Selling – Not My Cup of Tea

I am a pretty private person and I don’t share my personal information with too many people.  I suppose that is the main reason that I was so reluctant to sign up for a Facebook account.  However, my best friend, Lynn talked me into it.  You see, she was playing this game called Farmville and she needed more neighbors.  So she convinced me that Facebook could be as private as you wanted it to be, and that if I played Farmville, I wouldn’t have to do anything.  So, I created a Facebook account and signed up to play Farmville.  At first I didn’t get on Facebook too much and didn’t really play Farmville very much, and many times I started to delete my Facebook account.  But then I started going to Farmville once a day and started planting and harvesting crops.  I started out with one neighbor then I had five.  Needless to say, there was very little activity on my wall.  I believe it was around the first of November and, if you were lucky playing Farmville, a Clumsy Reindeer would show up on your farm.  However, you couldn’t keep it, but you could post it and one of your neighbors could get it.  Well, I was damned determined to get one of those reindeer, but in order to have a better chance of getting one, I needed more neighbors.  I went the fans only discussion board and found several people to add as my neighbors so I would have more activity on my wall.  Although I didn’t even invite nor accept my real life friends, I was never hesitant about inviting or accepting people I had never met before.  As I think back on it, I’m glad I decided to join the Facebook world because I have made friends with people from all over.  Some are very interesting, some are very intelligent, some are very witty and some are just too damn funny and keep me laughing.

Anyway, I was chatting with Karen, one of my Facebook friends, last night and she was telling me she had been in sales for several years.  I told Karen that is one job I don’t think I would ever want because, in my opinion, you have to be very nice, very patient and have a very good personality to be good in sales.   I am pretty nice and I have a good sense of humor, but my patience runs very thin.  I am an accountant and I know that customers are the driving force behind every successful business, but I leave the selling part to others.  However, I have had my share of dealings with customers because I was the credit manager at my last job.  Being the credit manager, I made the decisions to offer open terms to customers and decisions to place in-house orders on hold due to customers’ late payments.  I could also change a customer’s credit terms if they needed to be changed.  So, believe me, I have had some lengthy conversations with customers.

I remember once I placed a customer on credit hold because they were late paying their bill.  I called the customer three days in a row to let them know that their in-house order was on credit hold, but I kept getting their voice mail.  Each time, I left a very detailed message explaining who I was, why I was calling and saying that we could not produce any new orders for them until their overdue balance was paid.  And, each time, I ended the message by letting them know that our lead time was seven days, so if they needed the order, they should contact me immediately.  After my third unsuccessful attempt to contact this particular customer, I buzzed the sales person and told them that I had not heard anything from the customer.  I told the sales person not process the order until further notice.  So the sales person sat on the order waiting for me to approve it before they entered it into the computer.  A week went by with no word from the customer.  The following Friday afternoon the sales person buzzed my office.  She said, “CJ, you know that order you told me not to enter?”  I said, “Yes.  I still have not heard anything from them, have you?”  She said, “Well, the woman is on the phone right now and she is madder than hell because we haven’t shipped her order.  I tried to explain, but…Can you talk to her?”  I said, “Sure.  What line is she on?  Line five, okay.”

I pulled the customer’s account up on the computer and picked up line five and said, “Hello, this is C” and before I could get the J out, the lady on the other end of the phone said, “Is this the Credit Manager?”  I said, “Yes. This is CJ.”  The sales person said this lady was madder than hell, but she wasn’t.  She was furious!  She was practically screaming that she had to have this order and could not believe she was being treated this way.  She said she had never been placed on credit hold before and she accused me of being new and not knowing what I was doing.  I tried to explain that, no, I was not new and that I had called her three days in a row and left detailed messages and she had never returned my calls.  But try as I may, she would not listen to me.  She just kept yelling and saying how she had to have this order by the next day.  I tried to calm her down by telling her that I would try to help her get the items she needed, but she just started talking louder and faster non-stop; and finally I was getting mad myself.  I kept telling her I was trying to help, but it did no good. After fifteen minutes of listening to her personally attacking me and my company, I finally had to quit listening.  I held the receiver up in the air about two feet from my ear, but I could still hear her fussing.  She went on and on and on, and every once in a while I would put the receiver back to my ear and say, “You need to calm down.  I am trying to help you.”  She kept me on the phone for damn near thirty minutes and the conversation ended when she hung up on me.

After she hung up on me, I sat there and tried to remain calm, but I was madder than hell that this woman, who didn’t pay her bill, was calling me and raising hell, and wouldn’t listen to a damn thing I was saying.  And then she had the audacity to hang up on me.  I kept thinking, “It’s four o’clock and I only have one more hour to work.  Just hang in there CJ.”  But, I was so mad that I was seriously thinking about calling her back and hanging up on her. “Wonder how she would like that?” The longer I sat there, the more I wanted to call her back.  It was about four fifteen and without thinking about the consequences, I picked up the telephone and dialed the woman’s number.   After the third ring, she picked up the phone and said, “Hello Anne’s Boutique, this is Anne.  How can I help you?”  I said, “Hello Anne, this is CJ.  Why did you hang up on me?  I told you I was trying to help you.”  I was ready for a battle, but much to my surprise, she said, “I’m sorry.  I lost my temper.  I know you were trying to help, but I don’t see how you can help.”  I asked her what items she needed and told her I would check in inventory to see if we had it. I also told her that if she used a credit card to pay for her past due balance and the items that I could ship that day, I would personally ship them out so she would receive them the next day.  She agreed and gave me her credit card information.  I told her I would call her back within fifteen minutes and let her know what I could do.

I looked up the items in our computer and it showed that we had the items Anne needed in our inventory.   Production and shipping had already left for the day, so I was on my own looking for these items.  I walked down to the stock area and found the items I was looking for but, there was a slight variation between the two racks of items that were labeled with the same item number.  I didn’t know why they were labeled the same if they were different.  I saw the President of our company walking out of the break room, so I went over to her and told her that I was trying to get an order out to one of our customers, but I needed some help getting the correct items.  She walked over to the stock area with me and showed me which ones were labeled correctly.  So I gathered the quantity I needed and took them to the shipping area.  I boxed the items and taped them up really good.  I logged into the UPS program and printed a next day air shipping label.  UPS picked up the package and I called Anne back and told her she would receive the items the very next day.  Anne was happy and I was too.  I walked out of the office that day feeling good about what I had done to satisfy a customer.

Monday morning rolled around and I bet I hadn’t been in the office ten minutes until my telephone rang.  It was Anne.  I figured she was calling to thank me, but she was calling to tell me I shipped the wrong things.  I thought how the hell could it be wrong….the damn President of the company picked out the items.  And guess what?  Anne was mad all over again, and she started fussing and yelling and I had to hold the phone away from my ear to keep from saying something I shouldn’t.  And this went on and on for damn near thirty minutes.  Long enough for me to eat my breakfast and read my international email.  And right as I was saying , “I was only trying to help.”, she hung up on me; again.  And I thought, “Damn, it’s gonna be a long week!”  😛


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