Direct Sales-Ever wondered?
We’ve all seen the adverts on the job sites… Earn £50,000/$75,000 OTE. uncapped in your first year.
We are looking for people who want to make it in Direct Sales…We are the market leading…
Opportunities are endless etc etc blah blah blah.
Ever wanted to know what this was all about but were ‘bright’ enough not to ever apply?
Early last year, I wanted to research a character for one of my novels which required the ‘hero’ to be a direct salesman and frankly, it was a world I knew little about.
It said, ‘no experience necessary as full training would be given’ so I applied and was invited to meet with a gentleman at an expensive hotel for an informal chat.
My immediate thoughts were that if they can afford that hotel, then maybe this was an A1 organisation. The gentleman was very pleasant and we had a nice cosy chat about everything and nothing and he asked if I would be able to attend a residential training course starting Monday about a four hour drive away. (It was Thursday night now) I said, yes and it was a done deal.
‘Are you staying here?’ I asked as I was leaving.
‘Nope, we always use expensive hotel lobbies as our meeting place. Gives a good impression, but the coffee is damn expensive.’
Email confirmations ensued and off I set, at dawn, one bright Monday on a four hour trek.
The hotel was very good and gave me a good feeling. The other eleven trainees were assembled in reception and I have to confess, a greater cross section of people who you would never wish to meet, were in various states of nervousness and anticipation.
The course leader arrived late and was more reminiscent of a Holiday Camp host,
an unfunny joke a minute ‘Jack the Lad,’ who had been everywhere and done ‘everyfink.’
A whole weeks worth of brain washing ensued unabated with homework for each evening, group sessions and much anecdotal evidence from the course leader of how successful we would all be. Any negative thoughts or even worse, sensible but negative observations were crushed mercilessly. Threats of course expulsion were frequent for those who over imbibed the previous evening (most of the course attendees had never stayed in an hotel before) and consistent negativity resulted in class bullying led by the course leader who ridiculed the offender.
At the end of the week a passing out ceremony was conducted after a swift presentation of one of the Company’s slightly over engineered products, of which there were hundreds. You had to sell something in a role play to the course leader. Needless to say, everyone passed.
Further investigations from me, resulted in the mind numbing information that this course ran 51 weeks of the year at this venue alone. There were, apparently, other venues.
Slow reflection upon the weeks training left me unimpressed. There was no way on the planet that you could even begin to comprehend the massive product line, but that was not important.
The overall message was simple. Sell on fear. If you don’t buy our products then your house will fall down. Old people are stupid and will always buy the most expensive products because they are the most expensive (in this case up to 3 times more expensive than your competitors) and most important of all, sell finance because that’s how the pyramid of commissions to your manager happens. (although, they don’t tell you this.)
‘What if the customer wants to pay cash?’ I asked stupidly.
‘Convince the customer that it is really cheaper to have our finance package.’
‘That’s nuts.’ said I. ‘Aren’t there regulations to stop you doing this?’
‘We opted out of that legislation.’ was the reply.
‘So you are telling me that that you are really just an unofficial seller of Bank finance, selling financial packages to old people who neither want or need it?’
‘What’s wrong with you Mr Negataurus. You’ll never sell anything with an attitude like that.’
I was told sternly.
On the long drive home I was contemplating dumping the hundredweight of course material in the nearest skip, but for some reason that I will never fathom, I did not.
My ‘manager’ contacted me the following day to enquire as to how the course went and finished with a question which had to have a positive response, ie. ‘Wasn’t the hotel nice?’ You simply had to say, ‘yes.’
Now I use the term manger loosely in all this. There were many things that this person was, but the last thing that sprung to mind was Manager. More likely he was let off school early to knock on unsuspecting pensioners doors each Friday afternoon.
The following days were a mixture of mind numbing horror as you were ordered about everywhere at your own expense to do the company’s bidding. Self employed, but ordered about like toy soldiers as they met here and there and attacked unsuspecting householders with relish and aplomb using the well rehearsed Company mantra that has worked so well for X number of years. ‘Do not alter a word.’ You are warned, ‘it works every time.’
Steeling my courage I knocked on door one.
‘#### off mate.’ came the dour response.
When I complained to my manager he said ‘You missed an opportunity there. If you get a response, that means they want to talk and then you can get your foot in the door.’
He proceeded to show me and we were literally chased from the next driveway and off the property.
‘I’ll put that down as a positive response then.’ he stated blandly filling in his call sheet.
Having completed a few weeks of this torture and attended many, many more training sessions I took stock. Sales…Zero. Income…Zero. Expenditure on petrol etc £395.00.
Confidence level…Zero. The whole idea as a career for me, Zero, so I did what I should have done at the end of the course… I quit.
To be honest, I was so brain washed I had forgotten that this was only a research project and kinda got caught up in it all.
Now don’t get me wrong, some (not many thank heavens) have made a success of this ‘career,’ but I would venture that these are very special creatures indeed. It is after all just a numbers game.
As a matter of fact it is hard in this day and age of a caring society to even contemplate such moral turpitude.
It’s definitely NOT a career for most.
The one thing that did work was the brain washing. I found I could not write a single intelligent sentence for weeks without some ‘mantra’ imposing itself on my thoughts.
I abandoned the original novel concept, as in my humble opinion, you could not make up a believable character of the sort I had met and instead wrote a satirical comedy to cheer myself up.
About the author:
RD is a successful author of speculative fiction.
His latest title is : New Shoes-Adult Humour-paperback- Amazon worldwide.
RDLC has also run 3 successful businesses and worked as a management consultant.
Copyright © Text 2009. R.D. Le Coeur
please note source if reprinting this article