Category Archives: Challenges

When Your Product Demo Goes Horribly Wrong:

Epic-Fail-newspaper-stack

My Epic Failures Selling Capital Equipment

Back in the day, I used to sell medical devices and I have to admit that I hated it.   The only thing I liked about it was the hefty commission but even that was just a one time deal.

For those of you who have ever sold capital equipment, you know how exciting it is to finally get the opportunity to do a product demonstration because if your demonstration is a success, it is highly likely you will be able to close on the spot.

If you’re like me and slightly neurotic (ok maybe highly neurotic), the night before you spend countless time testing the heck out of your equipment to make sure it is working properly so that your demonstration goes smoothly the following day.  But even if you do that, there is always a chance that something can go wrong and not only ruin your potential to make that sale, but possibly to even be welcomed back down the road.

Product demonstration day is a make it or break it day.

When I was selling blood analyzers, I had to look professional and carry the following into a clinic in a single trip:

  • Analyzer #1 (50lbs) which was on wheels and 2ftx2ftx2ft in dimension. I secretly referred to this as “The Big Prick” although I never shared that with anyone of course
  • Analyzer #2 and #3 (35lbs in total) in a bag that went over my shoulder
  • A detail binder

Most of the time, nobody helped me with the door either. I tell you, it surely wasn’t easy to get all of that in the door on your own and try not to break a sweat or the equipment (if it gets jammed in the door as you enter)!.

I always envied the pharmaceutical reps who sat in the clinic waiting room beside me who held a simple piece of paper or detail binder alone.  Lucky bastards, I thought.  This was a huge reason I decided to go into pharmaceutical sales! Then at least I could go back to wearing heels. You just can’t wear high heels when you’re carrying that much gear. I digress.

After sitting in the waiting room comes the second most nerve wracking part, setting up the equipmentYou have to do it fast to make sure it doesn’t look to complicated and correctly on the first go.  This may take a lot of practice.

Then comes the most nerve wracking part, the actual demonstration!

My Epic Failures in Product Demonstration:

Epic Fail #1:

cbc analyzerOne time I had set up all 3 pieces of equipment and “The Big Prick” decided to leak all over the place!!! (Pun not intended but realized post-script) And I’m not talking about a small drip, the fluids (reagent solution) were just flowing out of the bottom of the machine as soon as I turned it on to prime it Of course this was the precise moment when my client and all of her staff walked into the room and saw everything!  I tried to explain that a small tube must have gotten loose during transport, so I opened the machine up to try and identify the location of the leak and well, my client saw how many tiny little tubes were inside this device and decided that it was all too easy for something to go wrong and regardless of what I said, they were no longer interested.  I packed up and left. Next!

Epic Fail #2

BLOOD WORK RESULTSOn another occasion where I had set up the equipment correctly, the client wanted to run some test samples on the device.  Although it was calibrated beforehand, for some reason the results on my machine were all completely out of range.  They even ran the same sample using two other testing methods (outside lab and their existing equipment) and those matched. But unfortunately, my equipment was off.  Way off. Since our main selling feature was the accuracy of the machine, I lost that sale and was not welcomed back.

 

 

Epic Fail #3

dental sprayI also used to sell dental equipment, which included electrical scalers and compression-powered polishers. At a dental seminar we were sponsoring, another rep and I set up all of the devices on a side table and while the speaker was presenting, one of the machines suddenly would not stop spraying water out of the tip!  We tried to maintain our cool (mostly trying not to burst into laughter!) and avoid attracting any attention so we had to take turns holding this leaking piece behind our backs during the presentation and during breaks when the attendees were visiting our station to view our equipment.  Fortunately nobody noticed!  Sweat, sweat, sweat!

Those are just a few examples but these types of things happened on a regular basis. Although I must say that in defense of the equipment, I’m sure I wasn’t always handling it in the most delicate manner at all times which didn’t help *ahem* *ahem* but what rep does???

I struggled with the fact that even though I may have been a good salesperson, if the equipment you are selling doesn’t do what it is supposed to and align with your sales presentation then the odds of you making the sale are slim to nil. I’m sure there is room to be creative and try to win the buyer back but if I test drove a new car that was malfunctioning, I most certainly wouldn’t buy it.

In the end, I decided that capital equipment sales were not for me, but it sure was a learning experience!

If you have sold capital equipment, I would love to hear your product demonstration failure stories and what you did to overcome it.

Happy Sales!

Cheers,

TSW

 

Please follow and like The Travelling Saleswoman:
0

How Poor CEO Decisions Impact Sales Reps: The VW Recall

An Interview with Aaron Hansen, Sales Manager at Cambridge Volkswagen.

Volkswagen-TDI

If you are a sales representative, sales manager, or other front-line staff, there is nothing worse than finding out the head of your company made a huge mistake that reflects poorly on your company.  In some cases, you may have a head’s up of the bad news and have time to prepare, be proactive and inform your clients directly before they find out from a 3rd party, however this is not always the case.

As most of you are aware, Martin Winterkorn, the recently resigned CEO of Volkswagen, had approved the decision to install software on over 480,000 “clean” diesel vehicles in the US between 2009-2015. This software only activated the cars’ pollution controls during emissions testing (while on a hoist) which has now prompted a world-wide recall of nearly 11 million vehicles. This was obviously a fraudulent means to pass the rigorous EPA standards in the US and will end up costing VW up to $18 billion.

Most certainly, this is not the first scandal of its time, especially in automobile history.  In my opinion, the majority of large corporations are guilty of some sort of fraudulent activity, just not all of them get caught.

Where I feel pain, is for the sales people.  They had no say in the executive decision whatsoever yet have to deal with the wrath of chaos the CEO’s have created for them. No matter how bad the news, the sales reps have to suck it up, put on a happy face, keep smiling and continue selling.  I have been there and it’s not easy.  For those of you who are in this situation, I would recommend reading my previous article on The Rumor Mill: How to Grind it to a Halt Before it Hurts your Business.

In this article, I have interviewed Aaron Hanson the Sales Manager at Cambridge Volkswagen here in Canada to get his take on the incident and how he and his sales force are handling the matter.

TSW:How did you find out? Did you have any advanced notice or time to prepare?”

AH: “No head’s up at all.  I saw it on the news the morning before I came into work.”

 

TSW: “How did you and your team react to the news?”

AH: “We were all stressed initially but the fact of the matter is, we sell the cars, we don’t build them. This is not the first or the last time this has happened to a car company. Regardless of what it is in the news, VW is still a great brand that we all have faith in.  We have always and will continue to focus on great customer service. It is a small upset so we just persevere, with smile!”

 

TSW: “How do you stay positive?”

AH: “Easy, we are still alive! It is what it is.  Only 30% of our sales were TDI models and the rest were gasoline powered.”

 

TSW: “How do you feel this news will impact sales now and in the future?”

AH: “Unknown. It is only 5 days in, so it is too early to tell.”

 

TSW: “What sort of message have you been relaying to new and existing customers?”

AH:  “All our TDI customers (whose contact info we have in our database) were contacted immediately. We sent everyone a message informing them of the news, if their vehicle was affected and encouraged them to call us with any questions and concerns.”

