Delayed Satisfaction

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in General
14 March 2010

This week I experienced a brutal reminder of what traveling around the Spring break can mean. Fog in San Francisco, not an uncommon weather pattern mind you, usually means planes don’t land or takeoff on time (how appropriate for this town to be so easily debilitated by some hot air derivatives), which in turn typically means you’re likely to miss any connection you have waiting for you at the other end.

I should have known right there and then and, to be honest, dabbled in the notion of taking my chances at a confirmed flight out the following day and spending that day there with friends and a nice town (when not bogged down by fog). Is it unrelenting optimism or desperation or, dare I venture a self-aggrandizing twist, a high risk taking tendency that propels us to take that leap of faith and get on the plane in hope that this time, for a change, you’ll actually make the connection and end up in your own bed that night?! Upon getting into Houston at 2 minutes prior to my connecting plane’s departure time I ran with luggage in tow across the longest possible stretch of airport corridors invented, only to reach my gate 2 minutes after it had shut the gate and the plane was in full sight only pulling away from the gate, effectively stranding me in Houston for the night. I’ll spare you the ensuing exchange with the gate agent. The terminal I found to be no calmer, less risky and calamitous than the Washington zoo with the cages and fences removed. People of all ages, with an exorbitant amount of those carefree teens and college aged kids, were everywhere. Sprawled on floors, cramming bathrooms lining up for anything that sells any foods or beverages, and of course, aggregating around the boarding gates which by now had lost any resemblance to what would be called lines on other days.   After an unwanted extra night on the road I finally made it onto a standby flight this morning. That’s where I realized the power of finally making it to your destination and NOT on your first try. Why is it that making it onto a standby seat after a miserable unnecessary night – and mind you this is on a smaller plane and not the business class seat I was assigned on the flight I missed – feels so good? The appreciation of hard-earned success truly brings more satisfaction and pleasure than that which comes simply and quickly. Nothing new granted still a worthy reminder.
And how similar is this to our life as traveling sales people? Years of experiencing working in this profession and we still enjoy the tough ones more so than the easy ones. I think I know the types of people I’m about to meet when I go to a given prospect company. After all, I’ve worked and sold to them a number of times. In the same manner as I know what to expect, for the most part, from my flight itinerary and the travails that come with that. Still, in many ways you begin all over again almost from the ground up. The dynamics changed in the market since last you were there (kind of like the weather), the people have moved around some, and what worked for you last time may only work a bit this time, or not at all even. So what you thought would be a quick and easy sale turns out to be a long and difficult one. You’re challenged with the mystery of cracking this one and getting to the nucleus of the motivations that, when figured out and worked properly, would make them want to buy your new stuff. And when they do, man does that feel good. And it doesn’t matter how many times this has happened before, or how much was involved. The psychology that drives this satisfaction is probably obvious to those who’ve studied psychology but it still fascinates me. And getting home a day late almost feels better than getting there when you were supposed to – the previous day. Only Almost though…   

Last modified on Sunday, 14 March 2010 16:26