This used to be my favorite.

Sales; the last frontier, or so my current employers think.

In an interesting turn of events, three management types encouraged me to lie as part of my standard script this week. They were all panicked at the impending arrival of even more important management types, scrabbling to cover any visible holes, and so did a wee role-play. My task was to correctly (ahem) divert attention away from one product onto another, with the goal of selling the second. I guess it goes without saying that the second is more profitable.

My view is that selling is about fulfilling a need. In the case of, say, wine, the need is more subtle than one might think. More subtle and also multi-layered. As a luxury item, there is no need for wine other than those we create. The need for alcohol is one not so shiny part of the decision to buy, and is the easiest to sell, because it sells itself.

No, it’s the social and intellectual needs that are harder to nail down. Wanting to appear knowledgeable, worldly, sophisticated (whatever that means) superior, tasteful and part of an elite drive the choice of one particular bottle over another.

The difficulty in attempting to overtly sell to any one of those edifying aspirations is that it also involves the opinions of third parties, and their tastes and biases. I’ll give you an example.

A woman wants to buy wine for a dinner party. She’s preparing supper for her best friend and her husband, and of course herself and her husband. That’s four different tastes and biochemistries, four different palates, four different senses of smell, four different tasting histories. Thai people, for instance will have a different taste history from Esquimaux, and that will affect their enjoyment of an individual wine apart from the pure nose and taste.

So the woman wants to impress someone with some wines that complement the food. She wants to move up from her usual $10 per bottle wine into something more expensive. Without tasting, she won’t even know how she likes the wine, let alone her husband and guests. This doesn’t even start with the perception of name, label, bottle style, fame of winemaker and so on. It’s a quagmire of mantraps…or wine-sales traps.

The salesmen then resorts to creativity – lies – to reassure the customer that all the above needs will be met, with the most profitable bottle possible inside her budget. It’s a fools errand. One example of such a lie, as recommended by my employer, is: This one used to be my favorite (the non-preferred purchase) but this (thrusting bottle into uneasy customer’s hand) is now.

It’s dishonest, cheesy, short-sighted and plain low-rent. I’ll have no truck with this junk.

How long have you been in retail?

Management visited the workplace yesterday, in a flurry of angst from bosses.

This place adores acronyms (RVP, DM, RHRVP, LP) and congratulating itself on what a caring place it it. I was told that someone sporting a lot of letters (see above) would personally chat to me about my welfare and thoughts, but thankfully that didn’t happen. Instead I introduced myself to them.

Big companies don’t have to be like this. This slightly dazed self-importance results from these people looking up and not down. They’re keen to impress their bosses, not propel the minions who deal with keeping customers swooshing through the door.

Apparently we’re a retard store – excuse me, Special Needs Store –  because we failed to live up to some magical sales target. Being short-bus-worthy means we attract special attention, although just how useful this is at increasing sales is a matter for debate.

My unofficial and amateurish guide to the character of management is the cleanliness of the rest rooms. By my measure…not very. The doors are dirty (from where people push them to open from the store-side) and the flush of the urinal is iffy. Ergo, bad management.

As a sidebar, I was smart not to partake of the lunch provided, thereby obeying the First Rule of boss interaction: eating never burnishes your brand.

Remaining Silent

A new job, a (slightly) different tactic.

Because I have opinions, I need to watch my mouth. The methods and structures become invisible to people who’ve become used to them, which means they slowly become less critical, if not outright advocates. But the fact remains that they are invested in keeping things the way they are, because they are the way things are the way they are.

My mentor and confidante has it about right: The place is owned by lawyers, so that means they’re stuck in the 1940s. Majesty of the law and all that stuff means that public opinion (read; everyone else) improves and changes while the stately ship of legislation cruises slowly behind. We have everything run by pieces of paper and binders. Their technology is a pyramid of legacy systems piled on each other, like and archeological dig. Systems are what remains from whatever was before. It’s comic, if not downright Dickensian.

We must wear ties. This in a job that requires climbing ladders and carting around 50 lb boxes. The CBT was so slow it was counter-educational. Procedures vary depending upon to whom one is talking.

But it’s all part of the great corporate inevitability, that innovation and efficiency must be forced upon people from people at the bottom and at the top. But not by me. I’m remaining firmly mute.

August

In the middle of August, the summer of 2016, northern hemisphere edition.

  • Trump and Clinton are our choices for president, media want Hill.
  • US Fed debt at an all time high, $20,000,000,000,000.
  • Most big economy sovereign debt at or below zero.
  • Inflation non-existent.
  • PokemonGo occupies anyone under 30.
  • 94,000,000 people of working age NOT looking for/in work in US
  • Oil still under $45, US production steady.
  • Middle East still screwed based on Obama/Clinton/Kerry mess.
  • Obama pays $400,000,000 in CASH for hostages in Iran.

That’s all too depressing to continue.