Monday, June 29, 2015

The Soundtrack of My Life, A Good Time to Assume

I don't normally comment on "stat stuff," but I noticed that this is my 800th post on this blog. Can you believe it???




This is still the summer of 1988 and I'm still selling books door-to-door in Colorado. This was a revelatory sort of job for me, though I wouldn't understand the ramifications for years.

So, there were reasons I was successful at this door-to-door sales thing, and they were thus:

I memorized well and could deliver  the presentation conversationally, AND when I made my pitch I sold the whole set. I never broke it up because if they were going to buy, they would buy it ALL.  

I am not going to bore you with every sale I made ~ heck I can't remember every sale I made.

I vividly remember going up to this blue house on a cul de sac (would you believe that I can still picture this house but I can't remember some of the names of my good friends ~ egads) and the mother of the household answering. It was a Saturday (prime day). I gave her my get in the door pitch and she responded like this, "I would love to look at your books but my husband is TOO CHEAP (this thrown over the shoulder in a very loud voice for the said husband's benefit)! He is SO CHEAP that he does things like this.." At this precise moment her two children come out the front door carrying their bikes. "He makes our children carry their bikes out the door because he doesn't like the wear and tear on the garage door opener." Again, all of this was not directed to me, but to the invisible husband.

I backed up fast and said something like, "Well, this isn't a good time. I will come back later."  I hastily got out of Dodge and made a notation in my notebook.

That isn't the end of this story.   

I was back in this same neighborhood trying to eliminate everyone from my list as either buyers or not.  I found myself back on that same cul de sac, and that blue house was the only one that hadn't gone one way or the other.  I was having a Terrible Day and decided to nail the lid on the coffin by going back to that blue house. The husband answered the door, the wife wasn't home, and I honestly never expected to make it off the porch. Wonder of wonders.... I got in.  Normally, I wouldn't go into a home where just the husband was there, but the kids were in a room that was visible from the kitchen, and I felt okay with it.  He was nice.  However, I was still caught up in the Bike Incident of that Saturday and Intimidated.  I was so convinced that he WASN'T GOING TO BUY that I only showed him three books out of the set.  I departed from my usual pitch, because I made the decision for him about what he would and would not buy.  I was trying to minimize my time investment in the call.  Big mistake.  Huge.  I got done and he never even gave me a closing argument.  All he said was, "Do you take a credit card?"  

Holy crap.  Yes, I did.  And while he was getting his wallet I was mentally kicking myself down the street.  Never ever assume what your buyer will buy.  In fact, go into every sale assuming that they will buy.  You assume it and more often than not... they do.

Only later would I look back on this very successful summer at door-to-door sales and understand that sales is my Ideal Career Path.  If you can make money in door-to-door sales, which is the toughest gig  going, commission sales on consumable goods is a cakewalk .  

Not everyone in our group, but some... (click to enlarge)

Now, I don't have a song to go with this story, though it's a darn good story. However, I do have one more song that I think of when I think of that summer. My father said that the song Baby Blue came out that summer I was in Colorado, and whenever he heard it he thought of me. The way he said it I think it was kind of sad for him. That was not so long after he and my mom divorced, and instead of coming home I opted out entirely to move across the country to sell books. And then it was pretty much straight back to college. I spent very little time "at home," and he probably thought I was pretty much all but gone.

This one's for you, Dad!



Did you have a job that you thought was just a summer job or short-term job, but ending up pointing you towards your ultimate Career Path?  Or a job that you learned a lot of Life Lessons from even if you didn't stay in it forever? Is there a song that one of your parents thought of as "your song?"


If you're enjoying these posts, feel free to share your own Soundtrack. This isn't a hop. No requirements at all, but a suggestion to do it one song at a time. (If you participated in the hop several years ago, you can still do this. Just post them one song at a time, with the freedom to add more songs if you'd like.) I'll link to all participants at the bottom of each of these posts:

StMcC Presents BATTLE OF THE BANDS

Cherdo on the Flipside 

Holli's Hoots and Hollers 

THE DOGLADY'S DEN

37 comments:

  1. That is a great story about the cheap husband. I have one of those myself. LOL I suck at sales. Even in all of my volunteer work today, whenever there is a sales requirement, I just buy the stuff so I don't have to actually sell anything to anybody.

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    1. Well, I hope you LIKE what you're selling!

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  2. What great lessons to take away from that story, nice of you to share.

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    1. It's really just a lesson about assumptions, which can be applied to sales or just life.

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  3. You're right, you just never know who is going to buy and who isn't. Funny, I guess he wasn't cheap when it came to himself.

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    1. The books were for his kids. So, I think it's more about what was important to him. I'd say his kids having bikes: important. The garage door going up and down: important. Being able to help the kids with their homework: important. He was a very nice guy in person. Intelligent. And reasonable. I suspect that his wife might be a bit difficult to live with, however.

