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Now I Are One

The final installment in a series from an unlikely salesman

By RICHARD A. PLINKE

Editor’s Note: This is the last installment of a 10-part series of excerpts from Richard A. Plinke’s upcoming book, “How to Sell the Plague (Without Being a Rat and Other Cheeky Musings of an Unrepentant Salesman).” The series humorously explores how Plinke ended up in sales, the last place he ever thought he’d be and what he learned during those early days that carried over through his 35-year sales career. Subsequent installments will be posted each Monday. If you missed the first parts, you can go back to the beginning here: http://www.salesandmarketing.com/article/dancing-jaws-dragon

 

Because here I am sitting across the desk of Mr. Mac McGlinn once again.

"Do you know why you're here today?" Mac asks.

"Because I want to work for your company selling Yellow Pages advertising," I assert in my best assertive voice because the sales puke told me to be assertive.

"No. That's why you came to the first interview, but since then, we've been calling the shots, telling you when to come in, right?"

I respond "Yes" because the sales puke told me not to say “Yea.” He also told me to sit up straight and look Mac McGlinn in the eye (and try not to drool down the front of my shirt). "I guess that's correct," I add.

"OK, so why are you here today?" he repeats.

"Because the employment agency told me you wanted to see me again," I offer sheepishly, afraid to screw it up this late in the never ending story.

"And why do you think we wanted you to come back in today?"

"Because you are interested in me and would like to take one more opportunity to be certain that I'm both a good fit and still interested," I say, quoting the sales puke almost word for word when he explained to me what the third and last interview was about.

"So you see this as the final step in the interviewing process? Would you say that?"

"Yes," but I have no clue where this is going, which is making me nervous. One last chance for the Dark One to skewer me with his pointed pitchfork of practically peaceful pain as I descend into my final and complete baptism of fire.

"Well that's why you're here, so relax," Mac says, smiling at me in a reassuring manner, something I'm not used to around here, unless it's just before they plunge the devil's knife deep into my chest and through my still beating heart.

"You did well on your other two interviews," he says. "Carl thought you did a good job."

No kidding.

"He tried to make you uncomfortable (job well done!) to see how you'd react, and you reacted with humor, which is a great way to relieve tension in a stressful sales call. It disarms the customer and hits the reset button. Carl was impressed that you didn't lose your cool.

"You did a good job with me, too," he added. You stayed focused and on point, and turned me completely around. And you showed me that you know how to sell. You probably don't realize it but your meeting with the restaurant owner in Aspen was the prefect sales call. You gained rapport and thereby established trust. You asked relevant, penetrating questions and, in so doing, performed thorough fact finding. You related your product, you, to the needs of the customer, the restaurant owner, and you presented your benefits and closed him in one smooth move. It was very nicely done. I think with time and work, you could be a very good salesman."

I don't know whether to be flattered or insulted.

"Do you have anything to add or any questions?" Mac asks.

"Only when do I start?" The sales puke told me to say that. Actually, he first told me to take off my coat, roll up my sleeves and tell Mac I was ready to go to work right now, but I couldn't pull that off, even if I didn't think it was entirely too ridiculous and hokey.

Mac tells me that they are hiring five sales people for this class beginning Monday. He goes on to talk about the training schedule and what he expects from the class. He also says we can only wear suits, no sports coats, white or light blue shirts and ties that don't light up or blink.

When he finishes, he asks, "Do you want the job?"

Come to the dark side, Luke.

"Yes I do."

"Then congratulations," and he offers me his hand. He says he'll see me in a couple of weeks, and in the meantime, I'll be contacted by one of the coaches with all the particulars.

As I walk out the door, he hands me a small box and smiles.

"You sure you want to do this?"

"Absolutely," I say in my best imitation of somebody who knows what they're doing.

But I'm sitting in my car in the parking lot, staring out the windshield and wondering if I really do.

What the hell just happened?

All kinds of ambivalent feelings and contradictory images are rushing through my mind. One of my professors who likes to frequent the tavern, who enjoys a glass of beer or two, told me I'd be sorry if I took a straight job because I'd have to shine my shoes everyday, and that's what I'm sitting in my car in the parking lot thinking about -- wearing shoes everyday that have to be shined.

And then I think about the money and all I can do with it, like buy several pairs of shoes that won't need polishing everyday.

My mind's percolating as I unwrap the small box Mac gave me. In it is a plaster figurine of a man, short and dumpy with mussed hair and a crooked, goofy smile. He's wearing a rumpled suit and is carrying a beat-up briefcase. The small statue is painted a kind of antique gold to make it look like bronze, and the caption at the bottom reads Yesterday I couldn't spell salesman and now I are one.

Wow. A salesman.

And now I are one.

Learn more about Richard Plinke and read his blog here: http://www.howtoselltheplague.com/Home.aspx