Regrouping: Day 2

Cover of "Coraline (Single-Disc Edition w...

Cover of Coraline (Single-Disc Edition w/ 3D)


(For those of you looking for Sweet Lake:  Part 2, have faith.  I have more pictures to share.)   

Today was not a bad day…sales-wise.  The problem here is we need better than “not bad,” we need great!  Last night I watched Coraline, a delightful film about a young girl overcoming incredible — even supernatural — odds.  Inspiring!  If Coraline could outsmart a dead old witch or whatever it was that she was doing, you’d think that an above average guy could have an average sales day, wouldn’t you?  Well…today’s goal was to get out and stay busy.  And I accomplished that.   

Today was another beautiful day along the St. Croix River Valley.  A brilliant day.  Bright blue skies and changing fall colors, trees in muted and subtle browns, oranges, and golds…but mostly yellow.  This really hasn’t been the best year for color yet.  A few trees really shine, but most are slowly giving up the summer green and we’re a long way from anything postcard-worthy.   

On a day like today, it can be a challenge to remain focused so I let the day steer my attention.  That isn’t always a bad thing.  A sales guy should clear his head every so often.  In my line of work true vacations are rare and costly.  If you’re not selling, you’re not making money; you need to be ahead by a few days to give up a few days and even then it can be very difficult to let go.  This is an important thing for anyone truly wired for sales to keep in mind.  If you are driven to sell, you’ll be feeling anxious about time away from the beat.  So what about the rest of us?   

Well, for those of us not truly wired for sales, downtime is no less anxious.  If you have time off and are not prepared for it, you’ll feel like you squandered go time and cheated yourself.  If you’re ahead of the curve and feel like you earned a day or two, you might feel guilty about giving it up to vacation.  Now of course I am speaking in the generalized “you, you, you” when it is really me, me, me…but I challenge a sales person to tell me it is different.   

Today will likely be chalked up to one of those squandered days, but not altogether a bad one to squander.  I mentioned that the day was gorgeous and that it truly was.    

River Level Falling. St. Croix River. Stillwater, MN. October 2010.


 I walked along the river in Stillwater.  It has been in flood, but if you look at this picture you’ll see by the line of floatsam that the water is receding…we are post-crest, kind of like my career!  

But not all of the day felt crestfallen.  Hardly.  I drove up toward my beloved Marine on St. Croix under the pretense of scouting out new leads.  Lo and behold, I found a few.   Actually met a couple of smart and professional business owners.  One in particular impressed me.  A young guy with a new garage right on the highway.  He isn’t set up with any advertising other than a decent and tasteful sign on the highway, but he appears to be doing all right.  He could do more and he understands that.  He seems to understand that he knows how to repair cars and is prepared to let people with other expertise help him grow.  I hope he chooses to do business with me.  I can help him.
In fact I met a few other smart professionals today.  No one came charging at me, knuckles dragging and mouth foaming to tell me what a fucking idiot I am.  I kind of a appreciate that, to be honest.  It feels good.  I talked with a manager of a bookstore, an attorney, a beauty salon owner, an antique dealer, and a roofer today…
Oh, the roofer.  Bad news there.  The guy can’t pay his bill.  Awfully polite about it, but that doesn’t do a hell of a lot for my bottom line.  I’ll lose this account and the commissions.  This is a bigger account, too.  I am doing what I can to coach him through this (something that I actually have some skill at doing) and find a way to keep his account alive, but it is not looking good.  My guess is the lights will be out come winter. 
It shouldn’t be that way.  I know from my sources alone he is getting flooded with leads.  He says he is getting work, too, but claims that the market is undercut by low bids from competitors.  Yes…and no.  Over the weeks I have tried calling this guy and he never answers his phone!  How can you do business when you don’t answer your phone?  And I have some of his competitors on my books.  They claim to be on a recovery now, making money again, hiring again, and I see yard signs from those businesses out around the market quite often. 
But that really is not my concern, I suppose, and I do feel badly for the struggling roofer.  Perhaps things will come around and it will not become a total loss for me.
eventually I made it to a nearby park for a stroll.  I chose Sunfish Lake Park in Lake Elmo, a point between my early door-swinging activity and a later appointment.  I like to take a walk at this park and it seemed like a good place to make some calls and get my papers organized.
The colors here were disappointing.  Still a lot of change to occur, but washed out yellows look like they will dominate the autumn landscape this year.  Not to be discouraged, I got out for a walk.  On this walk I loaded up my GPS so I could share my wanderings.  This is the first attempt to transfer a Garmin map to WordPress so not only is it exciting, but it is a bit uncertain, too.

