One of the great things about toiling in the service of my dark corporate overlords is the inadvertent humor that can often occur, as evidenced by the story I told earlier this week about the corporate fox hunt. Without blowing my deep cover, and giving up too many details about who I am and what it is that I do, let me just say that my job is to manage new business development, and as such my group serves a wide variety of markets, everything from medical devices, to automotive electronics, to consumer goods, to surfboards. Yes, we sell our products to people who make surfboards. That’s one of the coolest parts of working in this group. Other than feasting on the blood on the proletariat, obviously.
So when one of my sales people got a phone call from a gentleman a few weeks ago who was interested in buying some of our products for “a small electronic device”, she didn’t really think too much of it. The guy identified himself as being from “Standard Innovation Corporation”. As bland and boring a company name as you can imagine.
The salesperson did what she does with all new projects and talked with the customer to determine any key performance characteristics that he required, as well as the annual volume, and target pricing. While he answered most of her questions, he seemed to be a little vague regarding the actual product application. In a business where often times our customers are releasing new products into the consumer markets, secrecy is pretty common. Before he hung up though he told her that if she wanted to see the product she could Google it, but he wasn’t sure if the site would be blocked by our IT security or not.
So after she hung up, the salesperson tried to get to the website, and discovered that it was indeed blocked by the IT filter. So she put in a request to IT to get access to the website, and cc’d me. Again, no big deal. Pretty much standard operating procedure.
The name of the product is the “We-Vibe”, and let’s just refer to it here as a, umm… “marital aid”. When I saw the name of the product, and heard her story, I had pretty good idea what it was thanks to a post I read on Dufmanno’s blog a few years ago. (Sister always said she’d be a bad influence on me.)
I laughed so hard I had tears coming down my face. When I told the salesperson what it was she turned three shades of purple. The request to IT to get access to the website of an adult novelty product made its way through HR to my boss lady, who is Vice President of our group. Who then approached me to sheepishly ask if “there was a reason” that our salesperson needed to get access to “this website.”
Friends, I cannot tell you how many great one liners flashed through my mind at that moment. Things like “I’m not sure, you’ll have to ask her husband…” or “Yes, she has a Doctor’s prescription” to “Yes, surprisingly. Even though the company has been screwing her for years, she is not getting much pleasure out of it.” But you would be amazed to learn that I managed to keep a straight face and told the boss lady the story without a single smart remark. It damn near killed me.
So no further mention was made about the request to IT, and site remains blocked on the corporate computers. Meanwhile, I think our salesperson has had a note placed in her permanent record. As for me, I really hope we get the order. I am dying to put it in our product display cabinet, with no note about what it is, just to see if people can figure it out.
In the mean time, we’ve had to devise a code word for this project so that we can all keep a straight face when discussing it in meetings. It’s also been interesting how many of my employees have expressed interest in attending one of their trade shows. That’s just the kind of selfless, team-first, employees that I am blessed to have.
If we win this business I’m thinking of giving them to the entire team as Christmas presents next year.