amiable and friendly email proposal I composed and sent, one in which I praised individual staff members of his store by name, I get a response about two minutes later stating, “I’m not interested in this (stuff).” Lovely.

Talk about getting to the point.

Well, guess what? Mr. Tact has lost my business FOREVER and I will tell everyone I know about this rudeness. And the salt in the wound is that I’ve been promoting his restaurant on Facebook for a number of years.

Look, being turned down is part of being in sales. We expect it and receive rejection most of the time. But we also would like to expect some respect when told “No” instead of being treated like a dog.

There was even another incident last week from a very rude veterinarian, but I won’t go into that. I’m getting too depressed just writing about it. Better, I know, to focus–as someone who has done this since 1991 to make a living–on the sales that DO come through. And there have been some nice ones recently. Trust me: I will reward and thank them for helping and supporting me.

I just don’t think people realize how mentally exhausting selling anything today really is, advertising space or office products, especially when we don’t do traditional sales in a retail outlet where people enter to buy.

Most of us tend to take it personally, we dwell on our shortcomings, what we did wrong or wonder if our product is perceived as not being good enough. It can wear you down. I recall, after having to be so upbeat and positive on my sales days, coming home to my wife and just wanting to be quiet and still for several hours. That’s probably one reason why I’m divorced.

Sometimes I wish I had a typical 8 to 5 job, with very specific requirements, somewhat rote and repetitious, one in which I would essentially know what to do and expect. Honorable work with benefits, defined pay, vacations, sick days, etc. In sales, or if you own your own business, you’re always dealing with the unexpected, especially now as people have apparently gotten crazier and more abrupt. And it’s a 24-hour gig. Yes, I have gotten texts at 3 a.m. from possible clients who obviously don’t sleep.

I always joke about my CPA friends: every tax season they complain, moan and groan about how overworked they are, which is true. But when I suggest to them, with my best libertarian arguments, that all taxes should be eliminated, they look shocked or downright angry. “Then I’d be out of a job,” they wail. Yes, you would. But people could actually keep what they earn and you could find less stressful work. I don’t tell them that, but it’s true.

Here comes my “famous” quote again: salespeople are the foot soldiers of capitalism. Please do not shoot us down. Ours can be a very rewarding and gratifying job–but too often it feels like we’re fighting an enemy when we’re simply just trying to make a sale–and maybe even a friend.

I need to return back to my sales job now. Wish me luck. And please be nice when I call or come by. I’d hate for you to see a grown man cry–or beg.


Jack Criss

Jack Criss

Publisher and Executive Editor at BAMSouth.com
Jack Criss is the Publisher and Executive Editor of BAMSouth.com and owner of Criss Public Relations. He is a 30 year veteran of the business publishing industry as well as a former talk radio host, lecturer and author of "Ready, Aim, Right!" (Quail Ridge Press, 2004) and the forthcoming "The Great Greek Philosopher: Aristotle For Young People" (DagKat Press, 2017) as well as a work of teen fiction, "Book Island" and the non-fiction title "SuperfloUS: When Mediocrity Is Enshrined And Civility Fades." He was born, raised and currently lives in Ridgeland, MS and is the proud father of Katie and Dagny.
Jack Criss
Jack Criss
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