Muted October Colors.


Hmmm…well, that was rather disappointing.  It seems that the GPS route has been saved as a separate post.  I’ll have to play with that a bit.  GPS makes me a little nervous anyway.  I feel vulnerable to CIA predator drones, but since no remotely-fired rockets have disrupted my walks yet, I walk on fearlessly. 
I did encounter two birds I am struggling to identify.  I would say they were quail, but I don’t think we have quail here and I am too far south for grouse; they looked too small anyway.  Perhaps they were grey partridge, but the colors seemed wrong.  These birds had a beautiful almost chocolate brown … what do you call it?…plumage?  (I almost thought foilage…been looking at too many faded trees.)   They were very easy going quail/partridge.  I thought I better sneak up on them for a good photo, but that effort was all in vain.  They didn’t do anything but squeak, chirp, and cluck as they outsmarted me and casually pidgeon-walked into the underbrush.  Why don’t birds fly for the camera! 
On my GPS map you might see where I went into the woods outfitted in an expensive suit and shoes  to outflank the little birds.  Cordovan leather actually does quite well in the brush.
I walked 1.55 miles and decided it was too hot to sit around the park and make calls.  I drove to Mendota, Minnesota, instead.  Now there is a park for making calls!  I went down by the old Faribault House and found a picnic table, brought out my laptop computer and my cell phone and started calling clients.  Now THIS might have been the most productive part of my day.  I am completely convinced that a peripatetic approach to making phone calls is the best way to do it.  Hell, there wasn’t an objection or an angry client that I could not handle while on my feet strolling through the sun-dappled shade of old Faribault’s historic back yard!  It was brilliant!  I was brilliant.  I really got a lot done.  Damn near made a sale, in fact, over the phone, but that seemed sloppy.  I scheduled to meet the client Friday morning.

Alexander Faribault's Back Yard. Mendota, MN.


This really was a highlight.  The day was slogging along, but in a pleasant sunshiney kind of a way.  Nevertheless, I was starting to feel a bit discouraged.  This was feeling like one of those days I would later recall as one squandered, although it never was all that bad.  Good things happened today.  But better things happened in Mendota.    

I even put pennies on the rail road tracks.  I used to think that flattened pennies would make great blades for spinning fishing lures.  I still think they would.  And if I get a chance to retire, I think I might even make a lure or two with flattened pennies as spinners. 
I also like trains and Mendota rarely disappoints.  Stay near the tracks long enough and a train will come by.  I enjoy standing near the train when it cars pass.  I get a sort of vertigo sensation that can make me feel a little motion sick.  Still, a train is an impressive sight.   (Hard to call clients from the side of noisy tracks, however.)

Choo! Choo! Trains are Cool!


 Your tour guide rambled on a bit.  The take aways today?  Bodies in motion stay in motion.  My approach to the day was not particularly graceful, but I kept finding ways to stay busy, even when it is most difficult for me to do so.  I really do love my strolls in the parks, watching trains, and driving down county highways.  It is hard to stay focused on sales.  But if I let my sales responsibilities share my day, I seem to get it done.  (Kind of a childlike approach.  Look at it that way.)
Now let’s see what we can do with this work.  Nothing matters if there isn’t a signature on an order.

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