Our Sales Team’s Wide Receiver (continued)
Tommaso stumbled back onto the sidewalk wondering if his life would ever be the same again. It wouldn’t.
Normally, Tommaso worked hard not to be noticed. He was a young man with thick black hair, black eyes, and a porcelain white face. They were the tell-tale signs of his northern Italian ancestry. He was handsome but it was his physique that made people take notice. He was 6 feet 7 inches tall. He had an upper body like an inverted triangle. And, he had the legs of an elite field athlete.
In high school, he played wide receiver. The Southeastern Conference could have been a possibility but, unfortunately for Tommaso, the SEC was not to be. During a preseason game, his quarterback threw him a Hail Mary. Tommaso had to twist one way then the other as he sprinted toward the end zone. The defence tackle on the other team speared him. It was totally illegal, of course, and Tommaso crashed to the ground twisting and wrenching his right shoulder. After a scan, there was bad news. His collar bone was broken and the head of his humerus was shattered. The tendons in his shoulder were torn apart. His football playing days were over. The doctors said he was lucky. In the past, spearing had paralyzed players. Even so, Tommaso was devastated.
Now that he was working in sales, it was his personality that held him back. That’s what people said. So, what was wrong with him? This giant young man was shy. He was introverted. If he had nothing to say, he said nothing. Of course, that was only part of the truth. With Tommaso, there was a lot going on but it almost always remained below the surface.
In staff meetings, he sat with the other sales reps and listened more carefully than most. He took everything in, made his judgment, and got on with his product demonstrations, cold calling, and emailing, keeping his pipeline filled, getting his customers ready to buy, then passing them over to the relevant Account Executive in due course.
The reason Tommaso froze for those awkward moments in that particular equipment demo was that he suddenly remembered exactly what happened in the lobby of the building half an hour before. He had been rolling his large black suitcase that was filled with samples and brochures. In it he had a new style kicking tee, a shoulder pad with a uniquely cut deep arch, and super grip gloves. He was silently running through his prepared script, mentally checking off each item.
As he crossed to the elevator doors, he saw the young woman walking directly towards a newly mopped area of the floor. Totally distracted, gazing at her iPhone, her left foot slipped out from under her, her knee hyperextended then crumpled, and she slumped heavily and painfully to the floor, probably damaging her spine in the process. She screamed in pain. Tommaso saw and heard it all clearly. That’s when he flew to her aid. The trouble was that the incident hadn’t happened yet. He had seen it but … it hadn’t happened. That was prescience.
That amazing power to foresee events and to do something about them began to dominate Tommaso’s life. Not that his behavior changed much as far as anyone could see. He was still quiet in work meetings. He still continued his competent cold calling and cold emailing, and his product presentations. But, one thing had changed although no-one knew about it. He got a t-shirt printed which said across the chest “Wide Receiver.” He wore it under his business shirt as a secret message to himself.
So, now, Tommaso was always alert in case he saw someone heading into trouble. He was poised and balanced, ready to react.
One day, he stopped a nine-year-old kid running onto the road in front of a speeding SUV. The boy was chasing a bouncing basketball down a steep driveway. He leaped out from between two parked cars and was struck with a sickening thumping popping sound. That was human flesh and bones striking fast moving molded metal. Tommaso flew to the rescue. He grabbed the boy before he reached the road but the oncoming vehicle rolled over the ball and punctured it. The kid was upset about his basketball and about not being allowed to run on the road to save it. Tommaso didn’t bother with long explanations. He would send him a new basketball from Zone Line. It would be good P.R.
Later, he was downtown when an elevator door opened but no elevator appeared. Someone took a few steps forward without realizing they were about to step off a 25-story cliff. Tommaso tackled the guy, throwing him sideways onto the floor. Someone yelled angrily. Some people thought Tommaso had attacked the man, until the elevator doors opened slowly and silently to reveal an empty echoing blackness and certain death. Everyone took a step back, gasping in horror. Tommaso’s shoulder ached for weeks after.
When something like that happened, Tommaso shyly accepted people’s reactions, whatever they were, then vanished to his favorite place, which was called “anonymity.” It was simply too difficult to say that he saw things happen before they happened. Prescience is not easily explained.
