Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Problem with Client Based Work

I am a systems engineer first and foremost, but my boss is always quick to remind us that we are really salespeople at heart.  While the people on the sales side write up the actual proposals and schmooze with potential clients using the company's season tickets for two NFL teams, we have to develop the systems those guys promised and sell the client on why they meet their standards.

Clients tend to not know a whole lot about the system we work with (after all, that's why they hire us to do it) and so explaining why it works and why it's robust enough can often be a tough sell.  They ask stupid questions but, being clients, you can't tell them that they're stupid questions - you're forced to attempt to answer it as best, and as politely, as you can while simultaneously reassuring them and moving them along.

My day yesterday was spent with a well meaning but particularly tough client in the sense that he likes to do everything himself and that he gets caught up on the minutiae of a system and spends too much time on the little things.  Oh, and he tells way too many stories about his time working for a different pharmaceutical company and his wife.

Seriously, when I put my time in my description for the 7 hours spent with him was "Listening to client tell stories about his wife".

It would be so quick and easy for me to do the things expected of me and then test them to ensure they do what they are supposed to but instead I have to walk someone who is unfamiliar with the system through every single step (including hit the "Start" button) and it straight up takes for-ev-er.

Yesterday my boss implored me to stay on top of this guy to ensure that he didn't get caught up with other stuff and we actually finished what we were supposed to do, but when he goes off on a tangent how can I reel him back in?  If he asks to be left alone to work on some aspect of something, I can't just do what I did when I used to babysit and insist that his mother demanded I stay with him at all times to make sure he does his homework.

There's such a fine line between being forceful about getting work done and being naggy, and when this guy is bringing us millions and millions of dollars worth of business, I certainly don't want to piss him off by insisting that he stop showing me pictures from his vacation and keep moving.  I try to move the activities back to work at every possible moment but when he just wants to chat, dammit he's gonna sit there and chat.

I've always thought that switching over to the sales side wouldn't be as good for me because I am not the biggest fan of client relations, even though my bosses have insisted that they think I would do well over there and hope to have me transition to sales, but maybe those client relations would be better than the ones I have now.  Less technical explanations to laypeople, more company-sponsored sporting events, lots more fancy dinners on my company card... at least if I'm an actual salesperson I can accept that my responsibilities include salesperson actions, rather than being annoyed when talking to customers and feeling like the guy in Clerks who keeps repeating "I'm not even supposed to be here!"  When I'm stuck in a tiny room with some guy for 8 hours watching him procrastinate I can't help but think to myself that this crap wasn't even in my damn job description.

Oh well.

Today I had this idea of an outfit in my head but in execution it just did not work, leaving me with very little time to find something new, so naturally I threw on a dress because that's the easiest thing.  I probably should have skipped the tights but it felt super cold in my room with the window open this morning so I figured better safe than sorry.

Also, my hair has totally returned to original color so I think I'm going to have to do this ombre shit again, which is both terrifying and annoying.  Maybe I should just quit while I'm ahead, I don't know.

dress: alice and olivia employed v back dress || sweater: j. crew jackie cardigan in deep riviera || bag: balenciaga black RH city || shoes: saks fifth avenue black label randi flats

The literal worst client just strolled in so if you'll excuse me I have to go tell him why the green light is more of a neon green and can't be changed to a kelly green.  You know, assuaging a legitimate concern.

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