08 Dec 2014

Ralph and I decided to take a train between Barcelona and Madrid on a recent holiday in Spain. We figured it'd be nicer than a plane as then we'd get to see the Spanish countryside. Both of us being from Chicago, however, has left us with an interesting expectation set regarding train logistics; when we think 'train' we think the L. You know, mass transit, subway-style trains. The kind of trains with fixed prices and regular schedules. Yea... 

Back in Barcelona, we wake up around 09:30 and decide to try to catch the 11:00 to Madrid. This was the only train we could really afford that day anyway, because - as it turns out - train, like plane, tickets are much more expensive day of. So, I frantically packed our possessions while Ralph researched the route. We made it out of the hotel by ten after ten, power walked to the metro, and began the first leg of this journey.

Transfers aren't as quick at European train stations as they are in Chicago. I'm used to hopping off one train and promptly onto another. Worst case scenario I might need to do a flight of stairs. Soooo not the case here. With my over stuffed, twenty eight kilo, bright pink suitcase in tow we plodded our way up and down four flights of stairs and through what had to be easily a kilometer of tunnels. By the time we arrived at the cross country train’s ticket counter it was ten minutes to eleven; we were both sweating buckets - literally and figuratively.

Only one more flight of stairs stood between us and a nice ride to Madrid. So we shuffle on down and with one final application of Chicago-style train autopilot we dash through the first open door we saw. Whew! We made it!

It wasn't until after I tetris'd our gear into a cubby that I realized these trains have assigned seating. Who knew? After looking a little lost, a kind gentleman pointed us on the direction of coche 18. Ralph retrieved our bags and we made or way towards our seats. Out of car five, through car six, past car seven, across car eight ... as I approached coche number nine I knew something was off. The car looked short and the door was different. I stopped.

By this time all the sweat was literal. Wearing a sweater: horrible idea. We were at a dead end, nine cars away from our seats, on a bumpy express train, already barreling down the tracks. We needed a plan, and I didn’t have one. So I stayed with the bags while Ralph searched for help. 

He returned with good news and bad. As Ralph explained how we were on the right train but could not access our car I couldn't help but think about how often we get super far down the sales cycle before realizing we failed to read a crucial sign.

What happens when we miss a decision maker? Or neglect procurement? Or ignore legal? Or overlook the budget? Not a lot of good, I can tell you that much. Sure Ralph and I lucked out - the lady let us stay in the first class car - but in the cycle of sales, seldom do screw ups score you an upgrade.

So this week, slow down! When you take the time to double check the details, and set autopilot aside for a moment, you'll be much more likely to catch the express train to the close.

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Last modified on Thursday, 08 January 2015 20:06
Erin Wilson

I find great amusement in everyday absurdities and am constantly surprised by how my bar-ventures, my travels, and even my food-qusitions relate to the shenanigans that is software sales. I am grateful for the opportunity to leverage the Sapient Salesman as an outlet to share with you my follies, and I hope you can enjoy the schadenfreude.

Website: ebullienterin.com/

Erin Wilson is the author and publisher of the Sapient Salesman

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