Once upon a time, many years ago, I tried my hand in a sales role. Turns out, I was shit at it, my strengths apparently lie in operational stuff – but let me tell you about why I was crap at sales.
Firstly and foremost, the sales role I entered into was for a product I knew well. It was for a product that I had previously managed from an operational point of view – and very successfully too. Of course, the sales team loved having me around while pitching to customers because I knew my product well, knew how to work it and knew its limitations. Then, I moved to a competitor. At least I thought they were a competitor! When I got some inside information on their product – I could see just how shit it was, and definitely no match for the product I had just left behind.
Now, not being a sales minded fool, I just couldn’t sell a shit product to unsuspecting clients – I am far too honest for that. I also struggled with the Finance Director in that company too. See, they advertised the role as £40k OTE. For those who are unfamiliar with corporate speak, OTE refers to ‘On Target Earnings’, pretty typical with sales job. You get a base salary and then you make bonuses based on volume of sales. The bonuses + the base (on a good year) will equal the OTE.
Simple maths you would have thought ?
Not if you’re a Finance Director it seems. When I finally got my targets from this guy, I did a very simple calculation. I added my base salary to the bonuses available for hitting 100% on targets from day 1 and guess what? That £40k a year was in fact £28k a year. When I asked the Director of Finances how there could be such a huge difference in what was advertised as OTE and what I could physically achieve, he simply said ‘that’s just the way it is’!
Now imagine….I had just spent 6 months working for Stelios Haji-Ioannou of easyjet fame out of their Camden office – a business man who made decisions with his ego rather than rationale, then to be clobbered by this Finance Director who had less charisma than a cold wet chamois leather – I was convinced that there was no integrity left in the UK. I fudged the next few months doing absolutely sod all until eventually they said ‘this isn’t working is it?’. At which point I smiled at the Operations Director and agreed with him – ‘Absolutely not Ken’ I beamed. I then explained why things had progressed that way and my conversation two months prior with the Finance Director. Poor Ken looked shocked.
He did ask if I wanted to stay for my sales meeting that morning to which I replied ‘of course not’ and I headed for home. I thought that would be it if I am honest. Until they came to collect the car a month later. The Finance Director tried to withhold my salary because of a crack in the windscreen and a scratch on the bumper. I referred him back to my contract, pointing out there was no mention of their ability to withhold funds. I gave them 3 days to put the money in my bank or I would refer the matter to ACAS and guess what……………the very next day I was paid in full.
Now in short, that’s golf wankers at a corporate level. See, the FD was a golf wanker and if you weren’t prepared to listen to his shit – you simply weren’t in his favour. Even before I met him, I hated golf so imagine how much of a sympathetic ear his weedy stories fell on ?
When I left, I did write to one of their board members telling them what had been going on. Curiously, I learned a year later they had all been fired. Golf Wankers.
A month after all of that was done, I had sold my house, most of my belongings and left the UK.
I digressed a little there – I was talking about my inability to be a salesman. You will see a little further down the page a photo from a recent shopping trip to Sainsbury’s. a 300g packet of McVities Chocolate Digestives costing 10p MORE than a 500g packet. I questioned why and how Sainsbury’s can do this. Lets be fair for a moment – Sainsbury’s are not the only culprit – they are all at it – but how can they do it and get away with it and make money?
The answer is very simple, and a lot closer to home than most of you will imagine. The reason why they can and do get away with it is that the general public are insanely stupid. I shall now give you two examples.
- My very gorgeous S7 edge broke again recently (another story there – save that for another day). With both the front and rear screen cracked and a potential repair bill from Samsung in the region of £250 / £300 I started looking at replacing it. There were 3 items listed on eBay. Two were fixed price, buy it now sales, both listed at just under £350. The third was an auction style sale, highest bidder wins. When I first looked, that was at £320 with an additional £7.50 postage. A couple of days later and that auction ended, the final bid at £390 plus postage. So who is paying nearly £50 more for something than the other two listings on eBay? Stupid People!
- Just bought a tumble dryer for the missus – I know, romance isn’t dead. Thought it would make an excellent Valentines Day present to replace her non condensing dryer which was causing much condensation throughout her house. So, I took a look through eBay again. With one eye on the environment, I also looked at some tidy second hand options. While watching and searching, I noticed a company in Leicester that were offering new Hotpoint dryers for £169. I checked ao.com and the best they were doing was a tad over £200. Some of the used units were fetching very close to the price of the new Hotpoint so I thought ‘stop wasting your time Wayno’ jumped in the five point oh (no longer focused on the environment) and headed to Leicester to pick one up. Met the girl at the store, loaded the Range and as I was about to pull away my phone chirped. eBay – the item you were watching has finished, the winning bid was £179. A second hand dryer had sold for more than I had paid for a new one. Who does that? STUPID PEOPLE.
So let that be a lesson to you – retailers get away with charging what they like all thanks to STUPID PEOPLE. So the reason I was shit at sales was all down to STUPID PEOPLE and my honesty and integrity that wouldn’t allow me to take their money for a shite product that they could get elsewhere at a better price or a higher quality.
Crikey – that was a bit of a rant……..took longer than expected. Lets get back to the field slider.
For the uninitiated, the ‘Field Slider’ is a car. Generally of low value, minimal street cred unless pimped to some degree, often a second car used to protect a more valued item, front or rear wheel drive (never a 4×4, but rear drive has more kudos than front), ABS is optional and ESP banned. Any car from the mandatory ESP era simply cannot be considered a field slider.
The idea of the slider is the freedom to be more reckless or careless. No need to lock it, park it where you like, doesn’t matter if someone dings it, cleaning is optional (interior & exterior), birds can shit all over it and it doesn’t matter if it burns the paint, you can throw anything in the back to take to the dump without putting a protection sheet down first, cheap second hand parts are abundant (although trips to the scrap yard these days are not as much fun now that they are not allowed to stack cars 3 high), insurers laugh at you if you ask for comprehensive insurance, people in Sainsbury’s filling station look down their noses at you when you are filling it up, and importantly no matter how dirty you are – your field slider is always happy that you sat in its seat.
But the real attraction of the field slider is its main qualifying criteria – it must be of an age that was pre mandatory ESP or electronic stability program for the abbreviation shy. See, modern cars, you can hit a bend too hot, brake in the wrong place, accelerate too hard at the wrong time and the car will squirm around underneath you, recover, keep you on the tarmac and spit you out the other end alive and well, feeling like some kind of F1 hero for ‘saving the car’. The reality is that the stability program just saved you, the car and the ditch from a very compact threesome that wasn’t quite the threesome you had in mind.
A true slider needs understanding, calmness and control. Arguably the best sliders came from Italy. Alfa’s, Fiats and the absolute legendary Lancia’s. There are a brace now of suitable rear wheel drives from BMW & Mercedes but be aware – these boys were fitting ESP way before it was a legal requirement. If you are lucky, you might still find an old XR4i or a Brooklands 280 Capri but these are creeping up in value now and may be too expensive to stay in the true ‘slider’ category.
Everybody should have a slider at some point in their life. Extra points can be earned for pulling up at the Ritz in London in your slider, getting out in your wellies and having the car valet parked.
And lets not forget, the ability of the slider to help compliance with rule 25.
Have a moan - the beers are on me !!