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  4. Hey, I'm not a big country fan, but I do love George Strait. Even went to one of his concerts and it was awesome. 'The Ones the Wolves Pull Down' by Garth Brooks came out when my father was dying slowly of cancer. It was the exact sad emotion for that time and still can't hear it without crying.
    Susan Says

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    1. I've seen George Strait in concert, too. That man is a legend.

      Yeah, that song would make me cry, too. Timing is everything.

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  5. I wouldn't be good at sales, though I was a good sales clerk in moderate sportswear at Macy's. Nothing has ever led me to anything.

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. Many people don't want to be in sales. It's certainly not for everyone!

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  6. Hi, dear Robin! Congratulations on reaching 800 posts. That's a lot of daily doses. Based on my training and experience in sales and on your own 20-20 hindsight, it seems like you should have realized that a sale was imminent the moment that man invited you through the door and into his house. It is amazing how often we defeat ourselves through "stinkin' thinkin'" and how we sometimes luck out and win in spite of having a negative mindset. To answer one of your questions, the only one that pertains to me, I learned through that catalog showroom sales job that you are mainly selling yourself, not so much the product or service. People who like you will buy what you're selling. People who don't like you won't. It's the same way in the wonderful world of blogging.

    Thank you for another interesting story, dear friend. I am sold on you.

    P.S. - I am out of town until late Wednesday, living out of a suitcase with numerous obligations and distractions. Please understand if I am late getting to your band battle on Wednesday. I might not have time to visit until Thursday. Okay?

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    1. First, you are so right about sales and the "buying of you." If someone doesn't like you, they won't buy anything you're selling. You could be selling twenty dollar bills for five bucks and they'd say, "No thanks!" That's just the nature of the human beast!

      As for the traveling... I'm going to be traveling the entire month of July and well into August. Three weeks of that will be at camp and thoroughly unplugged from the internet. When my battle goes live on the 1st I'm going to be traveling from FL to OH. We're planning on breaking it into two days, so I'll be on the road the next day, too. Then, we'll be at my brother and sister-in-law's house over the 4th of July weekend. I know they have lots of things planned. I'm going to have difficulty keeping up with blogging and battles the entire month of July and some of August. So, no worries.

      If I miss your posts during this time, don't sweat it. I'm just traveling.

      Delete
  7. Congrats on 800 posts! I don't think I could ever do the door to door sales thing. You have to be pretty brave!

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    1. Well, a lot of people did quit...

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  8. This is why I'd never be a salesman. Instead of assuming the sale, I'd be saying, "Why on earth would anyone buy this stuff?"

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    1. In order for me to sell something I have to believe in the inherent value of what I'm selling. That was true in this job, but remained true in future sales jobs.

      Delete
  9. Hi Robin,

    I do apologise for my lack of commenting as of late. I'm still struggling so please bear with me. Thank you.

    I reckon that husband was swayed by your pleasant demeanour and your sincere belief in what you were selling.

    Congrats on post 800, my lovely friend.

    Gary :)

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    1. No worries, Gary. I hope things improve for you soon.

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  10. It takes a special person like you to have successful with door-to-door sales. I couldn't do it.

    That's a fun photo, and it reminds me of the TV show Friends.

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  11. What a great story and just shows that you never gave up either. I never had a job I left that I learned from..OK that doesn't sound quite right. I grew up on the family business which was the sawmill and learned there. Aside from one day at Marineland and 3 weeks as a waitress(ughhh), my next job became my calling which is what I still do-a Credit Counsellor. I have learned so much from this job and continue to do so. My mom always thinks of me when she hears the song "To Dream the Impossible Dream." I think that is quite nice

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    1. That is quite nice.

      It's a great thing to find your niche and be good at it. :)

      Delete
  12. >>... Never ever assume what your buyer will buy.

    Right! And never assume what your reader will like...

    When I first saw this blog bit, I skimmed and thought: There's not a lot of text so it's probably not A-List. I will return later to read it.

    Turns out, this is one of my very favorite of your TSOML blog bits..

    I totally understand how a "blue house" might stick in your mind. Sometimes I am AMAZED at the little details I remember, but the much bigger picture has been forgotten.

    >>... "At this precise moment her two children come out the front door carrying their bikes. "He makes our children carry their bikes out the door because he doesn't like the wear and tear on the garage door opener."

    Honestly, that makes TOTAL-FRIGGIN'-SENSE! I understand the guy COMPLETELY. (Women always assume the worst about us.) Garage Doors are NOT cheap to repair, and EVERY TIME you use the Garage Door opener, the mechanisms deteriorate a little bit more.

    On the other hand, the hinges on a normal door don't experience much stress when they are operated, and even when they break down (which rarely happens) they are a helluva lot easier and cheaper to repair than is an automatic garage door opener!!!

