Buy My Ninja Wares
i’m a grown man, married and live in los angeles. i have bills, the economy sucks and i’m too old to ask (or receive) help from parents anymore. besides, one of them’s dead. my father passed away earlier this year and left whatever assets he hadn’t drank or pissed away to two different ex-wives — a meth addict with fake tits and chinese internet mail order bride he stole from a man in another state. but that’s a whole different story/blog.
i do not have enough money to make rent this month. my wife has a pretty good job but i can’t sleep at night knowing that i am not equally contributing to our household income. she’s probably be cool with it for at least six months, maybe even a year or two. but i don’t want to live my life like that. i may be a total douchebag but i’m not a deadbeat. not yet anyway.
last week i answered an ad on craigslist.com advertising a job where you could make up to $1,500 a week talking on the phone. i called the number provided. it was a voice recording explaining how the job was telemarketing and that we would be calling on hot leads, “no cold calling.”
it sounded legit enough so i left my name and phone number after the beep. i didn’t hear back that day so i called the following day and left my info again. the following day i got a call from a guy who called himself aaron.
i thanked aaron for calling me back so soon because i figured that he probably got calls from the craziest people on earth considering the wording of their craigslist ad. he said that this was true.
aaron scheduled me to come in for an interview the following friday. on friday that got postponed until monday. no sweat. i wasn’t in that huge of a hurry to begin my telemarketing career. no matter how “hot” these leads were supposed to be.
the following monday i drove to a nondescript, windowless, one-story building 30 minutes from my home. the interview consisted of me and several other people sitting in a conference room with a whiteboard for thirty minutes listening somewhat listlessly as aaron explained the requirements for the job and the company’s intricate (and confusing payroll structure).
the first ten minutes of the orientation were rough. i was sitting their thinking about what a loser and failure i was and how let down my parents and loved ones would be if they could see me at that moment.
this feeling quickly went away as the conference room door opened and in walked a young woman with a familiar face.
turns out she was a very famous director’s former assistant that i had answered phones for several years ago. as soon as she saw me her face turned grey and she put her head down on the table in front of her. i’m pretty sure she wept silently or was at least on the verge of doing so.
after the orientation concluded we were excused and told to report the following wednesday at 9 a.m. to begin our training. i highly doubted that i’d be seeing the director’s former assistant at this. and it turned out i was right.
it’s 9 a.m. and i’m sitting in a windowless classroom filled with former and present alcoholics/drugs addicts, struggling musicians/actors/writers and a few black guys. aaron begins our training by having us fill out and sign the company’s employee paperwork. one of the documents that we must sign and initial states we forfeit all salary bonuses that we have accrued if we miss more than 4 days of work per six-month period.
looks like i’ll never be seeing my bonuses. damn it.
we are given white 3-ringed notebooks with sample telephone scripts and copies of the five basic products that we will be selling. we are told that the scripts are more important than the contacts. we are selling the scripts and ourselves. the actual products and price don’t make.
this strikes me as odd/wrong and completely counter-intuitive to how a good and reputable product would be distributed and sold to the general population. but i’m broke and need to make rent. i keep my mouth shut and take notes as aaron walks us through the scripts.
aaron introduces us to basic sales tools that we are to use to make sales. these include:
- using command language to ensure that we maintain a high social value, do not use weak language or ask weak questions, or give the customer any respect whatsoever (they must earn it). we are told several times that the customers we are calling are “morons,” “stupid” and “complete piles of garbage.”
- mirroring the customer, as in their tone, pace, vocabulary intelligence level. if we can we are encouraged to take on their regional accent, marital status and have or not have children to mimic their parental situation. we are told that it’s okay to play characters, change our sex and/or race on the phone if necessary. we are also encourage to use phone names and not to use our actual names under any circumstances. aaron favors using the names of obscure collegiate and professional athletes.
- creating common ground by spending the first 1 to 2 minutes on the line with customer making them like and trust us. we are told to use any and all info we have to manipulate the conversation into an immediate friendship. stereotyping is mentioned and encouraged. we are told to pretend were are detectives and to use any background noise to give us clues about the person’s living situation, possible relationships and children or pets.
