I am back in isolation again. Sometimes it’s not till you step away from something you can see what you have been doing. What I have been doing is breaking myself.
Throughout lockdown I had been working as you are all aware, it was a nice distraction from what was happening. Since we have entered level 2 and now level 1, I have been in the business at least six days a week, working long hours to try and catch up. Working to deliver all the vehicles that were unable to be handed over pre lockdown and selling a good number of motorhomes too. Demand has been higher than we could have imagined. I am sure the border closure has something to do with it but I am also sure that Kiwis are now more than aware that our little island is safe. Why risk traveling to Europe say, when you have not explored your own back yard. New Zealanders have always been great travellers and I am sure they will be once again, but for now it will be closer to home.
All of this has built pressure right across the business. From the offset we didn’t bring all our staff back from discretional leave; how could we rightly see how the business demand was going to be. Equally we cannot see into the future, so business decisions had to be made on the perceived business performance of the next few years. Consultation, job loses, restructuring and all the time whilst we try to continue service delivery. A service that is selling more vans with less staff. It had always been the case that we would allow a fortnight from point of sale to check everything, add any accessories, service, WOF, and valet the vehicle ready for collection. Demand has been so high we are already outside of this SLA and are trying to manage client expectations, please be patient. We are less trying to do more; we are all feeling the pressure but making unrealistic demands will not help. Add this to our existing customers who want service work done and you can see the fight we all have.
I personally am big enough to stand up and say I am broken, both physically and emotionally. I need time away. But it’s not time away, I still have customers calling, texting or emailing questions. Threats to cancel deals if their van is not prepared first and for the first time in my sales life, I can honestly say I don’t care. I have to put myself and my colleagues first, our own health is more important than your holiday. I am sorry if you read this and don’t like this sentiment but I am drained.
Months back I tried to right a piece on the emotion of sales but it upset me to much so I deleted it, now is the time for me to try again. I hope it will explain what we are all feeling right now.
Sales is an amazing thing; when you are selling you can’t go wrong. Everything you touch seems to turns to gold. You are riding an emotional high, your energy levels know no bounds. You are enthusiastic, bubbly and energetic; a real pleasure to be around. But when it goes wrong and you can’t buy a deal, all the self-doubt and disbelief creeps in. You feel tired, you start blaming others, yourself, and it feels everyone is against you. I have always tried to rationalise it like a sinewave, you have to take the highs with the lows but if you can concentrate on the mean average you will be ok.
It still never quite works. As salespeople we are chasing the highs, it’s hard to explain but when you get it right there is a buzz to be had from it. Maybe we are addicts? Probably in a way we are; but for every high there must be a low. That I have always managed. A good Sales Manager will help you with it to and I am lucky I have had some absolutely amazing ones over my time. Sometimes it’s just a chat, to remind you what you can do, sometimes there will be a deal bubbling in the back ground that will be thrown your way. It’s an amazing thing how one sale breads another and suddenly you are back in the game. But this time it is different, selling isn’t the problem and that’s what I’ve been struggling to understand. Get the customers in front of me and I can put on the game face and perform. Only the drug isn’t working, I am not getting the highs anymore. What I am getting is the feeling of pressure pushing down on me, the more I sell the greater this pressure gets. It’s almost like a heavy dark blanket is thrown over me. I can feel it now as I write this, my arms are heavy, I have a pressure on my head and the emotions are building within me. Yet the joy of a sale is what I chase? For the first time in my life, I have had to step away from something I love doing for the good on my mental health: there I have said it. I can admit I am struggling and the more I write the less I understand why. Everything I have done in my sales career has been about winning, about chasing the deal. Now I have deals a plenty and all I have is this darkness over me.
I am sure you can understand why I have been struggling to write this piece and why now having laid it all out why I can’t make sense of it. My hope is by doing so it will give confidence to others to not suffer in silence. As salespeople we might have the perception of being scum but believe me it’s a skill and not everyone can do it. But inside we are all the same and we all suffer to greater or lesser extents with our emotions.
I will take a moment to thank all of my customers and to the RVSC staff that tried to help me. For now, I will take a break. Spend some time with my wife, little dog and friends. I am sure I will pop up in sales in some form or another next year, like I said despite everything it’s a drug for us and even if I do say so myself, I am quite good at it. But for now, I have a golf handicap that needs some serious attention. I also have a blog I have been seriously neglecting.