This is me...

This is me...
I'm having a mom moment....

Friday, May 25, 2012

How to Lose A Sale

If you didn't know this about me, I used to be in outside sales.  I was very good at it.  Mainly because I didn't listen to my bosses, or pay much attention to "company protocol" or anything like that when dealing with my customers.  I never read from scripts.  I abhor telemarketing and prefer to work with someone face to face.  I treated them like people, not "accounts," and I approached each sale like what it was -- either the start of or the nurturing of a relationship between ME (not the company that I worked for) and that customer. 

When I began trying to organize and arrange this move, I signed up for a free moving quote that resulted in me being contacted by what seemed like hundreds of moving companies.  Most were easy -- they called or sent an email (sometimes both) and that was that.  But there was this one guy, from this one company, that has been harassing me.  There really is no other word for what has been more than 100 phone calls and more than 20 emails over the course of the past week.  (I am altering the guy's name and the company name to protect the guilty.)  So as a service to Chazz, from Across America Moving and to any and all would be sales people, I am going to break down for you all exactly "How to Lose A Sale" -- or, "How to Be the Absolute Worst Salesperson Ever."  Since this post was inspired by Chazz, I am going to address this to moving companies, but really, this could be adapted to any product or service.

First, be sure to call at dinner time for your initial contact.  This lets your potential customer know that you don't really give a crap what they are doing -- this is all about YOU.  When they tell you that they have 3 weeks to move a family of 6 across 750 miles and that they are trying to feed their4 kids right now who are circling like a pack of rabid wild animals chanting in unison "Is it ready now?  Is it ready now?", be sure to lie through your teeth while repeating their name and telling them that you only need a few minutes.  Now, tell them that to get them the best, most accurate price, you are going to need them to go around their house measuring all of their stuff.  After they have complied as much as possible, put them on hold for 10-15 minutes while you go on a smoke break, to the bathroom, or whatever, and then come back and quote something that is at least twice what you could actually do it for. 

The next morning, around 7:45, when your potential customer is racing against the clock to get her 4 kids off to school, be sure to call her and tell her that you "spoke to your manager" and that the 2 of you have been able to reduce the price by hundreds of dollars.  Reiterate that you are working to get her the best deal possible and that you can take her deposit right now and get her on the schedule.   When she balks and tells you that she has not had a chance to discuss your original quote with her husband yet, but that she will let you know, be sure to press her to make a decision.  Busy moms love to be pressured to buy something, especially during stressful times.  Do not let it phase you when she finally cuts you off and hangs up the phone. 

Be sure to call back a few hours later that same day and give her yet another quote that is slightly lower than the second quote from a few hours ago.  Perhaps in her confusion she will go ahead and sign with you.  Send her multiple emails with the original numbers, the 2nd quote, and this newest quote with even lower numbers.  The dropping prices will convince her that you are hard at work trying to get her the absolute best deal.  Call her again at dinnertime to tell her that you were able to throw in some boxes or something.

On day three of this negotiation, your customer will quit answering the phone when you call.  This is your cue to triple your efforts.  She is playing hard to get.  Try calling 2 or 3 times in a row to see if maybe she has misplaced her phone -- you could be helping her locate it.  For every 4th or 5th call, leave a voicemail with a slightly lower price or added free services and follow up every voicemail with a new email outlining the progressively lowering price.  This is a negotiation, after all, so be sure to at least appear to be giving a little -- even $20 or $30 could get her to change her mind.

Now it is the weekend.  She is still playing hard to get.  On Saturday, call her 2 or 3 times every hour, starting before 8 am and continuing until past dinner.  Then on Sunday, call her right in the middle of church.  It is always possible that she will inadvertently answer her phone as she is fumbling to silence it during the service.  Of course, it could be that she expected you to call and has turned off her phone in anticipation, so just continue to call every hour or so.  She HAS to move and she might as well use your company.  By calling all of the time, you are making sure that your name and company are getting all of her attention.

The following week, begin saying things in your voicemails about how she is running out of time, the schedule for her moving week is filling up, she doesn't want to be stuck having to move herself, etc.  Remind her that most other companies could not acomodate her at this short notice and reitterate how hard you have been working to get her a good deal.  She will view the ever lowering price as the fullfillment of your promise to get her the best deal ever and not as a thinly veiled attempt to hide the fact that your original quote was an outrageous attempt to take advantage of her and her situation.