 

TSW: “What kind of responses have you been getting?”

AH: “99% Positive. Almost everyone took the time to reply and say thank you for the follow-up. They were really appreciative of the proactive approach that we took.”

 

TSW: “What have you been saying to new potential customers who come into your dealership?”

AH: “We are completely upfront with them from the get-go.  So far, none of them are really concerned. They all still want to buy! The primary reason people buy our diesel vehicles is because of the fuel economy and they buy from us because of our excellent customer service.”

 

TSW: “Since your reps are 100% commission based and have specific monthly quotas for different vehicle types (diesel, gasoline, used), will you still be upholding those targets or adjusting them?”

AH: “Right now, it is unknown how this news will impact sales because it is too early to tell.  That being said, we are being flexible and seeing how and if sales will change.”

Based on my interview with Aaron, I think he is doing the best a sales manager or representative could do when faced with this particular situation. If you find yourself in this situation, I recommend you follow this example.

Aaron has been my sales rep at Volkswagen for the past 10 years.  I have purchased 3 cars from him, 2 of which were TDI’s, so am I concerned about my TDI vehicle or the VW Brand?

No.  I am a trusted and true VW fan and as I said previously, most major corporations lie and engage in some sort of fraudulent activity and so did VW. So what? What else is new?  I still love my car and I still stand by the fact that I think the VW Passat TDI is the #1 Vehicle for Sales Reps.

I did not buy my car for “green status” which it was never eligible for here in Canada anyway.

I did not buy my car so that I can drink water out of the exhaust.

I purchased my VW Passat TDI because of the fuel economy, handling, comfort and because of the excellent service I have always received from Aaron and staff at Cambridge Volkswagen.

A great sales rep can go a long way, and in most cases can be more important to the consumer than the company they represent.

I would love to hear from other sales reps about how you have dealt with a similar situation where your company has received some negative press and what you and your team did to overcome that.

Happy sales my friends.  Remember, even when times get tough, keep persisting and keep positive no matter how hard it may be.

Cheers,

TSW

Please follow and like The Travelling Saleswoman:
0

Road Woes: Getting Help en Route in a Foreign Language

Last week I wrote about my experiences cold calling in a foreign language.  As you can imagine, that entire experience was immensely difficult and intimidating however, trying to get help when you run into trouble en route is equally difficult, if not more frustrating.

womancartrouble

Every year I worked in the French-only speaking province of Quebec, something came up where I needed help and it was nearly impossible to do so because of the language barrier. This is something we all take for granted on our home turf.   These are some of my worst experiences:

 

Flat Tire

TIRE leaking-air-causes-the-liquid-to-bubble-at-the-hole

When I arrived at my hotel in Quebec City and got out of my car, I noticed that I had a flat tire. I called CAA and they informed me that they could not guarantee that they could send a tow truck driver who spoke English.

In preparation, I had prepared some soapy water in my hotel room and put it into a squirt bottle so that I could spray it onto the tire to clearly demonstrate where the leak was coming from (it will bubble where the leak is as shown in the photo).  I also did a quick Google Translate search for “flat tire” which came up as “pneu à plat”.

When the driver arrived, not only didn’t he speak a lick of English when I pointed to the soap covered tire which was clearly bubbling where the leak was present while saying “pneu à plat!”, he just gave me a blank stare as though I was completely insane! After a few minutes passed he just shook his head in a “no” direction. Great.  So I ran inside the hotel, gave the front desk girl $50 cash to be my translator which she did.   But the guy informed her that he didn’t have the proper tools to put a spare tire on so he left!!!

This left me no choice but to fill my tire up with air every 2 hours overnight at a nearby gas station so the tire wouldn’t be completely flat and damage my rim and then I drove it to a VW dealership the next morning where they fixed it.  At least somehow they understood me!

I later learned that in Quebec French, instead of “plat” they use the word cassé which directly translates to “broken”.  Lesson learned!!! But I still think that guy was being an @$$hole.

Car Accident

crash4

Naturally I was in the middle of absolutely nowhere Quebec when I got into a car accident and of course, the guy who smashed into me didn’t speak any English.  Fortunately, the day before when I got violently stung by wasps while I was driving (Check out the full story “The Busy Bee Gets Stung”), I had asked a hotel concierge if the 911 operators speak English and learned that they do!

Since this accident was clearly this man’s fault and not mine, I called 911 immediately and with confidence knowing that they spoke English.  They told me that they would do their best to send a bilingual police officer which they did.  The only problem was when the other guy was explaining his version of the accident, I had no idea what he was saying.  In general, Quebecers hate people from Ontario!!! So, I was certain that he was blaming everything on me and that the police officer would side with him.  Regardless, in the end I got lucky because the guy didn’t have his insurance with him and he failed to provide it to my insurance company which resulted in not only him being deemed 100% at fault for the accident but also fined for failing to provide insurance.

Sickness

womansleepingincarNear the end of my two week working trip in Quebec a few years ago, I contracted a nasty respiratory infection and I required antibiotics.  This is when I learned that Quebec has the poorest healthcare system in all of Canada. To see how the other provinces rank, be sure to read my previous article on Canadian Healthcare: “Free” but Certainly Not Consistent.

I went to 5 different walk-in clinics and every single one told me that I needed to show up at 7am the following day to register and then it would be a 2-3 day wait to see a doctor!  In spite of my attempt to explain that I just need a prescription and I’m in and out the door, it didn’t matter.

Each clinic informed me that if I required more prompt treatment that I should go to the hospital emergency department where I would likely be seen within 36 hours. When I told them that I could be dead from pneumonia by then, their advice to me was, “Well just go back to Ontario or drive to the US if you need to see a doctor today.”.   So that’s exactly what I did. I cancelled the rest of my appointments and went back to my home province where I got in to see a doctor right away and got the meds I needed.

TIP: If you have found yourself in one of these scenarios, all I can suggest is to try and use body language as much as possible.  It’s amazing how much information can be relayed using simple gestures.  If that fails and you happen to have a piece of paper and a pen handy, try to draw a diagram.  That can go a long way as well.

Whether you are travelling for business or pleasure in a foreign country, try to do your best in advance of your trip to determine what the healthcare system is like and to learn some quick phrases that may get you the help you need. Most people just spend time focusing on how to ask for food or drinks at a restaurant but based on my experiences, I learned that I needed to know how to say:

  • “I need help”
  • “My tire is flat”
  • “I am sick and need to see a doctor”
  • “I have an emergency and require assistance”
  • “Do you speak [YOUR LANGUAGE]? Or ‘’Can I speak with someone who speaks [YOUR LANGUAGE]?’

…and I’m sure there are many, many more!!!

I would love to hear your experiences trying to get assistance in a foreign language.

Travel safe my friends and always do your best to be prepared.  You never know what’s lurking on the road ahead of you.

Cheers,

 

TSW

Please follow and like The Travelling Saleswoman:
0

When the Four Elements Destroy Your Road Trip Plans

four elements

Because Sometimes Mother Nature Can Be A Bitch!

