I knew what my strengths and weaknesses were coming into this sales position. As a matter of fact, my weaknesses are the reasons why I was slightly afraid to persue a career in sales. Those weaknesses, you might ask?
Basically being sensitive and taking everything personally.
I think that may be the death of someone in sales - its not always a happy go lucky touchy feely position. I've done a great job so far, learning to separate the customers' anger and frustration from feelings directed at me - but its not always easy for me to make that separation. So, in times when I am unable to (for whatever reason) we end up in a situation like today. I talked to a customer (who didn't remember who I was - not shocking, I was warned people wouldn't associate me with the position for at least three meetings - so I'm not taking that personally) and had some important issues to discuss - and instead of being a smooth resolution of a small problem, it became a tirade on how my company is a big greedy monster that makes it difficult to accomplish what is in effect best for its most loyal customers.
There is truth to that statement - because of my company's size and breadth its often easier and more efficient to take the long way around of things as opposed to trying to fight the long giant red tape in order to get it done the "right" way. His response to my proposed solution was "If you need to disguise it or hide it in order to get it done, I'll play along". Ouch. I was able to continue the conversation professionally...but when I hung up the phone I just started bawling. Of course I called Pat because the big ol' mean customer made me cry, but after a few minutes I realized how silly it was.
I couldn't even really say why I was crying, but now in trying to analyze the situation I understand (I think) the reason - I mean, the reason besides the fact that my body is all hopped up on crazy, uncontrollable, pregnancy hormones. The customer's last comment I took personally, and the way he phrased it made it seem as if I was doing something less than ethical, or basically being a slimeball sales person. And if there is one thing I pride myself on, it is my ethics - and if there is one thing I despise its slimeball sales people. And I hate being thrown into that group. Its not the first time I've felt that, and I suppose it comes with the territory, but it still sucks. And I knew it would suck, but I'm doing my best to try to fight those stereotypes and not let it get to me. I think maybe being a woman, and being with child makes me a little more sensitive than most, but I'm learning how to cope and deal and take it with stride like all those seasoned vets out there.
On the flip side, I've got a great day planned tomorrow. Its the first day of the Crosstown Showdown (not as much panache as the Subway Series, is it?) and Pat and I are taking a customer into enemy territory (the customer's a Sox fan) for a nice lunch and a fabulous afternoon Spring Ball Game at Wrigley Field. I guess I'll be wearing my Sox hat.....or I could be completely non-commital and wear the Sox hat with a Cubs shirt :)