“Hi there, I’ve come to see Steve”, I said brightly.
As a man they returned their gaze to their computer screens.
They all had the hunched and dejected look of a team that resides at the bottom of the bottom league who are beaten every week they play.
One of them got up, slowly, so slowly I wondered what he was doing at first.
“I’ll take you”, he said and proceeded to walk through a connecting door that led into a cold, musty corridor with a staircase squirreled away at the bottom.
I followed, introducing myself and getting the grunted reply, “Dave Smith, Sales”.
Dave didn’t look like any sales person I’ve ever seen. He was wearing a rather dull grey tank top over a white shirt with sleeves rolled to the elbows. His ensemble was completed by a pair of badly creased blue chinos and scruffy brown shoes.
We got to the top of the steep flight of stairs and Dave took me into a cramped room dominated by the biggest desk I’d ever seen. The large, comfy looking leather chair contained a young woman who was completely surrounded by piles of paper and with a mobile ringing for her attention.
“Hold on”, she said and scrabbled through the papers before locating the errant phone.
“Sally will sort you out”, Dave said and wandered out of the room and back down the stairs.
Sally finished her conversation and switched her attention to me. “Sorry about that”, she said, “we’ve got the auditors coming next week and I’d forgotten you were coming”.
Which was strange as Sally had only arranged the meeting with me the previous week, less than 6 days ago.
I made a non-committal noise and said, “So where’s Steve?”
She got out of her chair and shook my hand, almost as an afterthought and then asked me to follow her.
We walked down the corridor and she stopped halfway down and looked over the frosting to see whether anyone was in. Then she opened the door and ushered me to Steve’s office.
Steve got up from his seat.
“Thanks for coming Jim we thought it would be useful to get an outside view of the company”, he said.
I looked round his office as I sat down and noticed the lovely picture of his family and also the dusty model of a sailing ship on a large bookcase containing just two books.
Sally closed the door for us and I could hear her shoes briskly tapping down the hall as she went back to her office.
Steve began to tell me everything that was wrong with the current economy and the reasons why they just weren’t getting sales. The reasons simply tripped from his tongue. He claimed that Dave had an impossible job to do because he knew the prospects too well! That meant he didn’t push them to make any decision. And unfortunately as Dave was also a highly skilled programmer he tended to let himself get sucked into helping on client projects. Which meant the sales force was often down by one man.
In addition two years ago Steve had taken on a saleswoman called Jean who had been bubbling with ideas at her interview but since then had made one small sale.
Now what thing(s) had given me a clue regarding the state of the company? Oh, and don’t worry the people and this company is pure fiction, however every element has happened in at least one company I’ve coached!