Now that its summer time, we generally don’t think of how the weather could interrupt our travel plans or at least I never did.  Here in Canada and in the northern US, snowstorms would be the most likely culprit to force us to put our plans to the way side. But interestingly, the only times I have had to make serious changes to my road trip plans have been during the summer months.

In this article, I’m going to share with you some instances where Mother Nature has lashed out with vengeance and no, I’m not referring to inclement weather like snow or rain.  Below are four instances where each of the 4 elements has grinded my travel plans to an absolute halt.  You can’t make up these excuses!

1. Earth: The Sinkhole that Swallowed My Car

stuckcar

While en route in central Ontario, I parked my car on a gravel country road and just as I put it into park, I felt the car shift downwards slightly to the right.  I stepped out of my car and noticed that the passenger side wheels were a few inches deep into the gravel so I got back in my car and attempted to drive out of that spot but unfortunately, I was stuck.  As I exited my vehicle, I noticed that it was sinking and quite rapidly so I reached for my phone to call CAA and low and behold, there was no cellular reception.  Within 15 minutes, two wheels on the driver’s side were up in the air and my car was rapidly sinking.   I had no choice but to knock on a stranger’s door and ask them to use their phone.  Luckily they were home and as fate would have it, they recognized me from a store we both shopped at over 2 hours away! They informed me that CAA would take in excess of 2 hours to come out there so they offered to pull my car out with their pick-up truck and some chains.  By the time they got to my car with the pick-up truck, my car was completely on one side and in the ground up to the top of the passenger side window!!! Fortunately they were able to pull my car out and were even nice enough to rinse off all of the stones in the undercarriage and wheel wells for me before I went on my way.

2. Air: The Tornado that Almost Swept My Car Away

funnelcloud

A few years ago, I was driving through a small country town in Southwestern Ontario that had just been hit by a tornado a few days prior when the weather took a turn for the worst.  The wind, rain and hail was so intense that I couldn’t see anything so I pulled over and called my office to ask them to check if there was a tornado watch in the area.  The gal at my office informed me that there was a tornado warning for the area and that the radar map showed that one was likely occurring not too far away on my intended route.  With that information I decided to take an immediate detour but it was too late.  There was a deafening silence in the air and my ears began to pop.  I looked to my left and saw a funnel cloud touching the ground 80-100 yards away and it was approaching me.  I pressed my foot down on the gas pedal as far as it would go, but my car would not go faster than 120km/hr! I kept shouting to myself (well more like the car) “Come on! Come on! Go! Go! Go!!” It felt like I was barely moving and this funnel cloud was rapidly approaching, 50 yards….40 yards…It was terrifying but also an adrenaline rush like no other.  Fortunately I was able to beat the funnel cloud but only by a matter of a few yards before I would have been sucked into it or tossed around, whatever! That was a close call.  At that point I decided to just stop at the next town and cancel the rest of my day.  I was seriously off route and didn’t want to risk encountering another one of these beasts!

3. Fire: Forest Fires

kelownafireLast year when I was on a road trip in the Okanagan region of British Columbia, a series of severe forest fires broke out and several areas were being evacuated.  The first ones I could see were in western Kelowna.  I could see them from my hotel room and knowing that I had meetings with clients in that area the next day, I called them to ask them if they were ok and if they were under evacuation alert.  Needless to say, if you have to call your client and ask them if their property is on fire and if they are being evacuated, it might be best to cancel that meeting! Although my clients weren’t being evacuated (just their neighbors!), I offered to bring by some emergency supplies and help as needed since they no longer had power.  Obviously no sales happened on this call!

Later in my travels to the southern Okanagan, I had to completely cancel the rest of my trip and fly out of a different airport because there were two forest fires; one on each side of the ONLY highway going into the mountains where I was supposed to go.  It was quite an expense and inconvenience to have to cancel the rest of my trip, but it was far too dangerous to risk driving on a highway surrounded by fires. What if the highway gets closed? What if I run out of fuel? Then what? In cases like that, my safety takes priority over making a sale.  After all, if you aren’t around to collect that commission, what’s the point?

4. Water: Massive Flooding

calgaryflood

Two years ago I had flown to Calgary for a conference and had planned to cover southern Alberta which I normally do in the spring but this particular year I had to cancel my plans because heavy snowstorms caused the closure of all primary highways to the south. I suppose as fate would have it, I was not going to be seeing any clients in southern Alberta that year because when I flew in, southern Calgary and all areas south experienced massive flooding and many of my clients even lost their homes. In speaking with some other sales reps and the conference, I was shocked that some of them actually had the nerve to try and see these clients.  I’m sorry but if your client just experienced some major natural disaster and suffered extreme damages or lost their home, I don’t think it is at all appropriate to try and make a sales call!!!  Have some respect and common sense people!

In my position, I cover all of Canada so I only get to see my clients once per year. I spend a significant amount of money travelling and invest a lot of effort into arranging these meetings, so I will do anything to avoid cancelling a meeting. I absolutely HATE having to cancel meetings! Sometimes however, instances like these arise that make it physically impossible to make to a meeting or an entire leg of my trip and  you just have to put your safety first and be cognizant of others’ situations.

So travel safe my fellow road warriors!

Cheers,

TSW

Please follow and like The Travelling Saleswoman:
0

The Worst Pitches I’ve Ever Heard…

sleazysalesman

and They Aren’t All From Salespeople!

For those of you who read my previous post, Why Salespeople Are Suckers For a Great Sales Pitch, you would know that I can be a sucker for a pretty face and if that person has a great sales pitch, I’m likely to buy whatever it is that they are selling.

On the contrary, I have zero tolerance for a lousy sales pitch regardless of whether it is coming from a real salesperson or just the average joe trying to sell me on an idea. Here are some examples.

The Worst Pitches From Salesmen:

dannyD Sales

1. “Do you realize how much money you could be saving? A Mercedes salesman asked me when I drove into the dealership with a Honda Civic and told him I was also considering a VW TDI. He clearly didn’t have the slightest clue about how to qualify a buyer.

2. “You should buy from me because we know so many of the same people.” A chemical salesman who stalked me on LinkedIn and even contacted a former employer of mine! Can you say, overstepping boundaries???

3. “You must buy today because the sale is over tomorrow.” Volkswagen salesman standing in front of a sign that said the sale was over at the end of the following month.

4. The Robot Pitch. Where someone has clearly memorized a script and when you ask them a question that isn’t on their list, they draw a complete blank or just repeat the script.

There are many others including “This product makes you thin, healthy and cures cancer!” or “This is the only product you’ll ever need!” and the list goes on and on and on…

So, what is the worst pitch I have ever heard and yet hear time and time again?…Drum roll please!

winner

Men who try to “sell” me on why I should be a lesser person. 

Yes, that’s right.  It’s a sad but true reality.  As a hard-working, well established professional woman who takes care of herself, I find myself completely bewildered at the number of men who have tried to convince me to do such a crazy thing!

Below are some real life examples of what some “men” have suggested to me over the years.

