I was sort of half-right about how Hurricane Irene would be a big flop. It was a tropical storm by the time it got here, in fact even in North Carolina no official measuring stations ever reported hurricane-force winds, and even at its height early Sunday morning it never seemed all that ferocious. Even so, there were a lot of big trees down in the area, with some parts of Long Island left without power, though this occurred not because of very high winds, but because heavy rains this month had left the ground soft and made it easy for even fairly moderate winds to uproot trees. Oh, the other consequence is that original plans to work for a few hours on Saturday were canceled, even though the bad weather did not start until much later in the day. While I liked having the day off, I was less pleased about losing the chance to make some money after a fairly disappointing week.
Victim of storm hype
I knew all along that Hurricane Irene almost certainly would not be the Storm of the Century Armageddon that everyone predicted. If any Las Vegas oddsmakers were offering bets on whether the flooded streets would be filled with the bloated corpses of storm victims I’d gladly take the contrary bet. One of the many, many consequences of the cardinal rule of modern life – namely, that People Are Such Schmucks – is that we get a sublime thrill out of exaggerating minor risks.
Normally I’d just laugh at all this panty piddling paranoia, but unfortunately it had very real, very adverse consequences for me. It turned out that people who were living in dread of the Stormageddon had very little interest in hearing about the products and/or services that I sell. This translated into two days of very poor sales with consequent diminished income. I am not pleased with all the weatherpeople who overhyped the storm, nor with the idiot politicians who got their thrills from issuing dire warnings.
A continuation of the theme
Both of these days turned out quite similar to Monday. I had to go into the Nassau office each day, but then ended up working out in Suffolk County closer to home. More significantly, both days resulted in decent-but-not-outstanding sales, just like Monday. Obviously I would have preferred something better, but after last week’s dreadful performance anything is a major relief.
On further thought, the fact that I was able to sell anything on Wednesday is quite an accomplishment. I had a blinding, partially aspirin-resistant headache for much of the day, which did not merely hurt but which also left me completely enervated. Despite the pain the worst effects actually were mental rather than physical. It was very difficult for me to focus on my presentations to prospective customers. While I may have been able to come out with the correct words, practice makes perfect and all that, the way in which I delivered them was wholly lacking in enthusiasm and no doubt quite deficient. What added tremendously to my frustration was the fact that I knew full well I was doing a mediocre (at best) job but just couldn’t manage to do any better. All of this made the fact that I had at least some modest results quite the accomplishment.
Did it. I finally broke last week’s horrendous losing streak. Not that my results today were anything to write home about, “run of the mill” is about the best I could say, but after last week anything is a sign of progress. I found out in the morning that for the entire week we’ll be starting the day in the Nassau County office, which as I’ve noted is almost at the Queens line. As it isn’t necessary to report until 11, however, I can still get a pleasantly late start each morning. Even better, I’ll be working in Suffolk locations and will not have to return to the Nassau office at the end of the day, instead I can go straight home. Still makes for a lot of driving, however.
Today I was in a location not too far from where I live, and it was almost 2pm before I was done with the morning meetings and able to get to the location. Despite all this, I broke my losing streak in quick order. In fact, even with all the driving I almost made a trip to the gym in the evening, unfortunately a blinding headache made that impossible.
This was a weekend to recharge. After the dreadful end to last week I wasn’t in the mood to do anything much more than lie around the house and diddle around on the computer. Certainly no motivation to go to the gym, if I could even find it by this point.
The drowning man called. He wants somebody else to sell him a free life preserver.
I really don’t know what has happened. Tuesday’s highly informative and inspirational meeting should have given me a big boost. Instead, these three days have been absolutely wretched, apropos of the post title I couldn’t sell a free life preserver to a drowning man. Every time it looks like I have a potential sale in the making something goes wrong and I lose the customer. In this business, once the immediate impulse is gone the customer is gone for good. If he or she says “maybe I’ll hold off for a while” or “I’ll talk to you next time I’m in [this sales location]” not even the most skilled salesperson in the world can salvage the deal. And trust me, I’ve been hearing these words way too often.
I’m hoping against hope that things turn around soon.
Hey, what happened to the free food?
Monday was a moderate letdown from Sunday. While my sales were about the same, it took me seven hours to achieve the same results as three hours on Sunday. I’m not actually surprised, as in this particular line of work, Mondays tend to be relatively slow. Not to mention the fact that people are often in rather choleric moods on Mondays. As for Tuesday, it wasn’t a selling day, as I spent much of the day at a conference, held at a fairly upscale hotel in Nassau County. The good news: I learned a lot of really useful stuff, much more than at any of the conference I had attended while in the insurance industry. The bad news: no free food.
Didn’t work on Saturday, but Sunday I put in a few hours’ work at a relatively nearby location. We normally have Sundays off, but because next Tuesday will be taken up by a conference my manager suggested that we put in a few hours on Sunday so the week’s sales won’t be as low as they’d otherwise be. To my mild surprise, I did fairly well on Sunday, getting the week off to a good start (in sales terms our weeks run Sunday-Saturday). Not that I want to make a regular thing about working on Sundays, but today I really didn’t mind.
Down, up, down
This sequence pretty closely describes my sales success (or lack thereof) for these three days. Wednesday I spent working with one of the Nassau County people, though at a sales location here in Suffolk. I started out with high expectations as this location has been quite successful for me. Alas, that proved not to be the case, as I didn’t do well at all. There were a variety of possible reasons, though one big one is that the location simply wasn’t busy enough to accommodate two people. On Thursday, I worked solo, this time at a much quieter location that I feared wouldn’t be enough for one person. As things turned out, I did very well. Two of the sales were particularly rewarding because I had to overcome stiff resistance in order to get the customers on board.
Friday? I worked with another Nassau County person, this time in a Nassau location. My results were, well, hideous. It was most definitely not a good end to the week. At least next week will be a new start.
Of all absurd things …
One thing about working on a commission basis is that missing time means losing money. For that reason, people in my line of work tend to drag themselves in when they’re under the weather, in circumstances that would lead salaried workers to call in. Sometimes, however, one has no choice but to stay out. This became all too apparent to me this morning, as I was eating a bagel while driving into work. A sudden crunch sound made it immediately obvious that something highly undesirable of a dental nature had occurred. In fact, it was just about the worst thing that could have happened – a tooth broke off a partial dental plate, and it just so happened to be a front upper tooth. In other words, I was left gap-toothed, in a way that made me look like a hockey player and, furthermore, would make it impossible for me to deal with people at work. Customers probably would run the other way upon seeing me.
After making arrangements to stay out of work, I called my dentist when the office opened at 1 pm, only to get some unwelcome news. The broken partial plate would have to go to the lab for repairs, and that could not happen until Tuesday morning. As the repairs would take several hours, I wouldn’t be able to pick up the prosthesis until Tuesday afternoon, probably eliminating any chance to work that day. Great. Now I was looking at two days without the chance to earn any money.
I went to the dentist’s office first thing Tuesday morning, and to my relief found out that the repair could be completed by early afternoon. Of course things always take longer than predicted, but I was able to start work in mid-afternoon, so the day wasn’t a total bust. Granted, my part-day sales efforts weren’t as successful as I had hoped, but at least I made an effort.