At some point during all of these negotiations, she will most likely send you an email telling you that she has decided not to use your company.  Do not let that deter you.  Continue to call repeatedly, at least 6 or 7 times a day.  When she finally answers her phone, play dumb about the rejection email.  Act like you never got it and try to make her feel guilty about not getting back to you when you have quite obviously spent a great deal of time on her account in the attempt to get her taken care of at the best price possible.  When she explodes and goes into a 5 minute tirade about how you have been annoying and harassing her, do not take it personally.  Just remember that this is all part of the process.  Stutter, stammer, apologize, or whatever you need to do to calm her down enough to end the call.

After the accusation of harassment, it is important to send a follow up email with a new even lower quote as an apology.  Then call her 2 or 3 times a day to make sure that she got it.  When she doesn't respond to your email or phone calls, reiterate that time is running out.  Have your manager call her and apologize and then have him reminder her that time is running out and have him offer a discount IF she calls you back today. 

When she sends you an lengthy email detailing exactly why she has been avoiding you and stating that she would rather move her stuff by burro than to use your company, and saying that all future calls will be ignored and that she has blocked your emails as spam, don't give up.  Simply give her a day to calm down, then start over as if you have never spoken to her before -- call her, state your name and company, and say that you are responding to her request for a free moving quote.

And THAT is how you lose a sale and earn the title of Worst Salesperson Ever.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

#movingprogress T-Minus 2 Weeks

Two weeks from today, I will be loading up the truck to move HOME.  I am excited, anxious, worried, stressed, elated, and a bunch of other things that I cannot put into words.  I am trying to work on everything one day at a time, but I cannot help but get overwhelmed.  I do not know what to do with a lot of the stuff that we have.  Some of it, I don't even know where it came from, and at least once a day I find myself staring at some random object that looks vaguely familiar but I am not exactly sure what it is or what it goes with. 

When we moved here from our house in Georgia, I was pregnant with kid number four and I was miserable.  I ended up throwing EVERYTHING into boxes and bins and just carting it halfway across the country thinking that I would deal with it all later.  Over the past 4 & 1/2 years, I have weeded out most of the garbage, thrown away the trash and donated the items that we no longer needed, but I am still finding things that I brought with us that I don't know why we still have.  I still have all of the kids crib bedding.  I think that the plan was originally to save them to give to my kids when they grew up and had kids of their own, but realistically, I know that they are not going to want that crap.  I finished breastfeeding my youngest almost 3 years ago but I still have all of the Medela breast milk bottles that I used with the electric pump that I have either already given away or just haven't found yet.  I have clothes from just about every age and stage of my kids lives even though I have personally donated enough to Goodwill over the past few years to keep them in business.  Apparently, I have Hoarder tendencies.

And it seems to be genetic because my kids are the same way.  All of the random crap they want to keep is making me crazy -- the notebook that has 2 sheets of paper in it that haven't been filled with galactic battle plans or "I (heart) Justin Beiber," the cardboard box that is decorated with water color and stickers and has one torn side, the electronic toy that somehow got a bath in the toilet, is missing a battery cover, and doesn't work -- it's all trash and needs to be thrown away, but my kids act as if I am trying to throw out money or something. 

I am only renting ONE truck.  We have opted to move ourselves (much to the disappointment of "Oz" from Across USA Moving and Storage who has called me LITERALLY 10 times a day to try to change my mind).  So a lot of this stuff HAS to go.  We cannot pack up garbage because my kids 'love it.'  Not to mention that since we don't actually have a house to move into, I have no idea how much room we're gonna have. 

My kids seem to think that we are moving to paradise -- we're gonna live in a mansion where everyone has their own rooms, we'll always have plenty of money to do the things they want, and we're going to buy all new stuff.  They are wrong.  The cost of living difference between there and here is minimal, and the increase in pay is not the reason that we took the job -- we took the job to go home.  And yes, things will be better as we will have more of a support system than we have ever had since we moved away, but we will still have to stay on budget and live within our means, and our 'means' are not going to skyrocket. 

