Ghosts of National Sales Meetings Past
Do You Think Anyone Knows?
The Medical Device and Pharmaceutical Industries are notorious for having meetings about having meetings. And prior to that, we had conference calls about conference calls which reference the meetings about having meetings. And, don’t get me started on the number of emails that correspond with each event. All of which is a great waste of time and money (both corporate and personal).
Usually once a year, the entire company descends on a resort in a warm climate, like a bunch of drunk and horny locusts for their National Sales Meeting (NSM). And these locusts are so excited to have ‘permission’ slips from their partners since it’s ‘for work,’ they’ve adopted a ‘what happens in Vegas’ mentality. So much so, that almost 20 years ago, the pharmaceutical industry adopted a ‘roommate,’ mandate at all meeting. The thought was that if people were forced to room together there would be greater accountability. It was rumored that two reps had an affair at a meeting, and when their spouses found out they sued the pharmaceutical company. Most device companies have since adopted the same policy.
These meetings can cost upwards of a few million dollars. And I’ve never figured out why exactly these meetings were in warm resort climates. They have you trapped in a morgue-like (some idiot somewhere said that people stay more awake when it’s cold-Ummm how about just having relevant topics with intelligent speakers?) ballroom for 15 hours a day. Reps are constantly moving, so to strap them in a chair and to talk ‘at’ them for 15 hours is the torture equivalent of Gitmo. I’d take a good old fashioned waterboarding any day over an insipid videotaped role-play.
Any rep who has been in the industry for longer than a year can write a book about what they’ve seen, experienced and have subsequently tried to unsee, ever since. So over the next few weeks look for ‘Ghosts of National Sales Meetings Past.’
Here’s a quick one to kick it off! I learned very early on it was best to barricade myself in the room after dinner and not socialize with colleagues at these meetings. If you weren’t there, people can’t talk about you.
One meeting I had a roommate I hadn’t met before. She was sweet, excited about her recent engagement and appeared to be to be normal. Then she busted out that she had slept with the Director of Sales at her former company. I was still on the ‘nice to meet you conversation,’ and she took it to the ‘confessions of professional,’ level pretty quickly. (Note to self: hovercraft over the toilet).
She had gone out after dinner; and, in my typical fashion, I had barricaded myself in the hotel room eating ice cream and watching a pay-per-view movie (not porn-piglets). I went to bed around midnight and she wasn’t back yet. Around 2 am, my phone, which was on vibrate (again, piglets), was on a table across the room, started blowing up. I ignored it and in a matter of minutes it had vibrated off the table and was making its way half way across the hotel room floor.
Initially, I thought ‘Christ, who got arrested and needs bail money?’ I figured that one of the drunk monkeys I called friends was in trouble, so I got out of bed and grabbed my phone from the center of the room (at least it met me half way, which was nice).
Here is just a sample of the texts (at least six different people texted):
- Your roommate is on fire!
- Your roommate just tried to mount the VP of Sales on the dance floor (well, at least, she was consistent, disgusting, but consistent).
- Roommate just pissed off VP of Sales avoiding her like the plague 1.Good for him 2. Career Ending Maneuver 3. All other women hate women like this (they’ll claim we’re ‘jealous’ when in reality we’re pissed that stunts like this set women back 100 years.
- She’s moved on to a Manager (Well she’s undeterred, so she’ll probably do well in sales)
The next morning, she came in as I was getting up at 6 am. Completely, unaffected by the night’s events, she went directly into ‘confessional professional,’ mode and said she slept with a manager and asked for my discretion around the event and asked if she thought other people knew.
Laughing, I responded, ‘My discretion is not what you have to worry about; and, yes people know. In fact, I knew even before you walked in the door. My phone vibrated off the table and into the center of the room at 2 am last night recounting your escapade with full commentary, video, and stills. Would you like the video and stills for your resume? Maybe the text messages as endorsements for your LinkedIn page? You’ll be lucky if someone hasn’t made it into a power point presentation for the breakfast meeting.’
She responded in tears and said, ‘Now I know why you stay in the room.’
Ahh no you don’t sister, ‘No, I stay in the room so people can’t make up things about me, you did this, own it and move the fuck on.’
- Room only with people you know
- Do lunges and squats at least 1 month prior to meeting in case you have to hovercraft over the toilet for 4 days.
- Put phone on silent before going to bed at National Sales Meetings