Worst Pitches From “Men”:

awkward face

1. You should quit your job and become a bartender. You like people right? I think that would be a better fit for you.”-

Oh sure, sign me up to quit my six figure job and sell my house so I can rent a cheap apartment and be a bartender! F*&% retirement! Retirement is for old people.  Oh wait, does that mean I can live off of you ? That would be so romantic. I can’t wait for a man to take care of me!

2. You don’t need to make so much money. You should slow down. It will be better for your health.”

Excuse me, did you mean to say, “So you can make less than me and make me feel like a man?”

3. Why do you like to eat such good food and have nice things like your Caesar salad and red wine for dinner? You don’t have to.”

Hmm…let me think about that one. Maybe because I like nice things, want nice and I buy those nice things for myself with my own hard earned money.  Thank you for asking.

4. “Why are you dressed so nice? You shouldn’t dress so nice all of the time.”

Uuh because I like to look good? Maybe I was trying to look good for you? Can you say, jealous much?

5. Why do you have to travel so much? Are you running away from something? There is so much to enjoy at home.”

Where do I even start with this one? How about I want to explore the world? Why waste it on the couch? Do you mean to say that you can’t afford to travel and you don’t want me to travel solo so you want to talk me out of travelling period? Maybe I should consider running away…from you!

These comments may seem ridiculous but I must say that when I first met these men, the primary interaction often does not start off on this note, but rather with a bombardment of compliments and expressions of admiration for my ambition and accomplishments. The tone usually changes quite quickly.  One guy I dated had this eureka moment and told me, You treat yourself like a princess and that doesn’t leave any room for me to do anything.  I don’t know what to do.” In my mind, I think the fact that I can take care of myself should be viewed as a perk to a man but perhaps only to a select few!

Why do men think that they can “change” a strong woman into a weaker version of herself? Or rather, generally speaking, why do people think that they can change others?

The answer is simple: Because it’s easier to try and “sell” other people on changing themselves than it is to accept yourself and make yourself a better person.

Whether we realize it or not, we are “selling” to others and others are “selling” us every day of our lives.  We all try to get what we want, to make ourselves look good, funny, interesting, worthy of attention and so on and so forth. Whatever it may be, whenever you do it regardless of whether it is in a professional or personal capacity,  a good rule of thumb to live by is:

Don’t sell yourself short and don’t sell others short.

I would love to hear stories from you about the worst pitches you have heard!

Happy sales my friends and don’t get sold on a bad pitch, especially those from non-sales people!

TSW

Please follow and like The Travelling Saleswoman:
0

The Price Objection: What it Really Means and How to Overcome it

Your price is too high!

In my 10 years’ experience as a B2B sales professional, I can say with confidence that any client who initially objects to your price and uses that as an excuse not to purchase your product or service simply brushing you off.

After all, saying “Your product is too expensive” is much more polite than saying “I don’t want to buy your product. Get out of my office!”

So what do you do?

For starters, do NOT be sucker and immediately drop your price.

suckers

If you simply sell based on price alone, you are an order taker. Sorry to break it to you but there is no ‘salesmanship” in giving your best price and taking an order. Any customer service agent on minimum wage answering a phone can do just that!

The most important “sales training” I have ever had is working for a company selling higher priced products at a non-negotiable price point.  Rather than focusing on price, I’m forced to focus on the quality and service that my company can deliver.  To properly relay that information and translate that into a sale, requires work and that my friends, is salesmanship.

Clients have to realize that they can’t have everything and by everything I mean the best product at the best price that is delivered with the best service.  At best, most companies can offer 2 out of the 3.

projectTriangle

 

Let’s walk through the process through a general scenario.

EXAMPLE SCENARIO:

 You’re in front of a client for the first time, introducing your company and product portfolio. You’ve established what products your client uses from your competitor and you proceed to inform them that you offer the same or a similar product/service.  Prematurely, your client interrupts you and asks you your price.  When you give them your price, they tell you what you already know, “You’re price is too high.”

There it is.  You could interpret this in one of two ways:

  1. They are right. I’m not getting this sale.  I can’t beat the price, so I better move on. 

OR

2.   Game on! Now the real selling begins!

I hope none of you sided with option 1.  If you did, you either need more training or should consider changing careers.

So, game on!

Here is What You Should Do to Overcome the Price Objection:

1. Be Firm: Don’t negotiate your price. Others pay full price, so why should this client be an exception? If you have other clients in the area that this client would happen to be competing with who happen to be using your product of focus, make that known. If those direct competitors of your client aren’t using your product yet, make it known that you will be calling on them afterwards,  All the more reason that “you” don’t really need the business as much as they think you do and therefore have no need to budge on price.  Reverse psychology can go a long way.

2. Elaborate: Focus on other features and benefits that your company can provide (i.e. better service, higher quality).

3. Be Creative. If you are in your clients’ environment, look around for clues that might give them reasons to use a product from your portfolio that they may never thought of using before. Sometimes I’ve been in a clinic and see a list of things they are looking for. Simply pointing that out and mentioning that I can offer one of those items has gotten me the sale many times.  On the other hand, if you are meeting outside of their working environment be sure to ask them more questions about their business while in the back of your mind searching for products or services you can offer them.  Once this dialogue is open, you’d be surprised at how open most people are.

4. Ask For the Sale: As you scan through all of the potential products your client could purchase and they demonstrate interest, be sure to ask for the sale.

5. Be Persistent: This is where I have the most fun. Once you’ve gotten them to order one product, why not ask for more? Laugh and have fun with it.  Your client knows that you are there to sell them something so they expect it. If they haven’t ordered anything yet, keep asking! I have no shame in asking for the sale multiple times in a single call. I think my record was asking for a sale 10 times in one call.  After striking out 9 times, when I asked the 10th time, I finally got the “Ok, you got the sale!”.  I realize full well that he may have done that to get me out of his office (another brush off, yes I know!), but regardless I did get the sale, was welcomed back and continue to get more business.

Always keep in mind that if you can get at least one of your products or services in the door, that leaves that door open for you to come back and acquire more business, so don’t give up at the slightest objection.

Experiment: If you are used to selling on price alone, for one day or one week conduct all of your sales calls as if you are not allowed to budge on price.  I would love to hear your results!

Happy sales my friends!

Cheers,

TSW

Please follow and like The Travelling Saleswoman:
0

How to Keep Fit While on the Road

road-trip-exercise-art

Are you a road warrior and struggle to keep up your fitness routine while en route?  Do you tell yourself “I just don’t have the time.”? Or “My hotel doesn’t have a gym so I can’t work out.”?

Well, it’s time you stop lying and making excuses to yourself.  The truth is you CAN make time for exercise and you CAN do a full workout without access to a gym.  The same goes for eating healthy on the road, as some of you might recall from my previous article on “How to Eat Healthy on the Road”.  It’s all possible.  You just have commit to it.   In this post, I will provide some helpful hints on how you can make time to keep fit and work out even if you do not have access to traditional exercise equipment.

