Monday, November 16, 2009

Death of a salesman

posted Mon, 06 Dec 2004

Oh man. I just had a voicemail from this ad salesman I used to have to work with when I was in marketing. Let’s call him “Todd.”

Todd was so icky. He was creepy in that nerdy, desperate way. The first time I met him, he was 45 minutes late. He didn’t even call me to tell me he would be late – or that he was on his way. He just showed up 45 minutes late. I was livid. Like I don’t have anything better to do at work than to sit around and wait for someone. Which I didn’t (sit around, I mean), but still.

If you are in sales, that is not a good way to impress a prospect.

Salesmen still call me. Dun & Bradstreet accidentally listed my phone number as the main number for all 100,000 employees of my company a few years ago, so anyone with old D&B data calls me asking to speak to the person “in charge of waste disposal services” or “in charge of IT purchasing.” I am still waiting for the D&B rep to send me a box of Godiva chocolate in apology. He thinks I’m joking. I’m not.

Then he tried to make it up to me by sending me chocolate, but he sent me a cheap brand, which is worse than sending nothing at all. If you aren’t going to send the good stuff, don’t send anything. Chocolate is like mattresses and shoes: price and quality are directly and highly correlated. If you aren’t paying much for it, you’re getting something lousy. You have to pay the good stuff.

After that, I refused to see Todd. He sent me his magazine’s rate sheet and gave me free subscriptions to his magazines – “Meat Marketing and Technology” and “Carnetec” – everything you’ve ever wanted to know about the meat processing industry in English and in Spanish!

It wasn’t a big a deal not to see him. My division didn’t – doesn’t – believe in advertising. We are a production company in a commodity industry. If we make it cheaply enough, we’ll make a profit. Marketing and advertising – why on earth would we waste money on anything stupid like that?

Then when my division hired a marketing director, my former boss, we actually did start advertising. Todd was relentless. He called and called. I ignored and ignored.

Then Todd called my boss. My boss ordered me to see him. I told my boss I wasn’t paid to waste time meeting with ad salesmen.

My boss informed me in no uncertain terms that oh yes I was paid to waste time meeting with ad salesmen.

So I sat through another incredibly useless meeting where Todd explained his rate sheet to me.

You’d have thought that Todd would have picked up on the fact that I was not falling all over myself to see him when he came to town. But no. He called me once and asked if I wanted to have dinner with him that evening! I wanted to say, “I don’t even want to see you when I am being paid to see you. Why on earth would I spend my personal time with you?”

When I left the marketing job, I left Todd behind me.

But he has found me! In this voicemail, he said that he needs to know whom to talk to now that my former boss is no longer with the company (after being unfairly fired). He also said that he and I could catch up! Yes! Because it’s been so long since we’ve spoken! We have so much to talk about! I can’t wait!

Argh. He left his number, but I’m not going to call him back. And I’m going to screen for his call. What I’ll do – if I feel nice later – is leave a voicemail at 9:00 tonight (so I can be sure I don’t actually get him in person) and give him the name of the new marketing director.

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