I have tried very hard to stop looking for a house online because every time I come across one that is an area I would like to live, that is the right size and price, it rents before I can get there to see it.  So we are planning to move most of our stuff into storage and start looking when we get there.  However, every time I turn on the computer, I inadvertently open a new tab and search for "Rental Houses in Huntsville" and get sucked into an hour or so of perusing the listings and crunching the numbers in our budget.  I look through the pictures and try to envision our stuff in the space and then I send an email to the listing agent and get disappointed when I hear back that it is already gone.  It's a vicious cycle.

I am not a fan of uncertainty and this move is fraught with uncertainty.  I am trying very hard to focus on the task at hand of packing, sorting, and purging our stuff, and trying to remember that God is in charge and it will all be okay somehow.  I think that the idea that I might be stuck living with my family for a month or two has me a little freaked out.  It probably has them a little freaked out too.  I mean, would YOU want me and my four minions in your house for 6-8 weeks? 

Now that I have sorted through all of these thoughts and bored you all with the details of my move, I must get back to work on the packing and purging.  I must pry the trash away from my kids, throw away the half-eaten Pop Tarts (the count is up to 4, by the way), and call about the lease, the utilities and cable, and the kids school and medical records.  So much to do in such a short time.  Exciting and stressful, and an adventure that I am thankful to be making....most of the time.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Sweet Home Alabama

So, I've got some really, really, really, good news to share.  My husband went to that interview that I referenced last week and HE GOT THE JOB!!  So I get to FINALLY move back to my hometown and I am so very excited.  They called him yesterday afternoon, he accepted the offer then and there, and he starts on June 11th. 

I am leaving Texas with its insane heat and it's flying demon cockroaches for the humidity and mosquitos of my home state of Alabama.  I can't wait!!

Wait.  Today is May 17th.

I have 1, 2, 3....16, 17, 18....HOLY CRAP.  I only have 24 days to sort through, pack up, and arrange transport of all the chaos in this house.   AND I have to clear my DVR because I don't think I can take it with me.

The company is paying his relocation, but he doesn't get that money until his first day of work.  So basically it will be reimbursement.  This will probably be fine.  We have moved too many times to count.  Every time we move, we've had new family members, so it has gotten increasingly difficult.  The relocation package this time is substantial, and I know what is involved in moving ourselves, so I am tempted to hire a mover.  I decided to do a little Google based research.

Let me make a suggestion -- if you ever need to get revenge on someone, go online and sign them up for a free moving quote.  I filled out what I thought was a form for ONE company -- Budget Van Lines.  Within the next hour or so, I got no fewer than 23 phone calls and about as many emails.  Each of them were more than willing to provide me with a free quote after having me on the phone for about an hour going through my house telling them all of the items that I want to have moved.  Then there are more and more options -- transport only, partial pack, full pack, supreme coverage, premium coverage, elite coverage, and standard coverage -- I had no idea that it was this complicated.  My head is swimming.  First, there is the prospect of tackling this daunting task in a little more than 3 weeks.  Now there are options that I haven't even considered.  And as I am looking around at all the crap that my kids have broken and destroyed that we've been "making do" with, I am thinking seriously of just lighting a match.

We have to find a house to rent.  Soon.  And we can't go to Alabama and look because the husband still has a job here, and the kids are still in school until the end of May.  I keep looking online, but having done this before, I know that houses online look amazing but that doesn't mean that they are.  I also know that houses that are listed online, with their well-written descriptions and their 23+ photos are most likely overpriced to cover all of that fancy marketing and management fees.  We need to be "boots on the ground" so to speak -- we could most likely find the house that we need in the area that we want for much less than those listed online by driving around, word of mouth, etc.  The other option is to find a place to store all of our stuff while we stay with family and look for a house.  Also a daunting task fraught with its own secret language of coverages, spacial measurements, and terms.

If there are any moving or storage companies that would like a review, please feel free to contact me -- I am serious.  This is a golden opportunity for you to get a real user review of the services that you offer and I could really use the discount.
I am getting overwhelmed.

I need to take a breath and calm down.

