Monday, June 25, 2012

Account Rep Failure (ARF)

Sales is a tough business. From Real Estate to Cars to Jewelry to Pharmaceuticals, there are certain methodologies that are tried and true if you are going to be successful.  Ask any person who makes there living selling - it doesn't matter what the commodity or service is, you have to know your client and know how to close the deal.

For two years back in the early eighties I sold girls. Okay, I'm exaggerating slightly, but I was a sales representative for Kelly Services, the largest temporary staffing company in the nation at the time (they used to be called "Kelly Girls")  I had just gotten a divorce, had two young children and never held a real sales job of any substance. My initial interview for a Placement Supervisor ended in a bust, as I had no office experience, but several weeks later I was called in for another interview for an Account Representative position. "I think you'll be good at it", my future boss said. "The starting salary is over $12,000 a year."  I was beside myself...$1,000 a month...holy cow, I'm rich and who needs a man!

As an Account Rep for Kelly, my job was to develop new business for our pool of talented men and women, stepping into positions within the client company on a temporary basis. I would make appointments with executives, line managers and HR professionals at companies in the area, telling and selling the benefits of using temporary staffing. And as a good sales rep, I also kept our current clients happy and feeling valued.  However, the majority of my day was cold calling and on site drop in calls...sort of like door knocking.  At the end of the day I would have to record my calls and visits on little 3X5 cards for my Manager's perusal...and approval.

One Monday afternoon, I wrote on a note card representing the last call of my day:

Account Rep Failure!

"That's it?" my boss inquired. "What the heck does that mean?" The note card was for a big company that I had been calling on for over 6 months to no avail.

"Let me explain," I managed. "Though Kelly might classify my call as a colossal failure, I think I got the account!"

I had walked into the lobby for the umpteenth time and asked for the HR guy - I'll call him Joe.  For some reason, the little receptionist actually gives Joe a call and miraculouosly he agrees to come out into the lobby to meet me face to face.  He was all smiles as he walked up to shake my hand, and I am beside myself, excited to win him over with my charm and knowlege of our services.  I had worn my best suit that day and in my head I'm thinking that I looked like this:

Joe is listening intently at my pitch, nodding, agreeing asking me questions. Boy, I think I've finally got him interested after all this time. I'm mentally patting myself on the back, counting my future comissions, yapping on and on about all the good things we can do for his company, and he is still nodding, smiling and agreeing.

We shake hands, I give him my card and promise a follow-up sitdown session to gather all the necessary background information on what his staffing needs might be.  He readily agrees, much to my delight. I walk out of the building practically skipping.  I am on cloud nine. Check me out-I am the number one Kelly Account.... At that very moment, interrupting my jubilant reverie, I happen to look down. Stopped me dead in my tracks - my blouse was unbuttoned to my waist.  My pretty little lace bra was stunning in the sunlight of the parking lot.

To Joe, I probably looked more like this:

Moral of the story: Do whatever you have to do to sell your client, but don't leave home in a blouse that looks like this:

It's a sure ARF if ever there was one.  But hey, I did get the client and the next time I visited Joe to thank him for using Kelly, I wore a turtleneck. My boss and I laughed about my "ARF" for months... I think it became a technical term for future Kelly reps to describe a failed sales call.

Laurel. Be careful not to get too full of yourself...


  1. Goodness, girlfriend, but you are such a kick! Kathy Sherman

  2. Too funny, and well written :) PS. Great photo of you!!

  3. Oh no I'm feeling your embarassment :))
    It's a funny story and well told,thanks for sharing.

  4. Good lesson. :) Enjoyed the story. Terry

  5. That was good! You would have had me hooked as a client!

  6. thanks for the chuckle. Great story-telling :D

  7. I'm sure it was a great story but by the time I came to the 2nd photo, all I could do was nod and smile and nod and smile....


  8. Wearing my shirt unbuttoned never got me anywhere.

    Cranky Old Man


Thanks for visiting my blog. I appreciate all those who share and leave their comments very much. Laurel

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