Accidental IT Pro #7: 'Let's Do Business, Bro!'

Our accidental IT pro columnist returns. In today's episode, Jason crosses paths with the slimiest of IT professionals: the Sales Bro.

Sales picture from Shutterstock

Die-hard fans among you may remember my last tale, in which our intrepid hero shipped a customer's order to Singapore by mistake and thus created a diabolical monstrosity known as the Angry Executive.

Did I survive the wrath of the Angry Executive? Am I still inexplicably employed? Will the new Doctor ever replace David Tennant in my heart? The answers to those questions and more await in this thrilling installment of me writing nonsense about my job.

The conclusion to the Angry Executive story arc could actually not be less thrilling, but you're already a hundred words into my article and the hooks are in!

Sucker.

I dodged and weaved under a few angry phone calls while we were waiting for the equipment to get back from Singapore, and eventually the order was back in my hands and I was on my way to deliver it to the customer's site.

I recruited one of our burlier engineers to come with me and watch my back in case things popped off, but when I arrived at their office the Angry Executive wasn't even there. I scribbled a 'sorry' note on a post-it and left the packages on his desk, then disappeared into the shadows. Mission accomplished.

Imagine my surprise when, a few days later, I received a phone call from the customer not only thanking me for my help with their order but also asking me to send them a quote for even more equipment! The Angry Executive had reverted back to his original form, the IT Veteran, and was an absolute pleasure.

A far cry indeed from the next entry in the bestiary:

The Sales Bro

Recognisable by their practiced smile and shiny slug trail, the Sales Bro is slimy to the touch and will do anything to close a deal. Composed almost entirely of non-Newtonian fluid, the Sales Bro appears to be a solid but is actually a liquid, able to slime his way into conversations and take the shape of any container he is put in. While I haven't been able to confirm this, I believe they do behave like a solid if you hit them hard enough.

I had the misfortune of running into a particularly bad specimen at a conference I was asked to attend. The conference was to sell a piece of software that we already use at our company, my boss just thought it would be a good way for me to learn a bit more about it.

My boss came with me for the first hour or so, and then scurried off to do mysterious boss things, leaving me to fend for myself. It all went smoothly until we broke for lunch. I emerged into the hotel lobby and began attacking the free refreshment table like it was the highlight of my day (which it was).

I was chatting with some folks, handing out my business card and talking about the excellent sandwiches that were on offer, when a young man slid up to me through the crowd. He had both hands outstretched, one proudly displaying his business card and one for me to shake.

"Hey bro, who do you work for?" He asked through a smug grin while gripping my hand impossibly hard and shaking it vigorously.

I looked at his business card.

"One of your competitors actually! Will you get in trouble if you're seen talking to me?"

I tried to maintain a bit of small talk, but the Sales Bro made it pretty clear that our conversation was over now that he had no use for me.

"Alright bro, I'm gonna go work the room."

He shook my hand and disappeared in a puff of Ninja Gaiden smoke, reappearing across the room powering towards another person with his hands outstretched. I sat and watched him do this for the entire lunch break; bouncing between conversations like a greasy pinball.

I think the worst part of this experience was the realisation that this slimy man was who I was destined to become. Maybe me sitting on my seat and having pleasant conversation with the people sitting immediately around me was in fact me being bad at my job. The idea of constantly chasing targets and only talking to people for as long as they can be of any use to me seems pretty gross, but maybe I'm thinking about it the wrong way.

I'm obviously still learning and I'm not at all sure where I want to end up, but whether it's a change of department or a dramatic backflip to a new industry, it's becoming clear that maybe a change is on the horizon for little old me.

Accidental IT Pro is an occasional Lifehacker series where Jason Dean (not his real name) shares his misadventures as he tries to climb the IT career ladder.


Comments

    "If you shoot enough bullets you're bound to hit something eventually." - Bro tactics 101.

    What's more valuable to you, making two really good connections at an event or handing out fifty of your business cards?

    Short-term tactics like that are obvious and obnoxious. Don't be the Sales Bro. Be the one who gets to know people and build an understanding of how you can help them. Not how they can help you.

    Jason, I think I know what you mean, your story twinged a lost lost memory of my last interaction with a greasy pinball. I was working for a big company, big enough to take over a groovy water-hole on Friday nights. Must have been way past midnight and I was sitting at the bar, an unambitious propellerhead with a gaggle of rather luscious and loosemouthed creative gals slagging off clients. I did notice at the far dark and unattended end of the bar, a smoothly coiffered but slightly ragged at the edges sales type, obviously planning a move. Eventually he slithered across to insert himself in the conversation and chose an unfortunate opening gambit, a little more loudly than he probably intended. "What is it with you creative types? Why don't you like sales people?" The bar suddenly went very quiet. Fifi (I'm not sure that was her real name but she looked like a Fifi and I often wondered if she was edible), swung precariously around and drew herself up to her full 4' 11". She placed a patronising hand lightly on his sleek suit sleeve, said, "Dahling, it's not that we don't like you, it's just we never know what to tip you".

    Jason, or rather Life Hacker webmaster, I don't know whether the memory of all those cocktails that night has induced a hallucination, but I could swear I just saw a side column advertising a vibrating pant zipper - would that mean I would never miss another cell call in a meeting?

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