- creating urgency is the most important thing during a call. we need to make the customer think that whatever product is they have that they are just outside of the timeline where we can help them out. then we are told to use the common ground we created to convince them that we are going to cut them a one-time deal that is exclusively just for them. this is where we manipulate the product price to reflect to what we think is the maximum price we think they will pay based on our observations regarding ages, sex, location, probable income and intelligence level.
we spend the rest of the morning and early afternoon discussing and repeatedly going over these tactics and strategies.
then we are excused and everyone goes home.
we spend the morning going over the products we are selling, the sales scripts and the sales tactics explained to us on the previous day.
i’ve come to the realization that what we are being trained and prepared to do is wrong and against pretty much everything that i and even most world religions (that i don’t even subscribe to) consider wrong. this is the first time in my life that i’ve had a job that i believed actually hurts people and serves no purpose to better or at least not harm humanity as a whole. it depresses me. i start making doodles on my legal pad that reflect the situation.
the guy sitting next to me thinks this is hilarious. i see it as an actual representation of where i’ll probably end up spending eternity.
today we spend most of the class reading our scripts to aaron as he sits in front of the class and picks our sales pitches apart. some people are really good at this (so good it’s kind of creepy). some people are horrible and appear to barely be able to read.
when i am called on i am asked to read/perform the one script that i had not gone over the night before, which also happens to be the most complicated one as far as i am concerned. i get mixed up, read the wrong pages in the wrong order, and end up doing worse than the two worst guys in the class who can barely read. aaron is visibly (and audibly) disgusted with me for wasting his time.
the guy next to me tells me that it’s okay. he likes my funny drawings and asks me to do more.
i have since moved onto making videos.
there’s nothing worse than being forced by your financial situation to do something you know is pure evil only to discover that you’re terrible at that thing and getting chastised for it in front of a room full of people you wouldn’t want making your sandwich at a subway sandwiches store.
several of the guys in the room have tattoos that you would only see on a gay pirate or failed white rapper. also, several of the guys in the room may or may not be gay pirates or failed white rappers.
there’s a guy in his mid-forties sitting a row behind me in a mostly unbuttoned denim shirt who’s wearing a leather necklace, turquoise jewelry and his high school class ring. he’s clearly coming down off of cocaine. err, um, make that meth. cocaine looks like it’d be a little fancy for him and out of his price range.
this is the final day of our telemarketing sales training. we spent the morning running practice sales leads into the computers and listening in on calls as they take place on the sales floor.
this is the desktop wallpaper of the computer that i was assigned to practice at. it’s a screen grab of alec baldwin from the film glengary, glengross. i’m pretty sure it was placed there unironically.
after we finished today’s lesson we were told to go home and practice for tomorrow’s “audition.”
tomorrow morning we have to come in and each, one at a time, make a sales call to our boss on the other line and sell him a product per our sales scripts and the lead info were are to receive. if we don’t pass the test we don’t get the job.
here are some more videos i made today to pass the time while listening in on calls that made my stomach hurt for both people on either end of the conversation.
here’s to hoping that i either do or don’t completely fuck up tomorrow’s test. either way my life is going to totally suck for the next month or more.
today was my telemarketing training final exam. i had to make as simulated sales call while my boss and co-workers listened in on speakphone. i passed the test. tomorrow i begin my first day as an actual telemarketer.
this afternoon when i came i had a 102 degree fever. i think that my body is trying to kill me so i won’t have to actually go in to work tomorrow.
with any luck i should be dead by Friday.
so now it’s real. today i worked my first six-hour shift as a one call close sales telemarketer.
after a brief orientation in a conference room where we received instructions about the company’s newly enforced anti-profanity and sexual harassment policy (by two company reps who swore throughout their presentations) we were turned lose at our own work stations on the calling floor.
i had no sooner sat down and logged into my autodialer when the guy in the cubicle across from me launched into a 10-minute anecdote/story/tirade(?) about how southern girls were way better than los angeles girls and how he had just returned from is vacation in georgia/florida and “hooked up with tons of hot bitches” and “fucked two of them.” the story was a charmless as it was profanity-laced as well as likely to have never happened. however, i let it run its course because he was a senior salesman and i figured that i would need his help later during a call or while trying to work the company’s arcane customer data software. which i did.
even though i had bombed during my initial practice call in training, i ended being the first person out of the new sales group to make a sale. it was a $4,500 product to a man in florida who said that he was on vacation in california at the time. we were instructed to rebut one customer objection but then on the second hand it over to a senior person by yelling “t.o.” and putting the person on hold. so i did. the salesman who had told the probably not true southern vacation sex story earlier in the day closed the sale for me.
after the customer was verified and the deal was done the sex story sales guy told me that guys on the floor usually pay out $5 to $10 cash to people who close out their calls for them. i used what is called a “power pause” in the business. i remained silent until he spoke again. it worked. he soon became infatuated with the song “white lines” when it came on the ubiquitous, blaring, satellite radio station music blaring from the speakers overhead.
