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Imagining the Sale

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16th Mar 2008 | 12:30 pm
location: Brooklyn, New York
disposition: energeticenergized
diversion: Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus

In upper management in Corporate America, it was constantly instilled in us, so that we could constantly instill it in those with whom we worked, that everybody's job--whether we resided in accounting or payroll or rates or worked on the dock--that whatever one's title happened to be, we were all in sales.

Yes, we had a designated sales team whose responsibility it was to go out and deal directly with, and generate revenue from, our customers; but we also knew that any contact the rest of us might have with these customers, either on the phone or by mail or via the Internet, also impacted their perception of doing business with our company. Call it politeness, call it common decency, call it do-unto-others, what it truly came down to was: we were all in sales.

The irony is, though sales and I clashed often through the years (since my department was in the position of establishing the pricing levels that sales would in turn have to sell to the customers, we were automatically diametrically opposed: our making sure the company made a profit versus their desire to present something economically attractive to the customer), what I learned from sales has better equipped me for my "new life" (i.e., self-employed) than any other skill I took away with me from C.A.

Until this morning, it hadn't occurred to me that this wisdom applies to writing, as well. This "miniphany" came to me in the midst of a four-and-a-half hour power outage that enabled me to catch up on my reading. According to Richard Ford's existential realtor Frank Bascombe in Independence Day :

The art of the sale first demands imagining the sale.

It suddenly dawned on me that, as writers, if we're doing our jobs correctly, we're selling our readers that, fiction or nonfiction, fantasy or science fiction, self-help book or expansive volume on the sex life of the tsetse fly, every word we've written is true. That what we say happened really happened. As writers, we're telling our readers that, if they trust us, we'll deliver.

But we can't do that unless we ourselves also believe what we're saying. And in order to do that, we have to imagine the sale.

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Comments {1}

Deborah Avery

Excellent point.

from: nyexeccoach
date: 16th Mar 2008 08:16 pm (UTC)
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This says it all:

"...expansive volume on the sex life of the tsetse fly"

Now I understand why you've got that tsetse fly farm in the attic. But that still doesn't explain the diminutive porn collection.

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