Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Appearances matter

I've had some funny experiences over the past few months with software vendors parading their wares in my workplace. The experience is probably similar in any field when corporate sales are involved. Most of the time the sales people go heavy on the gloss and light on the detail. They spend more time selling the image of their product than the product itself.

And the sales people themselves can be pretty funny. Sometimes they're so smarmy they make me want to wash my hand after shaking hands with them but most of them are OK while leaning heavily to the enthusiastic side of things, personality-wise. I'm a big believer in letting people be themselves but in a sales setting, the salespeople aren't really people. They're animated glossy advertisements for their product. So I always find it interesting when they fall somewhat short in the personal presentation stakes.

Anyone who has watched any of my videos will probably have noticed that I tend to ar-tic-u-late when I speak. This mostly comes from the theatre and radio work I did when I was at college. It still comes in handy when I do my job - I have to do a lot of presentations and speaking clearly helps in these situations. So while I notice the physical appearance and presentation of salespeople, my impression is most coloured by the way they talk.

One of the big software companies sent out a cockney guy as their sales rep. He seemed to know his stuff and I'm sure he wasn't really a criminal but I couldn't stop picturing him as Arthur Daley trying to pull a dodgy deal. "Leave it out Guv'nor, there's no bovver wiv dis gear." There I go being racist against white people again.

Another one had a distinct overbite and seemed quite self-conscious of the fact (I'm indulging in a bit of amateur psychoanalysis here). He hardly parted his jaws when he talked which made him talk mostly in a monotone. I think the Australian accent tends towards the nasal and his way of talking really exaggerated this in a way I found quite annoying.

My favourite was the last one who had what I can only describe as "disco hair". I can only describe it this way, not because I have a limited vocabulary but because it's the best way to describe his hair. There was a lot of it and it was really thick. His method of styling seemed to be "put in huge gobs of product then drive with your head stuck out the car window". He ended up with this huge swept back bouffant that made him look like he was standing in a wind tunnel.

I don't even remember what was in his presentation because I never got past thinking "Man, what the fuck is the story with your hair?"

So what is my dress style at work? I'm not telling you. This is because describing what I wear would completely blow my anonymity. My work wardrobe could politely be described as "individual" or "idiosyncratic". More often, the description would be along the lines of "fucking weird". If I gave any more detail, anyone I have worked with would instantly know it was me. So you'll have yo use your imagination. But rest assured, nobody would ever put me to work in sales.

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