But we all know that isn't going to happen.  So now I have something new to obsess over, to be anxious about, to be excited about, and to keep me from my blog and my Facebook addiction.  I don't mind.  I've been wanting to move back to my hometown for more than the past decade -- this is a good obsession.  I am over the moon to be going home.  I am certain that I will be on here off and on over the next few weeks, but any long rants will have to wait until I have time to really work on them.  Any posts until after we get moved will most likely be short little stories about the perils and pitfalls of moving a family of 6 across country in a short period of time, and all of the wonderful (sarcasm) things that I will no doubt find lurking in the nooks and crannies of this house as I sort and pack.   But, I'll be back.  With a vengeance.

Y'all want to take bets on the oldest half-eaten Pop-Tart that I'll find hiding in my house?

Monday, May 7, 2012

Where Do I Begin?

I have received several emails from a few of you guys who have been concerned about my absence here, and since my Facebook page has limits to how much I can post, I figured I would give you all the reasons that I haven't been posting.  I have been more preoccupied than normal.  I have been busy with my normal anxieties -- we've already covered most of them in previous posts -- but I have been obsessed with quite a bit of family stuff as well. 

My husband's company (my feelings for them have also already been covered) has required all of the supervisors and managers to re-apply for their own jobs.  Yeah, you read that right.  They have to re-apply for the jobs that they have been doing for 5 or more years.  Not only that, but they have opened their positions up to other units within the plant that have already chosen their staff.  So, basically there are 20 people in the unit now, but they're going to trim it to 12, and not only are they competing with the 20 supervisors already IN their unit, but with any other supervisor in the plant that has already been informed that they are losing their current position.  Then the company will let them know if they still have a job sometime in June.  The whole thing is unprofessional and a good example of how to lose the best employees.  Since my husband and I really do not like Texas anyway, this latest turn of events has forced me to double my efforts of getting us back closer to "home" in North Alabama.  My hard work of trolling job boards and sending his resume off to various companies and recruiters has paid off and he has an interview in our hometown next week. 

I have also been preoccupied because my 5 year old is in the middle of her evaluation from the school system to determine whether or not she qualifies for "special needs."  I have said before that I suspected that she might be on the spectrum, but The Child Study Center (that is the Cook's Children's Medical Network facility that evaluates and makes diagnoses) keeps pushing us down the list to be evaluated because any problems that she may have are not disruptive or in any way debilitating.  Since she is starting Kindergarten next year, I am taking the free evaluation from the school system to at least give me a precursory heads up.  She is so very smart, but a good example of her different view of the world is her use of "the last day, this day, and the next day" instead of yesterday, today, and tomorrow.  During her first evaluation session, the psychologist was trying to get her to say the opposites by showing her pictures.  She would say "Look at this duck.  This duck is wet.  But this duck over here is..." and she would expect my daughter to say "Dry."  Of course, she didn't say that.  This part of her evaluation went like this:

"This duck is wet, but this other duck is..."

Not wet.

"This boy is sleeping, but this other boy is..."

Not sleeping.

"This dog is sitting, but this other dog is..."

Not sitting.  Or standing.  You could say standing, but I just say 'not sitting' because that's the truth.

The psychologist was impressed with her and although she kept telling me that she thought there was something there, she refused to give any clue as to what it might be until they had finished their full evaluation over the next few weeks.  So THAT has been weighing heavy on me.  I hope that there is nothing there, but if there is, I need to know what it is and how to deal with it -- especially before she starts school next year.

In addition to both of these issues, my body is mad at me. I have HAD been doing very well with my diet -- I am WAS down 26 pounds -- but pretty much since my birthday, I have been celebrating by pretending that I have the metabolism of a 16 year old athletic male.  (I don't by the way.)  And my workouts have consisted of carrying my ankle weights into the den with me in the morning on my way to the couch, the DVR, and the laptop and then laying them down next to the reclining handle before finally putting them on around noon.  Even then, I just walk around the house a little bit before I take them off for a nap around 3:30.  I suck at dieting.  I am still determined to lose the weight, but I am very good at convincing myself that I somehow deserve a break because of all the added stresses right now.

