To boost business, one of our city’s biggest retail chains decided to hold a Best Salesperson Competition.
They opened it to all comers, but they expected one of their staff to win. Unfortunately, they struck difficulties halfway through. The challenge was held on YouTube and, for the salespeople who showed their talents, the number of “likes” would determine the winner. The city mayor picked up the story, then one of the local TV stations ran with it, too.
Edana was a vibrant (some would say “extravagant”) woman who had been selling for her janitorial supplies firm for 24 years. She loved every moment of it. Recently, she started using MercurySays to freshen her sales messages and to ensure they were perfectly aligned with each customer. Of course, she got every new sales staff to use it, as well. And, now the great results were in the bag.
The YouTube competition drew her interest. With all her bubbling energy, she talked (she was a real talker) her immediate boss and a marketing guy into helping her make a funny YouTube post. The boss looked like someone who would walk through walls to get things done. The marketing guy (loved by everyone) was as innocent as he was hysterical. He spent most of his time gaping with astonishment at anything that grabbed his attention. His usual response was: “That’s amazing. We can do anything.”
Both guys loved doing the video. They improvised, saying the most ridiculous things, as they wrote a bogus new sales policy they wanted Edana to follow. The next scene had her reading their document and carelessly dropping it on the floor. She looked directly into the iPhone’s camera lens and said: “Selling is simple. First, I love the people I work with. Second, I love helping our customers who keep our city buildings clean and safe. Third, the pay is good. Like I said. Selling is simple. Amen.”
The YouTube subscribers didn’t need to be told to smack the “like” button. Thousands in the city joined in. They liked her message and they loved her exuberance.
That was when the mayor’s office contacted the general manager of Edana’s janitorial supplies firm. Edana heard about the call from the GM’s secretary. There were no details. Just that the mayor was on the case.
Edana started to worry. Maybe her job was in jeopardy. She was sure she was in deep trouble. Then, things got worse.
A day or two later, Edana’s phone rang. Someone “unknown” was calling. She listened for a moment or two, then she thought she would faint.
The guy gave his name and said he was calling from the mayor’s office. The mayor would like to talk to her. Would tomorrow morning at 9:15 be convenient? Did she need any special assistance?
Edana did need assistance, but the straight bourbon she swallowed that night seemed to offer enough support to get her to the morning. But, no more than that.
Edana had been strong, vibrant, assertive, and confident but all of that collapsed completely in the mayor’s waiting room. Her hands gripped each other so tight they hurt. She wanted to cry. She wanted to run away. But her general manager had told her to go, so there she was. Trembling. Feeling cold.
The mayor’s assistant invited her into the massive office, but the meeting turned into a strange affair. The mayor wasn’t angry. She seemed to be curious. The assistant asked her questions like “Do you usually vote in local elections?” and “Have you ever dealt with the media before?” The mayor smiled in a kindly way as she said: “Would you say you are a political person?” and “Do you currently support any community projects?”
Edana stumbled through her answers, trying always to tell the truth and to keep her meaning simple and clear. In a flash, the meeting was over. The mayor thanked her and said goodbye.
A day or so later, Edana’s general manager got an email from the state-wide Sales Management Federation. Apparently, they didn’t like Edana’s video. They wanted it taken down.
Then, the State Marketing Board made a public announcement, promoted in the media, that she had mocked all the good people who worked in marketing.
Edana was horrified.
But, that evening, (after her now nightly bourbon) when the camera crew turned up at her front door asking questions, her mood changed dramatically. Enough was enough.
Staring into the bright light, she said: “I have not been attacking anyone. We made the video for a laugh. People liked it. End of story. Amen.”
The woman holding the microphone turned to face the camera to say something that Edana didn’t hear. It didn’t matter.
Two days later, the city’s main newspaper ran an editorial backing Edana and condemning those who, it said: “… were simply causing trouble to big note themselves. Edana is real. People like her and her message. Amen.”
Thankfully, after two weeks, the whole issue died down. Remarkably, the top salesperson in the city’s biggest retail chain (the one that organized the YouTube competition in the first place) put out a new video that got far more votes than Edana. In the end, he won.
Edana was relieved. Still feeling battered and bruised, she settled back into her job. Those around her were kind and supportive.
No-one heard anything about the incident until eight months later when the mayor suddenly appointed Edana as the city’s ambassador for small business. Then, Edana’s face started appearing on the sides of buses that circled downtown. Underneath was one word: “Amen.”
Now, people are saying she’ll be running for mayor come next election. I’m ready to bet on the result. For Edana, campaigning will be easy. She’s been doing it for 24 years.