The sales from that first barbeque had Bob riding high all month. Traffic had continued flowing in from people who hadn’t been able to make the cookout but decided to come to take a look anyway. A few of those had turned into sales too, but Bob wasn’t in as good a mood as he should have been.
Today’s traffic was nonexistent. It didn’t make any sense. Sure, it was still early in the day, but that hadn’t stopped people last week. They’d already been walking the lot when Bob opened up the office. But today, nothing. It was like he was right back to square one.
“Absolutely. I don’t mind walking you through it at all. I’m here until eight tonight if you’re available to come down,” Marcus was telling someone on the phone.
When he hung up, Bob asked, “Who was that?”
“A couple from the second barbeque. They had a lot of questions and weren’t super into the crowd. I told them I could give them a call this week.”
And then he’d actually done it. It made Bob smile. The kid might be an unlikely RV salesman, with his ten-speed bike, but he was dedicated. “Didn’t you sell something on Wednesday to a guy who came in on Monday, too?”
Marcus nodded. “He wanted to know about some model specs I didn’t have handy, so I called the rep and then emailed him. I don’t know why the difference between alder and walnut was so important to him, but I guess we had what he wanted.”
Steve, who’d come in to refill his travel coffee mug, scoffed. “Why didn’t you just tell him it was walnut? Or that it was discontinued?”
Bob was about to intervene, but Marcus spoke up for himself. “Because it mattered to him, and I don’t lie to the customers.”
“I ride a bike because I like the exercise,” Marcus muttered as the door closed.
It was as good a reason as any, Bob supposed. It looked all kinds of strange to him, but it didn’t seem to be stopping the kid from moving RVs, so who was Bob to judge. He pulled the door open and followed Steve out.
“Steve. How many people have you followed up with this week?”
Steve arched an eyebrow, leaning against a used Kingsport they’d taken in a few months back. “In case you haven’t noticed, I’ve been out here, taking care of the customers we actually have instead of the ones who already walked away.”
Bob looked around at the empty lot. “Breaking a sweat, are you?”
The glare Steve sent him was just shy of murderous. “You’re supposed to bring in the prospects. I’m supposed to be ready to sell them when they come. It’s not me not doing my job.”
Insolent prick. Like he couldn’t see everything Bob had been doing to try and fill the lot with people. “Tell you what. For the next hour, I’ll do your job while you go inside and follow-up with prospects.”
Steve didn’t move.
“Is there a problem?”
His shoe scuffed the pavement. “I don’t have anyone to follow up with. I sold everyone who was going to buy, anyway.”
It was Bob’s turn to raise an eyebrow. “You mean you didn’t bother getting contact information for anyone.”
“If they were going to buy, I sold them. I’m not going to waste my time getting someone’s email when I could be selling to the next guy.”
Oh, yes he was. Marcus’ success proved it wasn’t a waste. Steve could pretend he was the god of all salesmen if he wanted, but they both knew it wasn’t true. He was good—he wasn’t that good.
“Come with me.” Bob walked back to the office at a fast clip, calling for Tony on his way in. “Tony! Staff meeting. Come on inside.”
Marcus was still typing away on the computer, so Bob gathered everyone up around the cluttered financing desk just to the side of the reception area.
“Can we all agree,” Bob began, “that sending those emails this month did more for business than anything we’ve tried in the last year?”
He didn’t bother looking at Marcus—he knew the kid was on board. Tony’s nod was loose and agreeable. Steve though…Steve’s assent came in the form of a half-shrug.
Bob tried not to let it irritate him, with mixed success. “Those emails were sent to someone who already knew about the lot. Either from me or because they’d been here already.” He looked pointedly at Steve, remembering some of the things the Mahar guy had said during his presentation. “Whether that email goes out to one hundred people or a thousand, it takes the same amount of effort to make. But a thousand gets a lot more people on the lot.”
“You want us to start getting people’s email addresses?” Tony asked. He didn’t sound confident, but it didn’t sound like a refusal either.
Steve sighed, looking around like he had somewhere better to be.
“It’s not that hard,” Marcus volunteered. “Easier than getting them to hand over hundreds of thousands of dollars on an impulse visit, that’s for sure.”
Bob nodded. “Today, I want you guys to get email addresses from any customer that doesn’t leave with an RV. Marcus has been trying it out, so if you need ideas, ask him. At the end of the day, we’re going to compare notes.”
A middle-aged man in a polo shirt walked into view through the showroom windows just then, and Steve took off without a word. Bob had been just about done, anyway, so he finished up with Tony and Marcus. “This is good for all of us, so give it your best, guys.”
They left the office with Marcus telling Tony about what had worked for him so far.
All in all, it turned out to be a decent day. They probably didn’t need all four sales guys on the lot—traffic wasn’t that strong—but it allowed them to spend ample time with the people who did come by, and Steve and Tony both managed to sell an RV before the day was done. Bob was glad to see it. Of the three of them, Tony had the fewest units on the board and was probably the one who needed it the most.
When the last customer left, Bob gathered them all back together. “Marcus, how many emails did you get?”
“Five,” he said, looking more than a little proud of himself.
“Three,” Tony answered, cringing. “But I think I’m finally getting the hang of it.”
“Steve?” Bob’s question was met with silence. “You had six ups today. How many emails did you get?”
The best salesman Robby’s RVs had stuck his hands in his pockets and said, “None.”
Bob had had about enough of Steve and his attitude. “I made myself pretty clear this morning.”
“And I actually sold something today, unlike your whiz kid.” Steve fired back. “I don’t tell you how to do your job. Don’t tell me how to do mine.”
It was too far. Anybody with half a brain could see that Marcus had quadrupled his effectiveness by following up. He might not have beat Steve for the day, but he was definitely past him for the month and Steve had just wasted six ups they had no way to get back on the lot. “Get your shit and get off my lot. I’ll mail you whatever commission you’re owed by the end of the week.”
Everyone was surprised, not the least of them being Bob. He’d opened his mouth expecting to say…something, but not that. He could have benched him. Told him to take the week off. Put him on office work until he shaped up. But Steve digging his heels in over something as small as an email was just one more thing in a long line of issues between them, and the moment Bob told Steve he was fired, he felt relieved.
That, more than anything, told Bob he’d made the right decision.
Steve appeared to agree with him. He laughed, pulling his car keys out of his pocket. “You’ll be out of business by the end of the year anyway. I might as well get in at RV Superstore while I can snag some seniority.”
There was no need for Bob to say anything else. Nobody was pushing him out. Robby’s RVs would still be in business long after RV Superstore fired Steve for his bullshit attitude—if they even hired him in the first place. If that Allan guy was any indication of their sales staff, they’d laugh Steve right off the lot.
Allan. The thought gave Bob an idea. He pulled out his cell phone while Marcus and Tony stared, wide-eyed, like he’d grown a third arm or was about to explode. “Hey, Allan. It’s Bob Martin. You showed me around a Grand Tour a couple weeks back.”
He couldn’t say for sure if Allan actually remembered him or not, but if he didn’t, he did a great job of pretending.
“No, I don’t think the Grand Tour is going to work out for me, but I wanted to talk to you about something else. I own Robby’s RVs down the road, and I am short a salesman. Any chance I can buy you lunch on Monday and we can talk?”