We’re happy to present a guest post today from frequent commenter and longtime DDDT friend Troy.
Hi, my name is Troy and I’m a Professional Salesman. I love what I do, and I think I’m pretty good at it, but I stop short at saying I’m really proud to be a salesman. I think my reluctance is grounded in the fact that I suffer from an identity crisis. You see, the fact is, I hate most salespeople. They totally ruin it for the rest of us who take it seriously, do it right, and improve people’s lives. I just wish some categories existed that could separate me and what I do from what you think of when I say “salesman.” In reality, these categorical differences do exist, it’s just that most people aren’t aware of them. The sales spectrum really is the broadest and deepest of all the professions if you think about it. Unfortunately for me, I share that spectrum with some of the most annoying and detestable people on earth.
The lowest form of life in sales is the Timeshare Salesperson. Making a commission is an honest living, but I think Timeshare Salespeople are compensated on a sliding scale of how much life force they are able to suck out of you in 90 minutes.
Timeshare Boss: “Jenkins! Great work, that last couple just went out to their car, stuck a rag in their exhaust pipe, and asphyxiated themselves…here’s $500.”
Jenkins: (Sneer, slither, snort) “Boss, asphyxiation is worth $750 and you know it!” (Point and wink.)
Boss: “You’re an animal! Can’t sneak anything past you, Jenkins!”
You know what I really enjoy? Telling people I’m in sales and having their mental image of me morph into this guy.
It all starts when you’re on vacation and a bubbly teenage recruiter in a street kiosk convinces you that a “simple presentation” is worth 2 free tickets to the Sea Aquarium. Before you realize it, you’re sitting in an air conditioned room with several other co-victims. You are offered a bottled water, the lights are lowered, and a video begins. The video shows lavish vacation destinations and tons of relaxed couples. Smiles, laughter, beaches, romance. The irony sinks in that you are actually on vacation right now, and should be outside doing what the people in the video are doing.
Instead, you are sitting in a dark room with strangers watching a really long commercial. “Just here for that voucher,” you remind your spouse – and yourself – in a whisper. Your spouse already has that weary-yet-determined “We can get through this,” face. The lights come up and you are led into Room #2. Hmm, this room has a different feel. The soft steel drum music and the scattered tables with eager salespeople manning each post give it a “We’re gonna get down to business—a business PARTY!” vibe. Your escort leads you to a table. The machine is now fully in motion, and you’re nothing but a helpless cog.
Ever present are the vivid photos of every vacation you could imagine. Gotta have the photos. They ensure that the decision-making process remains an emotional one. Posters on the wall, framed pictures on desks, huge three-ring binders at each battle station. The salesperson talks to you, maintaining that all-important yet increasingly creepy eye contact, while periodically refreshing the photo binder on the table by flipping through with their peripheral vision. They ask some simple questions. They take some notes. Did he just write down the ages of our children? The paper comes out, the calculator, too. Diagrams are drawn, with lots of dramatic underlining for emphasis. Back to the pictures for a moment. OK, then some calculations are made, plans are drawn up, and words like “equity” and “investment” are thrown around carelessly. Everything starts to sound the same and just when you’re about to tune out completely, you hear something like “…and for the neglible sum of $8,000, payable in check right now, you can go on vacation for the rest of your life!”
Don’t even bother with the objections. You can be an unemployed student, leveraged to the hilt, and yet they will show you, on paper, using real arithmetic, how you can afford it. And the word “NO”? Somehow in the time it takes to travel from your lips to the salesperson’s ears it morphs into, “I don’t understand…tell me more…and please keep underlining stuff.” It’s here that you need to be ready for the rough stuff. You’ll be accused of hating vacations. You’ll be labeled as someone who obviously loathes sunshine and steel drums.
Seriously, you can totally afford it. You get $300 in food stamps, right? That more than covers the maintenance fee.
You’ll start to get a little more desperate, so you try the keep-it-real approach: “Hey man,” you lean in sheepishly, so the boss can’t hear, “We just wanted to go to the Sea Aquarium and thought we’d score a freebie. No hard feelings, right?” All that your salesperson hears, though, is, “OK, amateur hour is over. You disgust me. Go get me a closer.” There’s a changing of the guard. Your guy tags out and the next guy steps in. Your file—at this point they have a file on you—gets handed over, and The Closer debriefs himself.
After a moment, the file snaps shut.
“I have just one question for you. Bobby, age 8; Danny, 6; and little Anna, 2; do you love them?”
“It’s a simple question: Do. You. Love. Your. Children? On a scale of 1 to 10, how much do you love them?”
Your conversation gets interrupted by a microphone screech. “We’d like to congratulate Phil and Sheryl Buchannan from Green Bay Wisconsin on their NEW VACATION OWNERSHIP!!!” Wait, why am I clapping? A few tables over, you spot the Buchanans. They look harried, defeated. But they also look . . . free. You regard them with a strange mixture of pity and envy. They just bought a 1-week-a-year condo for eight grand and $230 a month in maintenance fees. But they get to leave. They get to leave.
4. We on a scale of 1 to 10 we love our kids a 4.
You know, once you’ve endured something that was easily the worst experience of your life, you would think you’d be successful in steering clear of…the exact same experience. But, as fate would have it, I’m a total sucker for $25 gift certificates to Tony Roma’s and a night’s stay in Park City. As a result, I have had multiple opportunities to witness sales malpractice of the highest order, and it’s made me a little insecure about how my chosen profession is perceived. Forgive me if I’m a little defensive. It’s just that I’ve seen too often what people have done to the S-Word. They’ve irredeemably ruined it. “Sales” just doesn’t describe what I do. What I do is noble, practically philanthropic. Let’s just say I’m a Professional, and leave it at that.
Troy works in the dental supply industry in which his reputation for being un-salesy proceeds him and is a huge part of his enormous success. He and his wife, a Professional Photographer, are now in a position to buy, like, at least 3 timeshares, but instead choose to donate the money to children’s hospitals and battered women shelters. In his spare time, Troy stalks, kills, skins, and stuffs Timeshare Salesmen one by one. He has 3 children.