Monday, August 24, 2015

The Plight of the Sales Mom

All of my life I was taught that marketing jobs, and the sales people who work them, are bad. They're after your money and you'd have to be a complete fool to get involved. I don't know if it's because my mom had a bad experience, or if it's because my mom is as gullible, naive, innocent, easy (whatever word you want to use) as me, and we get taken in at the drop of a hat. I don't know, but whatever it is, I PROMISED myself that I would never get taken in by these multi-level marketing corporations that promise quick money and don't deliver. I'm afraid that some of my paranoia about sales people brought some, perhaps, unnecessary rudeness on my part.

I managed a KFC after my husband and I got married. Two weeks after I started I was still new and hadn't gotten the feel for the flow of traffic in my tiny, rather remote store. There was a special going (one of those all dark meat buckets everyone loves) and I was working with a young man who wasn't quite motivated. At some point during the dinner rush a man and his wife ordered the special, was served and left again without my knowledge. They came through the front of the store and I'd been working drive-through that evening. With an hour left before we closed up, the couple returned. I didn't recognize them, but I could tell something was wrong. I asked the man if I could help him and it was like I'd set off a bomb. The man was in my face explaining in no uncertain terms that my team and I were incompetent, and that there was a special place reserved for us in hell. I was shocked. There were two other customers in the store and they were shocked. My unmotivated co-worker was nowhere to be found. You should just know that I went to a religious college, in a religious town where the crime reports included petty theft and the occasional accidental fire. I let the man vent for a minute and then asked him what had happened. He told me that in his 10 piece, dark meat bucket he had received a single chicken breast - white meat. He went on for another five minutes using vulgar language and generally disparaging me and my store, and then he slammed out the door. His poor wife was pale and shaking, and apologized a thousand times for her husband's behavior. I replaced their entire order and she left as well. I tried to help the next customer in line, but broke down in tears before I could finish. It had been a long day, and never in my life had I been spoken to like that man spoke to me. I saw the man in the bank a few months later and smiled at him. He literally ran in the other direction. I hope it was remorse for having flipped out over a piece of chicken.

You would think that after all of this I would have realized that sales people, in a store or not, are not evil, but I still hang up without a word to the telemarketers, and I still brush impertinently past the booth workers in the mall, as if giving them a moment of time or a polite response would somehow give them a chance to work their magic. Worst of all, I ignore completely the peppy messages from fellow mothers who are simply trying to provide some semblance of a living for their families by selling other companies' products.

Recently, in a mother's group I follow on Facebook, there was a degrading message about people selling things within the group. Generally it isn't allowed, and I've never had an issue with it, but apparently this woman had. I read four of the comments and could read no more. It was then that I had this ah-ha moment.

MOST sales people are NOT TRYING TO SCAM YOU. They do want your business, and it'd be great if you were interested, but what they want most is a way to scratch out a living from a really dry, dusty employment industry.

I know. There are reports all the time about bad businesses, and dishonest people who really are scamming people out of their money. But the sweet mom from your church group who stops by peddling ItWorks, or Mary Kay, or dare I say, Beachbody. They are not trying to hurt you. They are not trying to steal away your life savings. They are not trying to trick you. If you're not interested, just say "no, thank you". If they continue to press, calmly say again, "really, no thank you". Sales people, if they say "no" they say "no". Respect that. Lets just all be civil to each other.

A dear, sweet friend of mine once told me that in every interaction you have, you either improve or you destroy. Don't destroy that woman (or man). What's the point? Why is that absolutely necessary? A calm, simple negative answer is much more uplifting than screaming filth into a phone, slamming a door, or playing some sort of prank.

Anyway, thanks for reading. I hope it makes you think.

I also hope you'll forgive a particularly opinionated post on a blog branded for fashion.

**There are scammers out there. Do your research before you invest in something. Follow your instincts and be smart - not rude.**