Tuesday, July 1

Another Job I Can't Do

Readers recently discovered that I am NOT good at everything. You are all mighty shocked, I am sure. Brace yourselves - in addition to discovering that I would NOT be a good server, I have to tell you something else. I would also not be good at commission sales.

Sure, I can sell members of my church a lot of frozen casseroles. And I have sold lots and lots of Girl Scout cookies. Wait...that's not right...I have bought lots and lots of Girl Scout cookies.

Straight commission sales...add in a snake and a small child and you've got my personal definition of hell.

I did try it - once. I was in my early twenties and disenchanted with my job stuffing inserts into the newspaper. I answered one of those ads in the classifieds that looks really cool: Be your own boss! Unlimited earning potential! Set your own hours!

My antennae should have been alerted when the "interview" was scheduled for a Sunday evening at the offices of Thousand Trails in Rustburg. And when I arrived and found myself part of a "group interview" - the alarm bells should have been ringing. But they weren't - because I was young and trusted the advertiser. NEVER trust advertisers. From politics to products, advertisers have one goal: make you want what they are offering.

But I digress...a pair of energetic young college students (one male, one female - both very attractive) spent half an hour telling us about the untapped sales universe opening up before us. We all had the opportunity to make unlimited money selling time-share campground spaces. Time-share camping. Yup. And while the good looking young hunk was telling me how intelligent and go-getting I appeared to be (during our private interview...10 minutes long....) - well, I sure was passionate about getting out there and selling a whole bunch of seniors with RVs on the joys of camping in the great city of Rustburg, Virginia.

On the drive home, I started to come to my senses. And then I tried my pitch on my parents - who kindly informed me that it wasn't something that they were prepared to invest in. I tried my pitch on about three more couples in my circle of friends...then I gave up. I am sure that there are people out there who could have made that job work.

No...you know, I'm NOT sure that there are people out there who could have made a good living at selling time-share camping in Rustburg. It really was a dreadful "product" to sell.

This all came to mind when I young man that I know and love was enticed to go into commission sales. Same energetic pitch...same delirium caused by smiling people saying "this stuff practically sells itself! You make $15 for every meeting you set up. You'll be rich in no time..."

Actually - this young man came to his senses much quicker than me.

But it still angers me that companies feel it is okay to take advantage of young people in this way. Dangle some fat cash promises and the "joy" of being your own boss (generally, people suck at being their own boss. Especially college-age people who haven't had a lot of bosses to model after). It's a crappy and unethical way to make a buck. Usually what happens is the family of the young person buys stuff "just to get them started." And then they might be generous enough to refer a few friends and colleagues (great way to lose both!) before the young person realizes they could make more money selling their plasma.

Ethical companies provide sales training AND support. Good sales jobs usually start with a "draw" (a base salary while you're learning the ropes) that declines over time (after all, there has to be an incentive to start making sales!). But it has become an acceptable practice to have young people bust their humps, selling stuff to their unsuspecting family and soon-to-be-former friends...then when the young people run out of leads - you just cut them loose and suck in some more.

I'm not going to buy stuff from companies like that any more. That includes a lot of our local car dealerships.

And I'm not going to try to sell any more time-shares for Thousand Trails.

As I told a telemarketer one day when they were trying to sell me an internet listing service, "perhaps you should go into a more ethical line of work...like drowning kittens or prostitution."

Hamster beaten.

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