I need that 3:30 nap though, because at night when I should be sleeping, I cannot make my brain shut off.  I lay awake for hours thinking about my daughter, my husband's job, the possibility of finally getting what we want and moving "home", and the myriad of other things that I obsess about.  So I am tired.  All the time.  (Yawn)

And finally, I am preoccupied with the total chaos that my house had become.  A little while back, I went upstairs to the playroom and the 2 oldest kids bedroom. I spent nearly 4 hours, raking all of the crap out from behind their beds into a pile, sorting it, throwing away the broken toys, trash, and unidentifiable things, bagging and boxing up the stuff I knew they didn't play with, the stuff I was tired of tripping over, and the stuff from various kid meals that I could donate to Goodwill. I have done this at least twice a year for as long as I can remember, so you would think that the kids would catch on, or that they would be able to keep it from happening over and over again.  When I ran out of time (after more than 4 hours), there was still a huge pile in the middle of the bedroom floor. I had weeded out most of the partially eaten food (that isn't allowed upstairs, FYI), a lot of the trash, and pretty much everything that I was certain that I didn't want them to have.  I told the kids when they returned from school that they had until bedtime to finish what I had started or everything in the pile would go to the curb with the trash.  I also imposed restrictions on them as a result of this blatant disregard for the rules that their dad and I had imposed.  No Legos.  No art supplies.  No play dates.  No Nintendo DSi, Wii, or television.  They were allowed to play with their other toys and they were to read.  My mother told me that I should not use reading as a punishment, but seriously, my kids only read when I FORCE them.  It took my son (the 10 year old) 4 weeks to read a 250 page book because he had to stop and tell me how boring it was after every paragraph for the first five chapters or so until he got into the story.  Then he had to complain how this was a harsher punishment for him than it was for the older girl child because she actually LIKES to read sometimes.  And even after all of that, they still can't seem to keep their messes picked up.

So those are the main reasons that I have been so bad about getting on here.  There are other, less contributing reasons -- like my DVR has been recording shows of its own volition (whole other post there), and my attention span has been that of a squirrel on PCP, but all of the aforementioned concerns have me pretty stressed out.  The good news for you guys is that all of this stress will most likely result in me being completely pissed off by some random stranger and will result in me just snapping which will make for an excellent blog post.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Body By Vi Shake Review

There are several reasons that I do not do many reviews.  For one thing, that is not why most of you come to my blog.  I am a story teller, a humorist, a commentator, and a lot of other things, but I do not consider myself a product reviewer.  If and when I decide to review a product, you will know that it is either really, really good, or it is really, really bad. 

I receive dozens of product review requests every week.  99% of them, I reject outright.  These may be awesome products, but for me to even consider reviewing a product it must be something that I already use or have been wanting to try, and I usually get offers for products that I do not use or that I do not think that you guys would care anything about.

I also have trouble writing reviews unless I feel strongly about the product. It is generally pretty hard for me to get past “It works.”
A couple of months ago, I was on a Facebook page that had reviewed the Body by Vi 90 Day Challenge (which utilizes protein shakes made by the company Visalus) asking the admin there her opinion.  One of the distributors of the shakes, Courtney James, chimed in on our conversation and offered to send me some of the shake mix to review.  I agreed for  a couple of reasons -- the meal plan that I was following regularly utilizes protein shakes as both meal replacement and as supplement, (see the plan that I have been following in this post:  "Crap. It Works.") and I had heard really great things about the shakes -- how well they work, how great they taste, how easy it was to order, etc. 

About a month ago, I received my bag of shake mix.  As eager as I was to try them, what I was doing was still working well.  I wanted my review of them to be based purely upon their merit, and not how well they worked with what I was already doing.  So I waited until my weight loss had sort of stalled to even open the mailer that the shake had come in.  When I opened the packet a couple of weeks ago, I was disappointed almost immediately.  They are made from Soy based protein.  Now, for the general population, Soy is an awesome and healthy source of protein.  However, I cannot eat Soy.  In case you didn't know, I have a thyroid problem.  Soy is not a good idea for people with thyroid issues because it is a goiteragenic -- it can cause a goiter if you have thyroid problems, and if your thyroid problem IS a goiter, it can cause it to grow.  Rapidly.  I quickly sent an email to Courtney who had sent me the shakes asking for her to let me know if she had any problem with my husband being the one to actually use them and I would still write the review.  When I didn't get any objections, (and after I had convinced my husband to be my guinea pig), we proceeded. 

