We were down south in England. No one had been paid for about three weeks. There was rumours of bankruptcy, shop closures, investigations by the fraud squad and a telly program called WatchDog. The blinds on the windows were down so nobody could see in. The door was locked to keep out unexpected visitors.
The management said not to worry, it was all caused by a few disgruntled customers that over reacted and went to the media. Some of the top executives were on the way down to settle things. In the meantime. “Do your job.”
Tonight we’d be focusing on leads in places far away, towns that never heard of us, or knew about the bad publicity.
There was a teenage couple at the back expecting a baby but they weren’t that good at selling property or making appointment. Some evenings on the phone they’d only make three sales between them. The target was ten a night so everyone knew they were in for a cull.
After work finished, Sandra, the power suited supervisor asked them to stand up. They did, nervously. They were both gorky and overweight but they had good hearts and didn’t like too much attention. Sandra loved this, though.
Survival of the fittest.
Capitalism at it’s best.
There was twenty of us in the room.
Eighteen now looking at the couple that were about to get fired. Sandra said: ‘I’m sorry to say, but you have to go.’
They accepted it ok. She cried a bit. He looked at the table, then tried to rub her hand in a way he’d seen people on telly do it when things didn’t go well in court.
After they left, the rest of us were told to hang back.
Frank was here.
Frank was the big boss.
Sandra did her make up. Acted nervous.
Jerome was above Sandra in rank and you could tell he was good friends with Frank so didn’t care that he was coming. He sat on the edge of the tables chatting to us and asking where we were from etc.
Then Frank came and we all got a lecture.
Why aren’t we selling more?
What tactics are we using?
Who trained us?
Did we know how to ask open questions?
If it’s a woman, you tell her the husband asked us to call.
If it’s a man, then the wife filled out a from at the supermarket yesterday, maybe she doesn’t remember.
What if they’re not married? Then it’s hey, must be fate, or maybe you won a prize, enter any competitions lately? Where you from? Watford? Oh, Watford, isn’t there a hotel at the end of the street called…and then he’ll say “The Bellingham Arms?” And you say, yeah, that’s it, does John still work there?
And he’ll go: ‘You mean Dave?’
Oh yeah, Dave, you say.
Cos the thing is: Every town’s got a hotel called something with someone called John or Dave but the crucial thing is now that you’ve had him on the phone for over two minutes…
And: “What happens after two minutes?” he asks rhetorically….then answers with: ‘The likelihood of you client saying NO decreases by up to 80%…. so then you make your CLOSE, with something like ….”you need to start to thinking about a pension, where better than the Spanish sun? This must be fate. These new apartments, everyone wants them, for the price of a small car in England, how could you go wrong? Let’s make an appointment, it’s only a small deposit now, but then your investment quadruples in value….’
When he was finished. Jerome took over. Talked to us about how he used to sell cars in Israel.
Frank brought Sandra out the back and fired her. She came back crying and started packing up her up stuff slowly.
Frank didn’t seem to upset at all. He studied the whiteboard with all our names and sales while Jerome kept casually talking. Then he interrupted with: ‘Who’s Mark?’
Mark put up his hand.
‘Ok, you stay there.’ He said and looked back at the board, then went: ‘Yvonne, Jane and Mick?’
We all put up our hands.
‘Ok…’ He said: ‘You four stay. Everyone else can go home.’
The rest of them left.
Frank pulled our four tables together and went: ‘Ok, you’re the only ones capable of selling anything in this room…the rest of them are all fired as off tomorrow….don’t worry, you’ll make a lot of money. Trust me.’
That evening, walking home, I went for a bottle of water in a local shop.
There was newspapers on the ground with a picture of two pensioners on the front.
They were holding something I recognised.
A closer look revealed a letter from our company. The old woman was holding it. The logo was a bright yellow sun and the company name was called “Serendipity.”
The headline on the paper was: “Time-Share Scam”
And it was all about how this geriatric couple had been conned out of thousands of pounds and now they were worried about being broke or homeless or hungry. Think your man was sick too.
At the bottom it said the management of the company were unavailable for comment.