HOW TO MAKE TIME TO EXERCISE:

  1. Wake Up Earlier in the Morning

Assuming you don’t have to hit the road really early (and by really early, I mean before 6am), in my opinion, this is the best time to work out.  Working out in the morning has several benefits including but not limited to:

  • Waking you up!
  • Increasing your energy level and metabolism throughout the day.
  • Give you a great excuse to have a full, healthy breakfast before you hit the road. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Don’t skimp!
  • Forcing you to go to bed earlier which will reduce the amount of snacking and alcohol consumption you may otherwise do in the evenings.
  1. Fit in Workouts in Between Meetings

When you’re in and out of sales calls all day long, you spend the majority of your day sitting, be it in the car or a client’s office. If you have the time in between meetings, the best thing you can do is go for a walk! I say walk, not jog because you’ll be dressed in business attire and won’t want to break a sweat before that next meeting.

WHERE can you walk?

If it is nice outside, take a stroll in a park, side street or sidewalk in town.

If the weather is poor or too cold, find a shopping mall and take a long brisk walk (without stopping to shop of course!).

If you have more time (>1h), try to squeeze in one of my “Car Workouts” in this article.

  1. After Work: Skip the Snack and Workout Instead

This is another great option which you can do as soon as you get settled into your hotel and before you eat dinner.  Some benefits include:

  • Relieving stress from a hard day on the road
  • Curbing your appetite. Skip that sugary snack or drink upon your arrival to your hotel room, work out instead. Then afterwards so you can load up on a healthy, high protein dinner with lots of veggies.  This may also curb your temptation to snack late at night.
  • Providing that last burst of energy to get you through those daily reports and emails after dinner.
  • Improved sleep (as long as you exercise at least 3 hours before going to bed).

So now that you’ve figured out WHEN you can exercise, WHAT are you going to do for exercise and HOW?

HOW TO PLAN A WORKOUT IN ANY ENVIRONMENT

When you arrive at your hotel, take a few minutes to check out what facilities are available to you.  Typically you will either have access to a

  1. Full gym, equipped with cardio machines and weights
  2. Partial gym, equipped with cardio equipment only OR
  3. No gym

If you’re lucky, you will have access to a fully equipped gym and will be able to do your usual or scheduled workout routine.  Unfortunately, most hotels do not offer this, so you will likely have to do a bit of work to plan your workout.

When you visit the fitness facility in your hotel, bring a small piece of paper and a pen with you (or the notepad in your phone) and make an inventory of the equipment. Next to each piece of equipment make note of the different exercises that you can do.  If you have been working out regularly in the days prior, simply continue with your regular scheduled exercise regimen. On the other hand, if you have been off for a few days, try to do a full body workout and/or work out as many muscle groups as possible. When you’re ready to do your workout, take your note with you to the gym to keep you on track.

In the event that you don’t have access to any weights or exercise equipment, I would recommend trying one of the following workouts I’ve developed with the assistance of my personal trainer.

Tip: If you have access to a treadmill, try to squeeze in some cardio after your workout as this will reduce the amount of lactic acid (a compound that causes muscle cramping) in your bloodstream.

No treadmill? No problem! If you can get outside to walk or jog, great!  If not, most hotels have stairs so try going up and down a few flights to get your cardio in!

The Hotel Room Workout:

womanworkingoutinhotel-room1

Below is a list of suggestions for various exercises that you can do to target certain muscle groups.  All of these exercises can be done in a basic hotel room with no equipment:

Legs: Squats, Lunges, Step-ups (using a table or chair in your room)

Abs: Put a sheet or towel on the floor. Use the base of the bed frame or air conditioner to position your feet under to keep stable and crunch, crunch, crunch away! There are so many ab exercises you can do.  Try a plank position as well.

Chest: Push-ups (on the floor or against a desk, table or bed)

Triceps: Triceps dips on any window ledge, counter or solid surface.

The Car Workout:

guy pullups insidecar

I will forewarn you that you must not be too shy or embarrass easily to do this one.  This workout is great if you have time between appointments and/or you find yourself “homeless” at some point in your travels. By “homeless” I’m referring to the time in between when you have to check out of a hotel and can check into your next hotel. I have categorized each exercise by target muscle groups.

What you will need:

  • Weights (optional): If you’re travelling in your own car, take them from home. If you’re away from home and have a rental, try buying some containers of cat litter that have a handle. They are heavy, cheap and could be used to assist you with traction in the event your vehicle gets stuck in snow, ice or mud. If you don’t have those, try the move in the image above (pull-ups using the coat hanger handles in the back seat of your car)
  • Running Shoes
  • Water

Warm-up: Try a 5 minute walk, jog (on the spot, around the car) or jumping jacks

Triceps: Open your trunk and face away from the car.  Do triceps dips on the lip of the trunk (making sure to keep the palms of your hands placed firmly on the lip of the trunk and fingers facing forward).

Chest: Push-ups either against the open car trunk lip or on the ground

Legs: Squats, Lunges (stationary or walking lunges around the vehicle), Step-ups onto the open trunk lip (only if you have good balance!)

Abs: Sitting on the open lip of the trunk and your hands placed firmly on both sides, fully extend your legs, hold them in place for as long as you can, then contract your legs and repeat.

Biceps: Bicep curls using the containers of cat litter OR if you’re really ambitious, inside your car position yourself in the middle of your car and do pull-ups using the coat hangers in your rear seats like in the above image which will work your chest as well.

Think you’re going to look ridiculous doing those things? All I’m going to say is “Suck it Up Princess! And Just Do it!”

People do Tai Chi in the park all the time. Do they look stupid?..

Ahem…no comment

I digress.

If you find yourself struggling with devising an exercise routine or keeping motivated while you’re on the road, and don’t have a personal trainer to assist you, you should look into companies such as Business Travel Life, which is founded by fitness enthusiast, consultant and former road warrior Kristina Portillo.  Business Travel Life can provide you with workouts customized to meet your unique fitness goals while accommodating your travel schedule.  They will even provide personal training via video conferencing which you can do from the comfort of your hotel room. It is an excellent service that I would highly recommend if you are the type of person that needs that extra “push” to stick to your fitness goals.

If you enjoyed these tips, you may aIso be interested in a guidebook I am currently working on, “A Road Warriors Guide to Eating Healthy and Keeping Fit on the Road” which I hope to have available in print within the next year.  Be sure to subscribe to my blog be notified when it becomes available, as well as for new travel and sales tips which are posted every Thursday.

In the meantime my fellow road warriors, “Keep fit and have fun!”.

TSW

p.s. I hope at least one person got that reference!

Please follow and like The Travelling Saleswoman:
0

Excuses I’ve Used to Try and Get Out of Traffic Tickets

Some are good, some are bad but most are just plain stupid!

A beautiful young woman sitting in the drivers seat of her car, holds up her hands and shrugs with hopelessness as a police officer stands outside her vehicle writing her a moving violation ticket.

If you drive a vehicle, surely you must have gotten at least one traffic ticket in your life.  If you’re a road warrior like me, you’ve most likely have had more than your fair share.  The odds are against us. After all, we make a living on the road and when we aren’t in meetings or in the office,  we are most likely to be driving around rushing to our next meeting , driving in unfamiliar areas and scrambling to find parking.  It’s only inevitable that we have slip-ups from time to time.

