|Posted on March 11, 2011 at 4:43 PM|
Yesterday, a guy walks into our store and introduces himself as the new rep for one of the major lines we sell. I had just gotten back from my Lutron/Runco trainings and was at the store by myself trying to work through all the old paperworks and messages and whathasits and I totally wasn’t expecting a rep visit. So I say, “Oh, man. I’m sorry. Did I know you were coming? I totally wasn’t expecting a rep visit...”
So he assures me that no, we didn’t have an appointment, that he was just that he was passing our store on the way to another account and that he wanted to pop in and say hello and that he would be available to get together with us tomorrow should we want to have a chat and maybe go to lunch. So I say, “Wow! That’s great!” actually meaning it. I mean, I love a free lunch! But I meant the other part too, even though you were probably expecting sarcasm. We’re actually in the midst of our biggest install with this company’s products and I thought we could go over what we were doing, and maybe he could meet with our guy, Andy, that is racking and programming the job and maybe point out some better practices or something. I don’t know. Something. Something embiggening. So we make a plan for him to come back the next day and all is dandy.
So he arrives and before we get started my partner Al – who conveniently is not here for the meeting – wants me to relay our displeasure over our previous rep from the company. We found out that the rep was selling stuff sideways around us to non-authorized dealers who were then selling and installing stuff or recommending dealers from out of our area to do jobs right in our back yard. (Once quite literally RIGHT in our backyard; a major job like 2 miles from our store.) And that our numbers with the company would probably be a lot stronger if we had gotten a more “we’re all on the same team here!” kind of support. So he assures us that that isn’t how he does business and that won’t happen on his watch and how he can’t change the past he can only be responsible for today going forward and all those classic “We all know the old guy sucked, but I’m the new guy and I’m here to be YOUR guy!” lines.
So we walk into the room where we’ve got two full Middle Atlantic racks of his company’s gear stacked up and we start showing him what we’re doing and my employee, Andy, says something really benign like, “When will there be direct video connections to a touchpanel?” and this sets my man OFF on like this 30 minute tirade about video and video distribution.
The speech starts off something like, “If you aren’t pulling fiber or [some other kind of special wire; I can’t really remember; at this point I wasn’t aware that I was going to be tuning in to the King’s Speech] then every house you’re wiring won’t be able to get video in three years. Period.”
I let that wash over me for a second then I say, “Excuse me? Did you just say that in three years none of the existing homes are going to have video?”
“Yes. That’s a simplification but, yes.”
“Well, I totally disagree with that. There is NO WAY that they are going to disenfranchise 350 MILLION people by introducing new technology.”
“Oh, it’s already happening! You don’t have to like it, and I’m sorry if this is upsetting you, but it is.” He then goes on – and on – about how he has friends at the movie studios and the government and does work with the Department of Defense and the Justice Department and blah-blah and how he KNOWS what’s coming.
“You remember Avatar? Oh yeah. That was a test. They were testing the system. They made all the Blu-ray players report in before they could watch it. And when they reported in, they made sure they had all the latest keys and codes so that when they want to turn off the system and throw the switch, they can. The pieces are already in place. The laws have already been passed. Congress is on board.”
So I’m standing there arms crossed, looking at the floor giving off every vibe of, “Dude! We’re not on the same page here and this is not the way to win friends and influence Sciacca.” If I had a rattle it would have been buzzing.
Then he goes on to say that as of January 1, 2014 – less than 3 years away – there will be NO MORE physical discs. None. All done. Gandhi. Only streaming media. So ALL of those millions of Blu-ray players out there and the even more MA-HILLIONS of regular DVD players. Yeah. No more movies for them. Apparently the Disney vault is shutting its doors for good, because the guy continually referenced the Mouse House, but more like they were the Don Mega behind all of his information. "The government has been busy burying thousands of miles of dark fiber. They're not going to fall behind the world on information distribution. They're getting ready. Because this is gonna happen."
“No way,” says I. “There is just no way that in less than three years physical media will be COMPLETELY gone. There are a TON of people out there who aren’t going to completely switch to a full digital delivery system. Plus think of all the areas of the country where broadband isn’t readily available or affordable. What? No more movies for any of them?”
