Chapter Seventeen

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My first day of work was exciting. It seemed like a cool environment - young staff, good music, and nice clothing. After I was given the grand tour and was introduced to everyone, I was instructed to read the company's policies and sales manuals. I sat at a small desk in the back room, which also served as the employee's lounge.  

The following day was my first day on the sales floor. This was where I would be tested against the other top sellers. Each week, the employee's sales were posted in the back office. I made it a point to study that well, to see who my competition was. A guy named Josh was consistently the top seller each week. The week before I arrived, his total weekly sales were $4,168.89. I didn't care who he was or how he did it, but he now had a target on his back and I made it a goal of mine to destroy him. It was nothing personal, just business.  

Since I was in the back the entire day on Monday, I only had four more days until the end of the week. The sales results were posted every Monday. I was already down a day, so I had a lot of catching up to do. 

"I just sold another pair of shoes!" Josh announced to anyone willing to listen. "I'm on fire today; I'm already at eleven hundred!" he bragged.  

It was rough going for me at first. I was unfamiliar with both the product and the store layout yet, but I had hustle. I would not be outworked.  

After an hour or so, I started to find my rhythm. I made a couple of small sales, but more importantly I learned how it all worked. The sales floor was like a shark tank, with five sharks working at all times and the customers were their prey. To the untrained eye we all just looked like a bunch of sales people walking around aimlessly. In actuality, we were very much stalking our prey, getting into position, and would become incredibly hostile towards each other if another associate got too close to our customer. We would mark our territory with sayings like, 'I got these people', 'I talked to these people first', 'I'm already helping that guy'. I wasn't saying these things at first, but I was also not getting very many sales either. It was a sink or swim environment and I had to adapt quickly. "I got these guys," I said over the headset as I followed my prey up to the shoe wall.  

The first challenge was to convince an ordinary person who walked into the store to open their wallet and buy something. There were two main strategies with this: one was to catch as many fish as possible - the ol' strength in numbers play. The other tactic was to focus on catching only the biggest fish. The latter required an incredibly keen eye to read people for buying signals, a technique I had not yet perfected in this environment. Once a big fish was identified, the goal was to get them to buy as much as possible.  

I focused on numbers. I went for the customers nobody else wanted. I sometimes had five customers at a single time. It was a juggling act that required a lot of running, but my strategy paid off. Many little sales eventually added up to a lot. Occasionally, I would get lucky and catch a big fish. 

Each night, I would take the product manuals home and study them. Then each day, I would spout all the knowledge I had just learned the night before. Over time, I became more comfortable with the store's products and their locations. I made some large sales, but took many smaller ones as well. I knew I was selling a lot, but I didn't know where I stood in terms of beating out my co-workers, especially Josh.  

I came in on Monday morning and Marc greeted me with a warm welcome. "Good morning, champ," Marc said with a very suspicious smile on his face, as if he knew something I did not. 

"Good morning," I replied. 

When I returned to the back room, I put my bag down and looked over at the sales board. Josh was standing by the latest posting, analyzing the results.  

"Hey, Josh," I said in a friendly tone. He didn't say anything back. As soon as he walked away, I went over to view the results. Josh sold an impressive $5,347.00 last week, crushing his last week's total by more than a thousand dollars. I then searched for my name. I was expecting it to be somewhere near the bottom. I eventually found it in the top spot - Trevor Morrison - weekly sales total: $11,582.00.  

"Holy crap!" I said under my breath, surprised at the result. Am I reading this correctly? I figured it had to be some sort of typo. I could hardly contain my happiness; it felt like I had just won the lottery or something. I had to be careful not to gloat in front of anyone. It was important to remain on good terms with my co-workers. I knew keeping them happy would be a huge component in my future success there. 

"Hey, Trevor. Congratulations!" Karen said to me. 

"Thanks." 

"Oh my god, did you see your sales last week?" another co-worker asked. 

"Yes, I saw, I'm quite surprised," I said. 

"Yeah, how did you sell so much?" 

"Got lucky I guess," I said humbly, trying to downplay the defeating blow I had just served to the veterans. Josh was not as pleased as the others were. He was really competitive about his sales and I had just humiliated him. I had sent a message loud and clear, there was a new top dog in town.

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