    The husband was using his brain (and obviously wasn't inherently "cheap"), while his wife assumed the worst about him but had no understanding of the mechanics of the "real world".

    ...And some people wonder why I've never married after 55 years. Sheesh!

    The George Strait song was good, and I can sure understand why your Pa thought of you every time he heard it.

    I was about to tell you a hilarious story from Waylon Jennings' autobiography about how he once had to tie-up George while George was in a drunken stupor. (George was known as the hardest-drinking man in Country music.) But in double-checking my facts before commenting, I found that it was George Jones - not George Strait - whom Waylon had to tie-up.

    Regardless, you SHOULD read The Country Outlaw's (Waylon's) autobiography, because it's simply great. And being a Country Music fan to begin with, you'll find it Double-Great.

    ~ D-FensDogG
    'Loyal American Underground'

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    1. It's funny that you splain this so succinctly. I guess people would figure this out as they read the blog bit. The husband wasn't cheap. He was willing to spend money in places/ways that made sense to him. What was very clear to me after this incident 1) The wife didn't understand him at all, and 2) It was very mean of her to call her husband "cheap" and try to bully him with a stranger at the front door (to make him feel bad) because she was ticked with him about something he likely wasn't willing to invest in. I kinda suspect those two are no longer married. Or, if they are, they are rather miserable together.

      It was more life lessons. Don't assume the sale. Don't assume that the viewpoint of one person is the Truth. It's just their Opinion.

      I will make a point of adding that book to my Library List. Thanks!

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  13. Good for you for getting a purchase from the cheap husband....LOL!

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    1. He wasn't "cheap". He was "practical".
      Look it up at Dictionary.com.
      [http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/practical?s=t]

      ~ D-FensDogG

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    2. Yeah, I probably should've edited this one to make my opinion about the Door Incident a bit clearer. The wife calling him cheap didn't make him cheap (as his willingness to buy books to help his kids in school later proved).

      Delete
  14. Congratulations on your 800th post - that's a biggie!!! Loved your story. I once sold Christmas cards door to door - lots of fun and success, but in today's time it would be a different story.

    I remember this song by George Strait. How wonderful your Dad thought of you when he heard it. I can understand why.

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    1. Have you noticed that when kids get fundraisers at school they no longer peddle their goods door-to-door? I can't remember the last time a neighborhood kid knocked on my door trying to sell something.

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  15. This wasn't necessarily a summer job, but I did have an incident where my career path abruptly changed. I used to tour (perform, sing, dance) for military installations, etc., on the East coast yearly. When we were asked to do the Shriners Hospitals, it made a huge impact on me. I left home intent on being a teacher and came home with a clear desire to be a nurse - just like that.

    Years later, I quite nursing to homeschool my sons and started a cooperative where I teach all the time. I've had the best of both worlds.

    Parents have a song for me? Nawwwww. My mom has a saying for me, though. She will say, "I've always said 'my God, that girl has guts.' " If you choose your own path enough times, you start to look gutsy, I suppose. :-)

    You have been given an award on my blog today! Stop by and check it out when you can and congrats!

    http://www.cherdoontheflipside.com/2015/06/creative-blogger-award.html

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    1. I am so behind on blogging. Reading, commenting, etc. It's the 4th and I'm just getting to the comments on this one. I guess that's what traveling for a few days and then visiting for a day will do for ya.

      I guess you have had the best of both worlds. Actually, 3 worlds. That performing sounded pretty darn cool, too. I think it's amazing when people just know what they want to do and make that career path happen. It's so much easier than being kinda good at a lot of things, but not great at anything, and not exactly excited to commit to any one job forever and ever Amen.

      You're a gutsy girl. Remember this moment, because it will come back around many years later in a Soundtrack post... and you'll think of this again.

      I will check out the award. Thank you!!!

      Delete
  16. Oh girlie you cant go wrong with King George!! He is so awesome and I've seen him a few times over the years. Good ol Texas boy. :)
    800th post- that's awesome!! Congrats.
    Good for you for at least getting a sale regardless if it wasn't the whole set. I hate it when people "fight" or put down their spouses in front of others. It makes it very awkward for everyone. Poor guy!

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    1. I really like George Strait, too. He has a wonderful voice, and everything I've heard about him as a person has been stellar. Just a great guy.

      Yes, I hate it when people put down their spouses, too. Awkward is right.

      Delete
  17. I hate selling shit. Instead of thinking of it as selling shit, I think of it as helping people acquire moments to remember.

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  18. GEORGE!!!! I love George Strait! Not a big country music fan but him, I do love! I worked in a department store part time for years while I went to college full time. Saw more than I wanted to and my innocent 19 year old self, learned quickly to have a thick skin. I think I stayed working there, as much as I hated it, because I love talking and meeting new people. And my customers allowed me to do that.

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    1. There is almost always something to love (or learn from) in any job.

      I love George Strait too!

      Delete

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