What does a salesman think as he approaches your door? What tips, tricks and conversational tactics have they been taught? My second round of pyramid scheme fueled training has given me a reinforced insight into the incentives that drive a normal person to become “hungry”; a term used within residential and events marketing to refer to an individual driven by the sale. On the surface having a committed salesman, or brand ambassador seems fine. Commitment to your role reflects the ideal work ethic of any employee across the vast spectrum of occupations; the problem here lies in the training and delivery of this enthusiasm. My first day of training saw me in a room with a large table surrounded by the confused applicants I had met prior to my interview.

Our name cards were laid out, a leaflet full of do’s and don’ts, incentives, an actual pyramid representing our role and the progression available to us through daily sale averages and finally a Script explaining the five steps…

The Five Steps Script

When a salesman approaches you at the door he thinks of the five steps. It breaks down into:

Introduction: Usually this starts with “hello” from arms reach distance followed by a casual icebreaker. The latter would be something along the lines of “don’t worry, I can see you have windows” or “we’re not as scary as we look”. It will always be lighthearted, they will always smile as trained despite having said the same line all day, five days a week and it, along with everything else they will say, will always be said with the intention on building trust to progress to the next step.

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Pitch: This breaks down into “reason” followed by another icebreaker. The reason will be a concise explanation of why they are visiting often entwined with a lie about the rest of your neighbourhoods involvement in what they are selling; they will describe a nearby installation that will rarely ever exist. Whether this is indeed the case for their hundredth residential visit of the day or their first; this will always be said. It is to build trust through numbers, playing on your sense of community and to keep you engaged.

Short Story: At this company, this step was more of a conversation than a one-sided lecture as per previous tactics I had been taught at another company. I was trained to inquire the age of the windows on the property, ask if they were still under guarantee and if they had been inherited or if they had purchased them themselves. Often the conversation would be rounded off with a hypothetical scenario where you would ask the homeowner what they would like to get done in the future.

Close: “If I could offer you a zero obligation, free quotation, would you bear us in mind for the future?” Always coupled with a traditional, amateur psychology nod, handshake and a forced smile. Congratulations, upon hearing these words you have now been tied into a sales pitch by someone with no knowledge of windows, installation techniques or single care about you as a person.

Details: The final step. This is where they simply record your address for the “designer” to visit, a time you choose and your name. My previous role saw me collecting direct debits at the door, perhaps the reason I stuck through the training and made it through to my first day was the thought that I was not directly selling; a notion that the veteran salesman who would field train me played upon to get around “no cold calling” stickers.

Pyramid Progression

You know you are in deep water when you are reading through a black and white printed employee manual and you turn the page to find an actual pyramid of progression. The youth of the room were enthralled by every word we were lectured; I could see the “hunger” building as they calculated earning potentials based on hypothetical, unobtainable sales averages. The idea is simple; meet increasingly difficult sales targets to progress upward towards the top of the pyramid. The middle-aged man I had chatted with before my interview simply leaned back. I could see he was unimpressed, obviously, he saw through the clear and desperate pitch. The others seemed to have forgotten about being lied to through falsely advertised roles on employment websites, much like how I originally applied for a digital marketing position. They were here to earn, the hunger had already consumed them as it did myself on my first Brand Ambassador rodeo.

Homework

We were told to read the script as essential homework, memorize it and return the next day for our first taste of residential window sales. Foolishly I followed the instruction to the letter, once again plunging myself into sales. This time, however, was to be into the much deeper, darker end. Seeing the lives of my colleagues has changed my perception of anyone dressed in a suit that knocks on my door forever. What struck me was the paucity of training when dealing with mentally unfit potential clients, there seemed to be no rules regarding age, disability or circumstance other than being instructed to target "the richer demographics" which contradicted the teachings in my previous line of sales.