“Oh, it IS gonna happen! Look, I talk to the movie studios. Look, this isn’t what I’m saying, it’s what the industry is saying. And you don’t have to like it. But you’re gonna have to accept it. Disney, Miramax they’re all telling me the same thing. This has already been passed through Congress. You know they already made it where every component video output is limited to just 480i. You do know that, right? That’s the first step. The next step is they’ll turn it off completely. They want to be in control of every step of content delivery. To know who’s watching it, when and where. Right, I rent a movie I can walk down the street and give it to you. They can't control the Sneaker-net. They're gonna shut that down. And this is how they're gonna do it.”
Seriously, if this guy was smoking a cigarette, calling himself a Warlock and throwing around some #WINNING I would have thought that the Charlie Sheen of video crazy had stumbled into my store. INSTEAD OF MY BRAND NEW REP! THAT IS TRYING TO DEVELOP A LONG-TERM RELATIONSHIP WITH ME! ON OUR VERY FIRST MEETING! EVER!
Andy, meanwhile, can tell that I am seriously getting riled. It’s the Spidey sense he’s developed from sitting like 4 feet away from me for like 3 years. So he’s all, “Hmm? Wow? That’s interesting. Well, guess we’ll need to start pulling fiber so we’re ready! So anyway...”
But tirade Jones keeps up. “That computer you’re working on…you’ve already agreed to all of this. You’ve clicked agreements and now you’re responsible for being compliant. And if you’re in violation of it, you and your company and your customers are liable for a million dollar fine...EVERY DAY...for EVERY job...until you are back in compliance.”
So I say, “Well, I guess we’re just going to have to agree to disagree here...” looking to kind of defuse this situation which has become really tense. Like he is standing two feet away from me proselytizing the impending death of physical media and government conspiracies and what not.
But does he take my out? No. In fact, Hells to the no.
“Look, they have invested trillions of dollars into this. TRILLIONS! It’s gonna happen. I know a lot of people. And I talk to them. And I read. And I listen. And this is what is gonna happen.”
I too know a lot of people too. Industry type people. And I feel like I’m some kind of in the know. And yes, we’ll get to a streaming world some day. But I certainly wouldn’t bet on it happening ENTIRELY in three years. And certainly not so vehemently with someone I just met for the first time who I wanted to some kind of build a decent relationship with. So this goes on for a bit where I finally say, “Look, I can feel myself getting really argumentative here, and I’m not looking to have an argument. Why don’t we just move on and talk about something else.” Like, I don’t know, any of your products or this giant system standing three feet away, or anything that is remotely germane to what is happening TODAY and not some mythical Orwellian dystopia future where all video is controlled by we are one people, one will, one resolve, one cause. Our enemies shall talk themselves to death and we will bury them with their own confusion! (PS: If you got that reference, give yourself an extra-special colored-smiley Apple!)
So then after some more ranting where I am just standing there mouth pursed, arms crossed, looking down at the floor, the guy finally says, “So you have time to go to lunch?”
And I say, “No. I’m really too busy.” But I’m thinking, “Dude! Seriously?! I don’t want to spend another second with you. I would rather go and buy my own lunch and eat by myself looking into a concrete column at the far corner of a fast food place than eat with you right now. And unless ‘have time to go to lunch’ means you dropping a $20 on the counter so I can order a pizza after you leave or you running and grabbing a to-go order for me, then, uh, no thanks. No thanks at all.”
So he finally wraps up and he says, “I kind of feel that I’ve upset you with this.”
And I say, “Uh huh.”
“Well, I’m sorry; I didn’t mean to upset you.”
But he is saying “upset you” not like “I’m sorry that my totally bull-headed, over-the-top, aggressive manner and personality has come across as abrasive and ass-punchey on our very first meeting when really I should have been all benign and ‘Wow! You believe in fairies and unicorns? How great! I believe in them too! Whatever you say, new dealer!’”
No. His “upset you” is more like, “I’m sorry that my vision of the future has frightened you, young and naïve dealer. But be upset if you must, because the future is coming! And it’s a scary world out there, and you need to toughen up and get ready for it. I’m sorry that I had to be the one to lay the truth on you, but, well, it had to be done. And if the truth upsets someone, well that’s just too bad.”
So, note to future reps. When you come calling to MY HOUSE. I’m looking for smiles and “how can I help you increase your business” and “let’s look at some new products.” And then you can take me to lunch. (And lest you thought I interpolated the dialog, I had Andy vet the whole thing. He says I actually missed some stuff...)