later in the day the sex story guy and i bonded over the reasons why spider man 1 & 2 were far superior movies to the third installment. then he went on a 15-minute jab about how much he used to like to freebase pure cocaine and huff ether. he said that if he had unlimited money and didn’t have to work that he would pretty much huff ether all day because it made your ears ring. here’s to praying that he never makes unlimited money. i mean, who would close my sales calls to floridan septuagenarians for me.
on my break i went to the cafeteria and wolfed down a soggy pb&j that i made this morning before leaving for work. two of the guys in my training class came in and sat down. one hadn’t made a sale yet. the other had made two already. we commiserated about sales that we nearly had but lost due to our inexperience and also about different types of callers we had experienced to whom it seemed just impossible to attempt to sell.
before we went back to work the guy who had made two sales said that he felt kind of guilty that we were jacking up the prices on people and basically charging them as much money as we thought we could get out of them in order to earn a commission from the sale. earlier in the day at the orientation meeting when this guy was put on the spot he said that his favorite book was the bible, and i believe him because he seems like a genuinely nice person.
i told him that of course he should feel guilty. we were lying to people, manipulating them and screwing them over for profit. i told him that he should go home and pray to jesus and ask him for forgiveness. i told him at least he was a christian and had that option and that i was an atheist who didn’t believe in anything so i was going to burn hell no matter what. i was kidding but this seemed to cheer him up and make him laugh.
before i clocked out for the night one of the company’s veteran salesmen who’s now a floor manager came up and told me that he was the best salesman the company had ever met and that nothing mattered to him or should matter to me except making the most money possible no matter what i had to do.
that’s when i realized that money is something that people without compassion, creativity or intellect amass in order to help themselves feel better about lacking these things. not like i’m some loving, creative genius being, but at least i still know and admit how fucked up and wrong everything having to do with job is and i can’t wait to be able to quit it.
everyone has cancer.
today on my second full day on the sales calling floor i spent the better part of my six-hour shift talking to no less than half a dozen people (mostly in florida and new york) who claimed to have and/or be in the hospital with cancer. i convinced none of them to purchase any of the products that i was selling, even though i spent a good 15 to 25 minutes pitching each of them.
it was pretty much the most depressing thing i’ve ever forced myself to do.
came back from my sales training meeting to discover that naveed had stolen my cubicle, work station and headset. naveed is a fucking dong.
my first call of the day i had an old man from battle creek, michigan on the hook for a pretty expensive product that he seem interested in but i failed to build enough urgency (i.e. make him feel that this was a limited time offer – even though it wasn’t) and he got away.
who are these people who still have mechanical fucking answering machines? answer: old people who don’t want to buy things from me.
i’ve been telling the old people that our products are like the bible, nobody thinks about them untel they get in trouble and truly need them. i will surely burn in hell for this. among other things i have done and said today.
the human resources specialist lasted all of four days in the office. now that she is gone everyone is talking shit about her (apparently she was crazy) and have also gone back to swearing at each other and clients on the phone at the top of their lungs across the office.
i’m in the cube right next to the sale leaderboard/whiteboard. everyone keeps getting sales written up next to their names. i’m sitting here getting shot down by geriatrics from albuquerque and not selling shit. it’s hard to be cocky about a job when you suck at it as hard as i do.
i’ve been hearing a ton of movie pitches from my co-workers in the office today. most go like, “dude, i want to make a movie that’s just like the hangover but instead of those guys in it, it would be about my uncle who’s 45 who do coke with on the weekends sometimes. he’s crazy.”
made my first real sale (by myself) yesterday right at the end of my shift. a $4,650 product to a retired house builder in colorado springs. at the end of the call he kept telling me, “dave, you’re a great guy, thank you so much.”
dave is my fake phone name. i hated hearing him say it so much i thought i was going to puke.
was instructed to hang up on a handicapped man in virginia beach mid-sentence because a manager said we couldn’t sell him any sort of product because the state of the current one he was upgrading. so i did. wow, i’m a piece of shit.
spent an hour and ten minutes (with a take-over from a manager) on a call to sell a product using a woman’s postdated check over phone for her down payment that doesn’t go through until august 1st. i doubt the deal will go through.
today they instituted a wheel of fortune game for the sales people with two or more sales a day. i wish they’d just hit me across the face with a barbed canoe paddle dipped in rhino shit. it’d be less demeaning and/or painful.