Traffic laws are in place for a reason.  Aside from the obvious safety risks of breaking those laws, if you have too many speeding or traffic tickets, you will end up paying an arm and a leg for insurance. If you’re really bad, you may even risk losing your driver’s license.  If you make a career out of being a road warrior and you lose your license, your career is over, unless you happen to be wealthy enough to hire a private driver!

I really make an honest effort to drive within the speed limit and park legally but sometimes, I slip up and make mistakes. Nobody is perfect and I am certainly no exception.  I’d like to make note that these excuses I have used to try and get out of traffic tickets are for entertainment purposes only. I do not condone or promote breaking any laws.

Below is a list of some of the best and worst excuses I’ve used to try and get out of traffic tickets.

My Most Successful Attempts:

BEST EXCUSE “I spilled hot coffee on my left leg.”

coffee-pants

Charge: Speeding 92km/hr in 50km/hr zone

Circumstance: He caught me right where the speed limit dropped from 80km/hr to 50km/hr.  I realized I didn’t slow down in time.  I was also studying withdrawal reflexes in my neuroscience class at the time and it suddenly dawned on me that I’d “spill” hot coffee on my left leg which would make me withdraw that leg and extend my right leg (on the gas pedal) as a reflex.  I was only a few minutes from a coffee shop, so it could have legitimately happened.  Not that I tend to stereotype, but I was certain that most police officers would have at least once spilled hot coffee on their lap and could sympathize.

Verdict: No ticket.  BUT I must point out that this  happened a few year years ago and I wouldn’t recommend using this excuse these days because you may end up with a careless driving charge!

BEST ATTEMPT: Officer: “How Fast Were You Going? TSW: “15km Over The Speed Limit” *wink wink*

80kmh sign

Charge: Speeding 117 in 80km/hr zone

Circumstance: I was driving home on a country road that I normally take home. I finished work early on a sunny Friday afternoon and was simply not paying attention to my speedometer.  When the officer asked me how fast I thought I was going, I realized what he probably clocked me at but I smiled and said “95km/hour?”.

Verdict: Reduced Ticket for 95km/hr in 80km/hr zone (no demerits). I’m confident this excuse only worked because my driving record for the past 6 years was completely clean, so I thought I had a chance.

WEAK ATTEMPT “I’m from Ontario (in Quebec)”

xcusssme licenseplate

Charge: Driving the wrong way on a one way street…twice.

Circumstance: I was in Quebec, the French only speaking province in Canada.  I couldn’t figure out how to get out of this network of streets except to turn around and go the wrong way.  I pleaded ignorance. He even caught me doing it a second time!

Verdict: No charge. Pfewf!

RISKY ATTEMPT: “But I Signaled (when I passed you and cut you off on the highway)” *BIG SMILE*

Turn_signals_5

Charge: Speeding 131km/hr in a 100km/hr zone

Circumstance: Passing an unmarked police cruiser on the highway and cut him off.  I had nothing to say except smile and say “I signaled!”

Verdict: Reduced to 115km/hr (no demerits). That was pure luck!

My Least Successful Attempts:

DISHONEST ATTEMPT: “Somebody Was Following Me”

carfollowing

Charge: Speeding 72km/h in a 50km/hr zone

Circumstance: I was driving faster but slammed on my brakes when I saw the police car. He was obviously aware of this.

Verdict: Guilty as charged.  The police officer screamed at me saying “What are you trying to do? Kill some kids??” I dind’t realize it was a school zone.  Bad, bad me!

DUMB BLONDE ATTEMPT:That’s the distance from my destination? I thought it was my speed. Oh, and can I borrow your flashlight officer?”

gps

Charge: Speeding 131km/hr in 100km/hr zone (4 demerits)

Circumstance: I was driving from Toronto to Montreal at night which is normally about a 6 hour drive.  There is a particular stretch near the town of Cornwall which is notorious for its speed traps. After I passed this town, I stopped paying attention to my speed and was focusing on how soon I’d be at my destination.  I must have been going about 135 km/hr when I realized I drove past a police cruiser (black SUV) parked in the middle of the dark highway.  He pulled out behind me but didn’t put his sirens on right away.  But eventually he caught up to me.  When he approached my vehicle and asked me how fast I was going, I said “My GPS says 115km/hr, oh wait, shoot that’s the distance from my destination!” I explained I was tired after working all day and it was late at night. He then questioned what time I left Toronto and wasn’t pleased with my answer. When he asked me for my insurance documents I couldn’t see in the dark with the flashing lights behind me, so I had to ask him to borrow his flashlight. When I handed over my documents, it turned out he was from the same town as me, so that was a nice coincidence.  When he asked what I did for a living, that  didn’t go over well.  Apparently telling the police you’re in sales, isn’t going to get you very far!

Verdict: Guilty on a lesser charge: 123km/hr in 100km/hr (3 demerits)

ANOTHER DUMB BLONDE ATTEMPT: “I didnd’t know what “RES” did but it made my car speed up just as I passed you!”

cruise-control-honda-the-car-expert

Charge: Speeding 137km/hr in 80km/hr zone (If I did this now I would have lost my license on the spot!)

Circumstance: New car. New button. Apparently it was set really high? This was my first speeding ticket.

Verdict: Guilty on a lesser charge: 117km/hr in a 100km/hr zone.  I took this one to court and had it reduced to 95km/hr (no demerits). This only happened because it was my very first ticket.

LAME ATTEMPT: “I was just going with the flow of traffic.”

carsfast

Charge: Speeding 65km/hr in 50km/hr zone (no demerits)

Circumstance: This cop pulled 10 of us over at the same time.  He just waved us into a driveway and gave us all a ticket. When I asked to see the radar gun, he started to yell at me for not pulling over immediately and threatened to give me ticket for evading a police officer. I told him he pulled over too many of us and there was nowhere else to park. I wasn’t going to park in somebody’s driveway or in front of a fire hydrant, so I parked a little further away.

Verdict: Guilty.  He obviously had a quota to meet that day and since the ticket wasn’t even for demerits, I didn’t bother fighting it.

I CAN’T BE BOTHERED TO MAKE UP AN EXCUSE ATTEMPT: “I don’t know”

Talking-to-Police-Officer

Charge: Speeding

Circumstance: I’m ticked off that I got pulled over and don’t have the patience to bother making up an excuse.

Verdict: Variable ranging from being let off entirely to getting slapped with the full charge.

STUPID ATTEMPT THAT NEVER WORKS: “I’m late for work.”

man-pointing-at-watch-3-25-11

Charge: Speeding (don’t recall)

Circumstance: Obvious.

Verdict: Guilty every time! That’s a LOUSY excuse!

 

 

So there you go folks. Those are some of the excuses I’ve used over the years. I never said they were successful! Fortunately (and thanks to my good behavior), I haven’t had any run ins with the traffic police in a few years now.

Let the take home message be to drive safe my friends and follow the speed limit so you can stay on the road and sell, sell, sell!