It was about this time that Tommaso grasped something that should have been perfectly obvious from the start. He could fly. His action was closer to leaping but he could cover 100 yards instantly.
That was weird, to say the least. But, the strangest thing was that it was a bit like spearing.
Then, there was more.
The first time it happened, he was talking to an Account Executive about a customer who never bought much. Tommaso heard the guy say: “We shouldn’t bother with these people. They are just tire kickers.” From Tommaso’s perspective, that was exactly the wrong attitude.
Somehow, Tommaso intervened with the guy’s thoughts and words. Tommaso wanted him to say: “We must help these people. They could turn into long-term customers, even advocates.” Then, the A.E. said exactly that. To be sure that he had not misheard, Tommaso asked him to confirm, which the A.E. did, without a second thought.
Tommaso did the same thing once or twice in a meeting. He decided what he wanted his boss to say and that’s exactly what she said. No-one else knew that Tommaso put those words in her mouth.
About that time, the true situation became known. It was not about Tommaso, but about Zone Line Sports.
Tommaso first heard it when rumors began circulating among the sales staff. No doubt, the executives knew a long time before.
Zone Line Sports was in trouble. The CEO and CFO were continually in meetings from which they emerged grim faced, distracted, and irritable.
Supplies from their manufacturers in Thailand had been badly disrupted by the pandemic and shipping bottlenecks. A couple of their important customers were experiencing trouble finding staff. Football itself was dislocated. And, now, their biggest and best customer was wavering as the time approached for their five-year contract to be renewed.
Before the rumors became facts, the sales staff tried to deny them. Then, they whispered that everything they had heard was probably true, but they couldn’t do anything about it. Finally, they started to panic.
At this stage, Tommaso came clean with those close to him. He told two of his colleagues that he had developed superpowers. They were not shocked. People were so worried that they now believed anything that anyone said.
Tommaso assured them that he’d do something to help. They said: “We don’t have your powers, so what can we do? We feel so helpless.”
Tommaso’s advice was simple. “Everyone should use MercurySays with your text messages. That’s close to having a superpower. I’ve been using it for months.”
Then, privately, Tommaso worked out a plan. It focused on their biggest and best customer. The multi-year contract was worth millions of dollars. The final presentation was attended by Tommaso’s General Manager Sales and the most senior Account Executive. For such meetings, a sales rep usually attended as extra backup, and Tommaso talked her into letting him attend in her place. She briefed him about every detail.
In the meeting, the customer’s Chief Purchasing Officer began expressing doubt about the financial stability of the industry. Her fellow executives, seated around her, sat stony faced. Then, she said it may be appropriate to step away from their relationship with Zone Line Sports until things settled down. Possibly, it was time to think of better ways to achieve their goals.
Instantly, Tommaso struck. But, this time he didn’t move a muscle. He simply thought of the words he wanted the Chief Purchasing Officer to say and she said them. He had jumped ahead of time once again.
Swivelling on her chair, her demeanor dramatically changed. She brightened and said: “However, although we do have some doubts about continuing with our relationship, I can honestly say that Zone Line Sports provides strong, steady, and professional support to our work.” Her fellow executives nodded their heads in agreement. Then, silently prompted by Tommaso, she said: “So, I propose that we sign the contract this morning and proceed to refine some of the procedural details over the next two weeks.”
The executives on Tommaso’s side moved as quickly as Tommaso during his superpowered leaps. The contract was out on the desk in front of the CFO and CEO in a moment. Pens were provided. Signatures were scrawled.
Over the following weeks, Tommaso sat back anonymously in the staff meetings he attended. Everything had returned to normal, or so it seemed. The most pleasing change that happened after that was that the strategic direction of Zone Line Sports improved tremendously. The executives seemed to be in agreement. In fact, they were thinking and saying everything that Tommaso silently told them to say.
The sales staff were enormously relieved that their jobs were secure. Everyone was happy that their firm had found a successful path to follow.
Occasionally, someone reported being miraculously saved from injury by the swift, some would say, impossible acts of brave intuition displayed by Tommaso Contini.
They were grateful. But, they didn’t know half the story.