This past week I turned some sort of corner at work. I'm not sure what happened, one day I was complaining about management and how underpaid my department is, then I got caught up in some new projects. I met some new people, I overcame some negative feelings about my performance and I've decided that I am going to stop waiting for management to recognize my achievements and measure my success based on what clients share and order from me.

Networking has always been a skill of mine. Thinking back it isn't really exciting that I connected a man in Idaho with another man in Texas and a woman from Kentucky. I had called a woman from Michigan that I'm on good terms with, she didn't get back to me the day I called which is usually the case with her. When I saw what I thought was her number on my caller ID I picked up the phone expecting to have a nice chat about a research project. Instead I had the opportunity to speak with one of her coworkers that I've only spoken with once before.

Since I tend to have difficulty managing conflict at home my heart starts beating a little faster when I have someone on the other end of the line who is upset. When this woman asked who her outside rep was I told her I'd be happy to call him or give her his contact info. After a pause she said that I was a real live person who could actually get things done and after forty odd minutes of listening to her I'm glad I was at my desk to take that call.

Friday afternoon I closed the largest deal I've ever handled while working where I do. Back in January I was certain that it was never going to go anywhere. Part of my job entails recognizing sales opportunties and pushing products out the door only to have them come back later is a factor I am careful to consider before closing a deal. Initially I was leery about the volume they wanted because I would rather start people off slowly and give them a manageable amount of inventory that they can realistically pay off.

When the woman who was my first contact said anything I could give her would help I ran some reports and customized an order based on her 2010 sales. I sent her three quotes in the hopes that she would choose the middle option. After not hearing from her for days I got a call from a guy I had worked with on a small order. Talking with him gave me a much better idea about what this account was after. It took some negotiating but eventually he agreed to let me have more time to sumbit a new quote for him.

His new order was more challenging for me to put together since I couldn't see his store but I recruited some of the guys I work with and ended up with a list of 184 pairs of shoes for him to accept or reject. Since his initial order was only 175 pairs I wasn't sure he would go with the budget increase however he wanted sandals which was what carried his order over 175 pairs. At the end of the day he told me he was going to go home, hang out with his girlfriend and start drinking. Some of the people I work with went out and it was kind of fun to sit outside after the end of a long hard week.

A frustrating thing about that deal was the complete lack of support I had from management. To give you some idea what an order like that entails the bill ended up being not quite half of my annual base salary. More important than the initial order is what that order represents. An order like that is a committment to me and the company I work for. It says that a customer trusts me to guide them through an experience they've never been through before. I didn't lose sleep over the deal because I know I'm good at what I do and I've helped people open shoe stores before.

Each order has its own unique challenges. That one was the most interesting because I had a free hand in choosing their inventory. They rejected less than twenty percent of my picks, what I liked about that was their rationale for rejecting shoes I had on their list. We discussed color selections, that was mostly what they wanted changed although they discarded a few of my choices in favor of shoes they thought would work for a certain demographic. Eventually we agreed on 184 pairs not including the 36 pairs of display shoes I sent them last week.

My boss has worked out a formula that describes the financial impact of each account ordering one more pair of shoes. What she's really trying to say is that every sale has a positive effect on our bottom line. Had an outside rep put that kind of an order through they would collect commission on that however they don't get a base salary like I do. Hopefully we'll get a commission rate eventually which would really be nice. An account of mine that has recently popped opened up a little more last time I called which is what I love about my job. You never know who is going to reveal what and when.

Every other Friday a woman with a beautiful name and voice calls me up to place an order. Two weeks ago she told me she's considering getting rid of the other shoe vendor she orders from. I had a great conversation with this guy that I would love to meet in person. He passed along the name and contact info of the Regional Sales Manager for another company he orders from and he shared his concerns about his orders not being delivered in a timely manner. When people get frustrated about the competition I try to be empathetic but in my mind competition prevents complacency.

Competition keeps the market innovative, it can drive quality, customer service standards and I've learned what matters to different people when I hear what they like about other companies out there. For me those companies are places I could end up working at. I've thought about contacting the sales manager whose name and number I have to see if he would be interested in hiring me but I have to make sure that I would be moving for the right reasons.

Today I went on a walk with the girls and my mom. After walking around the river I took the girls out to lunch at a tapas restaurant. There was an electrical fire at the place I had chosen so we ended up someplace new which ended up being a very positive experience. My salad was lovely, and the girls ate well. They lobbied for dessert but I was full and I am not spending seven dollars on a dessert that I can't eat. Saving money has been a priority of mine but the food was good and it was some quality family time together.

This past week I had breakthroughs on several levels. You've read about work but there are some home things I didn't address because I'm not sure I want to share that right now. After the walk and being at the gym my body is complaining so I let the girls watch some TV while I wrote this and laid down for a while. Part of being a good mother means taking care of yourself so I'm not going to let guilt creep in my on time for myself.

Until next time,


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