Cheers,

TSW

Please follow and like The Travelling Saleswoman:
0

When To Fire A Client

Whether you’re in sales or own your own business, making the decision to fire a client may be one of the most difficult decisions you will have to make in your career.  After all, you’ve worked so hard to get the business, so why throw it away?

Well, in some cases, you may actually be losing revenue by continuing to service certain clients.  Whether it is the actual time or the energy that you invest into an account, it all adds up.  Your time and effort are worth money. If you find yourself calculating how much time you’ve invested in an account and don’t see a proportional financial return on your investment in that client, it may time to cut them loose!

The best clients are those who bring in the most revenue with minimal effort and not vice versa.  Sure there are always circumstances where you initially have to invest a lot of time and effort to get a client on board , however you have to make the call as to whether or not it is worthwhile for you to continuing to focus on that client or move on to a potentially more lucrative opportunity.

So how do you decide when to put your foot down and decide when enough is enough?

You may opt to fire your client if they:

  1. Don’t Pay their Bills

Ever heard the notorious “The cheque is in the mail”? It’s almost laughable.  Once a client’s account gets seriously behind, you have to cut them off. If they really need your product or service, they will come up with the money.

Solution: The best thing to do in this scenario is to put their account on hold and try to arrange a payment schedule. If you have to call on them in person to collect, do it.   When their account is paid in full, begin to service them again but require that pay upfront or at the time of their order. In very rare circumstances, clients may completely avoid you and in that case you have no choice but to send them to collections.

  1. Ask or Expect You to Cross any Professional or Ethical Boundaries

This could take on a variety of shapes and forms. For example, any client who asks you to do something illegal, break your company policy, lie, cheat, steal, provide sexual favours or anything else unethical in exchange for a sale.

Solution: DON’T DO IT! WALK AWAY IMMEDIATELY! Then report their behavior to your direct supervisor and explain why you will no longer have anything to do with that account. If you are a business owner, simply inform them that you do not conduct business in that manner and they will have to do business elsewhere.  If you give into these requests it may seriously harm your business, your reputation and your company’s reputation.

  1. Complain Incessantly

Every one of you reading this has encountered this sort. No matter how perfect your product or service is, they will find something wrong with it and repeatedly so.  Sure everyone makes mistakes sometimes, but when there are no mistakes made and clients routinely fuss about every little thing time and time again, it may just not be worth the aggravation in dealing with these people.  They will never be happy.

Solution: If you’re totally fed up with them, you can try referring them to your competition however in my experience that doesn’t usually work.  In spite of how apparently disappointed they are with your product or service, they’d prefer to stick around and annoy you.  If that’s the case, just ignore their fussing. Don’t feed the monster.

  1. Use You

These type of clients will drain you of all of your knowledge and resources and push you to your limit because they know you want to make the sale.  It is difficult to identify these types of clients in the early stages because quite often a client will “test you” before they decide to do business with you.  This is perfectly normal and acceptable.  If someone is serious about engaging in a long term business relationship with you and your company, they should do their due diligence and see what you and your company are all about and what kind of service you can provide.  What is not acceptable is if this “testing” behavior persists over many sales calls and they don’t give you the business.

Solution: I call them on it and say outright “Every time I see you, I provide you with a wealth of product and industry knowledge but I know you still buy mostly from my competitor.”. They usually agree and then wonder why they do so. At that point I give them an ultimatum, “If you want the knowledge and you want me to keep coming back, you have to give me the business.  Otherwise, I’m never calling on you again because I will be focusing on other clients who will actually do business with me (who happen to be your competitors). Going forward you can ask my competitor to help you with your questions.” That usually solidifies the business 99% of the time. If it doesn’t, walk away.

  1. Take Advantage of Loopholes and Con You

Ever had a client buy a promo only to return part of it so that they can get a lower volume of product at the promo price and your company didn’t figure out how to deal with that loophole?  Or buy enough product to get free shipping only to return what they didn’t actually need but rather tacked on to their order so they don’t pay freight? Or try to get credit for the same item repeatedly? There are a million examples!

Solution: Since these types usually think they are quite clever, you have to call them on it and not allow them to get away with it again.  You’ll typically be greeted with a smirk and an “I’m better than you“ attitude.  Whatever it is they conned you out of, make sure you find a way to put it on their next invoice.  If they refuse to pay, refuse to offer them product or service. Some people you just have to play hardball with.

  1. Are in Bed With the Competition

Unbeknownst to you, you may end up meeting with a client who has very close ties with your competition.  By close ties I mean a business associate, investor, family member or perhaps someone who literally does share a bed with them, not simply someone who is loyal to a company.

Solution: Once you discover this STAY AWAY!  They will funnel all of your information directly to your competitor and give them an edge on you.  They won’t buy from you and if they do, it’s only to give your product to the competition.

  1. Waste Your Time

Sometimes it’s difficult to distinguish between someone who has a very extensive decision making process  and who is legitimately interested in purchasing compared to someone who has nothing better to do and just wants to play games with you. Some people will even fake a deadline for when they have to purchase when they don’t have any intention of purchasing period.

Solution: Give them a deadline to purchase.  Let them know that after that date, you will be moving on and changing your focus to another product, service or clientele.  This will usually force the client to be upfront about their true intentions.

  1. Disrespect You

You may encounter a client who never listens to you because they know better. They may think they are superior to you in every way and do not respect you or your time.  These types of clients are likely to be a no-show for your meetings, repeatedly.

Solution: If this type of client behaves this way consistently and does not give you any business, move on.  I usually give it 5 attempts then move on to other prospects.  Why so many? You have to give people the benefit of the doubt.  They may be legitimately busy or preoccupied and you might not be calling on them at the best of times.  I will usually try again after 1 year. Sometimes if you wait a while and call on a business at a later time, you might get lucky and they have a new decision maker who might be easier to work with or they may have had a bad experience with your competitor and are more open to change.

I am fortunate that in my business, 99.9% of my customers are awesome to deal with!  I sincerely hope that you don’t face any of these scenarios in your professional career but if you do, make sure to stand your ground because, the customer is NOT always right.

Happy sales my friends and don’t ever do anything you don’t feel comfortable with.

Cheers,

TSW

 

Please follow and like The Travelling Saleswoman:
0

My Most Awkward and Embarrassing Sales Calls

Have you ever been on a sales call and thought to yourself, “Wow! That was awkward!”? Or “Seriously, did that just happen?!?” and wondered how you were going to redeem your professionalism?

Certainly we have all been there.  Every day on the road is a new day full of surprises: Some good, some bad and some that are just plain awkward. After all, we are all human and well, $%!# happens! These are some of my most awkward and embarrassing moments on the road.

