Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Sales - Worth More Than Money

I work in sales.

I think I have discussed the slightly pathetic ramifications of my insignificant role at a major telecommunications provider in previous essays, but in case it was not well known, I work in business sales. I call on a panoply of industries across the Chicagoland area. My clients range from downtown Chicago consulting firms who peer down on the world from steel girded high rises and demand three piece suits and flashy gadgets all the way to blue collar trucking companies who operate out of cigarette-smoke engulfed trailers on the south side, nestled under the jet fumes of Midway airport.

Most of the employees in my organization are focused on one singular element of their job - the money. That is the primary driver of any sales position. Reach the goals, exceed expectations, and go home with a monstrous commission check at the end of the month. Because of this mindset, most all of the motivational rhetoric in my professional world is centered around making as much money as is ethical and feasible. The passion is for the paycheck, and little else.

For me, working in telecommunications sales provides me with a different professional motivation. While I am focused on reaching my sales goals, as that is the definition of perfunctory job performance, what drives me as a professional sales person is more sociological than entrepreneurial. With the opportunity to meet and learn about dozens of different people, businesses, and industries every day, my passion comes from the knowledge that I am able to meet with and explore the inner workings of all these different organizations around the Chicago region. Once we move past the stock issues of what they hate about my company and what miniscule problems they have with the services we provide, we begin to discuss the more enveloped workings of their businesses structure, the problems they face, and what goals and strategies they value in order to continue pushing the organization to the next level. It is that conversation that makes my current job worth doing.

Economic Stagnation or Financial Boon?

Earlier this week I met with a company who manufactures twenty foot cast iron pipes for use in sewer systems by municipalities and contractors all across the continental United States. Half a decade ago, their business was booming. Residential housing construction was thriving, and every acre of farmland that was tilled for development into a shaded subdivision cutely named after a tree and a British principality meant exponential success for the company. But as they tend to do, the feast turned to famine with the economic recession that is facing us all. The glut of newly constructed homes meant no need for additional sewer lines, and the sturdy half century guarantee on their product meant that repeat business was not likely. The business closed one of their plants, laid off employees, and became leaner in order to weather the storm. The good news is that they are weathering, and will come out of this economic doldrums largely intact. The same cannot be said for other businesses so closely tied to the real estate industry.

Not a day later, I met with the owner of a small employment agency. The organization pairs out-of-work citizens with employers across several industries, ranging from manufacturing and logistics companies to clerical and office positions. While they rarely place people with advanced degrees and extremely technical proficiency, this agency helps average Americans find work by leveraging their connections with major employers and fledgling businesses. 

As you can imagine, business is booming. While many companies are downsizing, enough are continuing to hire that this temp agency has remained more than busy.

The recession, while devastating to some companies, is serendipitous to others. While companies such as this employment group hate to see our nation in the state it is in, they are more than happy to provide a well needed service during this time of dire straits.

Learning is Growing is Succeeding

Every day at work, I learn something new about the world in which I live. Whether through consciously seeking information or accidentally falling into a genuinely engrossing conversation, my role at this behemoth mobile communication company has allowed me to explore elements of our society in ways I've never before been privy. The more I understand about how the world operates, whether in spectacular generalizations or mundane anecdotes, the more I have succeeded.

Perspective gained is worth more money than any Sales Manager could ever promise.


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