Many years ago when my son was very small, I was in sales. It was difficult and I soon learned that I wasn’t cut out for sales. The truth is that I was too honest for sales. While the other salesmen were closing the deal, I was too busy being honest and forthright to close and make the sale. It was a complex lesson but, it was one I had to learn albeit the hard way.
Later on I took a job as an Assistant Manager at a retail store. There I found that my honesty actually paid off. Patrons learned to trust me and my sales commission soared. Parents would bring their children in knowing that I would not lie to them just to make a sale. To make a long story short, I only spent a few years in sales and through education and circumstance, got out of sales for good.
I was surprised in this day and age to find an eighth grader at my door the other day. He was selling candy bars for a trip his class was making that he was looking forward to. Cold calls, I remember them well. It was arguably the most difficult thing to do in sales yet, here this eighth grader was doing just that.
For those of you who don’t know what a “cold call” is, it is knocking on a door where you are not expected. In some cases, the “cold call” may just be a phone call that is unexpected. Either way, it was a part of sales that was the bane of most sales positions. The sales person has no way of knowing what type of reception nor reaction they may get. In some cases the person being called upon may be pleasant, in other cases not so much. The call may lead to sale or it may lead to a tirade from the recipient. Discouragement for the salesperson is the end result and it’s not for the faint of heart.
So, getting back t0 the story, here was a small boy in the eighth grade going door to door selling candy bars trying to raise money. I immediately had empathy for him so I bought two. He wasn’t on my front porch long. Just long enough for me to learn that he was selling candy bars for a class trip, that he was in the eighth grade and that he was looking forward to the trip. I wasn’t about to keep him long, just long enough to buy two candy bars and give him a little extra for his trip. As he was leaving I wished him well and hoped he had a good time while learning lots.
After he had already left I thought about all of the things I should have said to him. After he had already left I thought about how dangerous it was for a child to be out and about these days. After he had already left I thought about how fast the cars move and how unprepared the drivers are to stop for a small boy carrying a box of candy bars. After he had already left the thoughts flooded into my brain. I found myself worrying about a small nameless boy that I had a chance meeting with. Was I worrying because he had no parents with him? Was I worried because having my own kids, I knew how dangerous the world could be? Was I worried because I knew how difficult it was to knock on doors? Was I worried because I knew the cruel reception he might get from some people?