  1. Intruder! Intruder! I’m Calling the Police!

bank robberSince I call on mobile doctors, almost half of my sales calls take place at their home office which is usually in a rural area.  One time, I had arrived at this doctors’ house before he arrived. I knocked on the door and there was no answer.  So went back into my car and proceeded to call him on his cell to see if he was going arrive soon but he did not answer.  Meanwhile, unbeknownst to me, his wife was in the house and was in a complete panic.  She did not know I was coming and instead thought that I was some intruder who had been harassing her over the phone for the past few days.  She couldn’t see me in my car because I have tinted windows, so she assumed it was this “bad man”.  She frantically called her husband to say that she was calling the police because that “bad man” was at the house. Fortunately, she got ahold of him before she called the police and he told her that it was just little old me, the Travelling  Saleswoman who he was supposed to be meeting at the house.  He arrived shortly thereafter and informed me as to what was going on.  I met with him and his wife while she calmed down.  That sure made it hard to switch gears and focus on “selling”!

  1. Mixed Signals: The Handshake or The Kiss?

woman-rejecting-man-online-datingI had just finished a meeting with a client at a restaurant.  We walked outside into the parking lot and just as we were going to part our ways, I put my hand out for a handshake.  He went in for the handshake AND in for a face-plant of a kiss! Yikes!  I withdrew my head back so far that I lost my balance and because I was wearing heels on the icy pavement, I slipped backwards and fell flat on my ass.  I quickly got up and said goodbye and he scurried back to his vehicle.  How embarrassing! Needless to say, I never met with him again.  In my meetings that followed, I was asked about how I got my beautiful wool coat covered in salt and slush. I said I just slipped on the ice going back to my car. It wasn’t a total lie.

  1. Can You Drive Me To The Optometrist?

woman itchy eyesIt was a 3 hour drive to my first appointment of the day.  I was wearing contact lenses and my eyes were starting to feel very dry.  I had 5 minutes to spare so I stopped by a pharmacy and picked up some Visine (for red eyes), put the drops in and promptly hit the road again.  As I was driving, I noticed that my vision was slowly deteriorating.  Everything was getting really, really blurry.  I was getting quite worried but I knew that I was really close to the clinic so I continued on.  When I arrived at the clinic and met with my client, I could barely see.  I explained my situation to him and he told me (as if it was common knowledge) that Visine for red eyes is contraindicated with contact lenses because it can cause the lenses to melt on the cornea! I felt so embarrassed for not knowing that, especially because I have a background in pharmacology.  DUH!!! So I sucked up my pride and asked if someone could give me a ride to the nearest optometrist and fortunately he did.  Needless to say I didn’t do any “selling” on that call!

  1. The Jockey Swarm

horse jockeys

It was my first meeting with a veterinarian at a racetrack where I hadn’t been before.  I didn’t know exactly where the office was located in the backstretch, so I made sure to show up 10 minutes early.  In the backstretch, there must have been at least 50 jockeys.  I was immediately approached by several of them offering to help me find my way.  They led me all over the place saying things like “Oh, I think it’s right around the corner..”  and “I think he’s over here”.  They trotted me around like I was a horse getting ready to hit the track and we were going in circles.  I clearly stuck out like a sore thumb and felt as though I was walking through a boy’s locker room. Several of them came up to me asking “Are you the drug rep? Do you have samples???” to which I quickly replied, “No, I’m here to see the vet.  Where is the vets office?”.  After almost 15 minutes, one jockey FINALLY led me to the office which was literally steps away from where I had entered the main building.  DUH for me not noticing that!!!  At this point I was late for my meeting and had to explain that all of these jockeys led me astray.  I was a tad flustered by the time we actually sat down to do business!

  1. The Leg Wrestling Match Challenge

women_legwrestlingI was sitting in the waiting room of a clinic for an appointment with my client. The waiting room was quite busy and one of the doctor’s clients approached me and asked me who I was there to see.  I told her I had an appointment with Dr. D at 4pm. She threw her hands up into the air and said “Well, that’s too bad for you! I’ve been here all day and I am supposed to see Dr. D at 4pm!”, to which I replied, “This is Dr. D’s clinic, so she gets to decide who she sees first.”.  The lady didn’t like this answer so she says to me. “Screw that! How about we have a leg wrestling match and the winner gets to see her first?”.  I didn’t want to say anything too inappropriate. After all, I am a professional saleswoman right? But I couldn’t resist saying, “I’ve never had a leg wrestling match before, but lady, I’ve got really long legs so get prepared to lose!”.  At that point the doctor came out into the waiting room and said she would like to meet with me first.  I sure dodged that bullet! There definitely is a first time for everything!

  1. Countdown to Vomit Valley

HourglassAt a restaurant in YYC, I caught the Norwalk Virus.  By the time I arrived in Vancouver, I was getting quite ill. Fortunately the worst of it happened over the weekend so I didn’t have to cancel any of my appointments due to illness.  However when Monday came around I was still able to function in 1 hour bouts. It was like clockwork- precisely every hour almost on the dot, I would get sick. So I sucked it up and made it to all of my sales calls but forewarned my clients with, “Hi, I have the Norwalk virus so I won’t shake your hand.  I also only have exactly 30 minutes for our meeting because I will fall ill again and need to use the facilities in precisely 1 hour, so let’s get down to business!”  Such a lovely intro I know.  But I figured, I’d rather be honest and still be able to do my job.  My clients understood and it didn’t impact my business at all.  It just felt awkward to have to introduce myself along with the status of my gastrointestinal tract. Classy!

  1. The Match.com Déjà Vu

awkward faceAt one point I was regularly surfing Match.com.  For any of you who have ever used dating sites, you probably know that after a while you see the same faces over and over again.  So one day, I walk into a clinic where I had a meeting and I see a guy there who I’d seen several times on Match.com but who I never messaged. He had obviously recognized me as well since we both looked at each other and went “gulp”, as in “Oh God, please don’t say you saw me on Match.com!”. The doctor I was meeting with saw us exchange this awkward look in silence and asked bluntly, “Do you guys know each other?” to which we both quickly replied, “No, no”. At least my meeting wasn’t with him and he wasn’t a decision maker.  That would have been even more awkward!

  1. You’re Not My Rep, You’re the Service Tech

pink tool kitI had sold this clinic a piece of medical equipment.  Unfortunately, this device had so many problems and my company was unable to offer them a loaner or a repair service so I had no choice but to try and troubleshoot and fix it myself! As I mentioned previously, I have a pharmacology background, not one in engineering! However, using a little common sense, my little pink purse which held my tools and a voltmeter, I was able to fix it. I have to admit I was sweating profusely the entire time hoping I wasn’t going to break it!  But I didn’t.  I was quite proud of myself. The only lousy thing about it was whenever I had scheduled a sales call with the doctor, all of the staff just assumed I was the technical service rep and they took me away from the doctor to ask for help with the device! I tried time and time again to explain that I was actually the sales rep but all of that was to no avail.  I mean I always wore a suit- What tech service person shows up in a suit???? But to them, I was always, the service tech.*sigh*

Well I hope you enjoyed reading about my most awkward sales calls.  Fortunately I only have 8 in my 10 years on the road.  That’s not too shabby in my books.

I would love to hear from other sales reps about your awkward and embarrassing experiences on the road.

In the meantime, happy sales my friends and try to keep your cool, whatever happens.

 

TSW

Please follow and like The Travelling Saleswoman:
0