My husband had actually been off of our plan for a few days as he was out of town, and not home where he could easily follow our plan.  He had gained a little weight back by travelling and eating WAY off plan.  It was the perfect time to try the shakes.  Although I could not consume the Soy based shakes, I did taste each of the ones that we made so that I could honestly tell you that THEY ARE AWESOME.  They taste amazing -- you will think that you are cheating on your diet because they are THAT good.  The letter that the Courtney sent in the mailer, called this sweet cream flavored mix "The shake mix that tastes like a cake mix" and it definitely lives up to that name.  She also sent me a few flavor packs with added nutrients and benefits (things like energy boosters, cardio care, etc.) that you can add to change up the flavor.  Courtney had also sent me an email with several great recipes for ways to change up the shakes by adding things like fresh fruits and juices.  My favorite recipe (big shock) was the Cafe Latte that used cold coffee.  I REALLY wanted to drink the whole thing, but my reaction to Soy kept me from indulging in more than a couple of sips.

The shakes are 90 calories each, 12 grams of protein, 7 grams of fiber, one gram of fat, and full of vitamins and minerals (just in the mix, before adding the liquid of your choice). You can make them with water or with skim milk, (water for a snack, milk as a meal).  One thing that really impressed me about the shakes was that they are safe to give to kids over 4 years old -- I would not feel comfortable giving my kids a lot of the popular grocery store brand "diet" shakes, I would definitely let my kids have these.  Once you add 8-12 ounces of skim milk, the calorie count goes up to 170 (still very low) and the protein shoots up to 20 grams (very high).

shake's price, I also found that the flavor packets that add the additional benefits, and "Hunger Blockers" that you can add into your shake cost quite a bit extra.  However, I will say that my husband felt that any Hunger Blockers were unnecessary as he didn't feel hungry.

Overall, I would definitely recommend this product, (providing of course that you don't have a Soy allergy or thyroid issues).  The price is very reasonable (especially on auto-ship), and if Courtney James is any indication, your rep will be extremely supportive and helpful.  If you have any questions for her, or if you want to place your own order, you can contact her directly at 604-628-7804, email at, or just go directly to the website  She also has her own Facebook page as well where she is documenting her own 90-Day Challenge Journey --

Courtney also sent me the following info from Visalus about the Soy that they use in their shakes.  My endocrinologist has told me that his advice is to avoid ALL Soy, but I wanted to include it for you guys because you should talk to your own doctor and follow his or her advice specific for your circumstances.
There is a lot of misinformation and confusion about soy in the marketplace today. In countries where consumption of soy is high (like Japan) the populations are healthier and have fewer health issues than in America today. So we know that there is misinformation, and facts being taken out of context.
Of the concerns over soy, there are a few common ones. First, is referring to raw soybeans, that can contain a form of phytic acid that can block certain minerals absorption. However, that is based on massive consumption quantities, and of the raw soybean and only occurs in those animals that lack the digestive enzyme phytase. It is only an issue for people who consume those foods to get minerals in their diet, and in massive quantities. The issue is in developing countries, and may have a genetic basis as well because they are lacking the digestive enzyme (which can be supplemented and therefore alleviate the concern). It is not an issue for our products because of how we process the ingredients.
The second common concern with soy are due to some of the components of soy, particularly the isoflavones genistein and dadzein which can affect and inhibit thyroid peroxidase which is necessary for the production of T3 and T4. Thus there is some evidence that it could lead to thyroid enlargement (Goiter) . Our soy has been processed to remove the isoflavones, so this is not an issue.
A third common concern about soy is the effect it may have on estrogen levels in the body. This is again due to the isoflavones, which we have had removed. So this is a non-worry. We should note that many menopausal women do supplement with isoflavones, as it has been shown to help them experience fewer side effects of menopause.
Lastly, our Soy is not genetically modified (it is non-GMO). Many people worry about genetically modified soy, and if any of the ingredients got altered in the breeding process. We use the most natural form we can get, that has not been genetically modified.
Why use soy? It is a complete protein, it is easily digested, and with adequate soy in the diet it can help reduce c-reactive protein (an signal of inflammation and heart disease) in the body, along with cholesterol.