Thursday, September 17, 2009

Glazed Over

Once upon a time in a previous life, I was a failed double glazing salesman. I tried to be a successful one but following the realization that I was rapidly going insane, living on my nerves and becoming an embarrassment to my wife, I returned my demonstration kit to the company shop on Huntingdon High Street and found myself a “proper” job. Following two days training, I lasted four days of knocking on doors cold-calling and not selling a single pane. I was the world's worst salesman. As you didn't get any money unless you sold anything, I was on the fast track to poverty – not an attractive prospect when you have a wife and three children to support. This company was onto a real good thing, because as there was no basic pay for it's salespeople, they had a free workforce. You were not an “employee”, but a franchisee. You could slog around the doors for all hours the non-existant god sent, but unless you sold anything, you got nothing except totally pissed off , very frustrated and very, very tired.

When I found myself in the classroom with four other guys learning the trade the Company way, it soon became evident to me that this was not a very honest business, at least not in the way it was being presented. I felt a little out of place as I knew nothing about windows, house construction, or anything else related to the windows trade, so I found myself asking rather a lot of questions and feeling more and more like an ignorant Muppet. One of the things I felt uncomfortable about was that there was a fairly hefty “admin” charge which was tacked onto every quote. We were told not to show the admin charge on the quote as the customers did not like to see this – it was a turn-off. The way around this was to add a percentage onto every window (or door) on the quote. After a quick calculation it dawned upon me that this would often result in a much higher admin fee than what it should have been, and having a conscience this did not sit comfortably with me. When I protested to the instructor I was basically told that its a tough world out there so knuckle under and play the game. I think the instructor sensed that maybe I wasn't thick skinned (or dishonest) enough to stay the course, and at one point predicted that one of us would drop out during the first week.

Another thing I didn't like was that it didn't matter what the customer wanted – it might have only been one door or window, we were nevertheless to measure up and quote for the whole house. I decided there and then that I would only do this if that is what the customer wanted. Of course, it was in your interest to get the biggest order you could, but we were being trained to be really pushy and obnoxious.

Now you probably realize this already, but as one who has had first hand experience, I can confirm that no matter how wonderful the deal might seem when you buy double glazing – the whole thing is a con. Everybody likes a deal -we were told. So while we had a “book” price to quote, this was an inflated price from which we could quote various “one night only” discounts. There was a bottom line on how far you could go – beyond which the company would deduct the difference from your commission, so you would try and keep the price high, while making it appear that the customer was being offered an amazing deal. So my advice to you is never accept the first price offered...or the second......or even the third. You will be surprised how low you can go. Think about it – the salesman has been in your house for about the last hour trying everything in the book to make the sale. If he's on commission only, he HAS to make a sale, or its a total waste of time and he and his family don't eat. The whole thing is a game, so play it to the full and you will get the price a lot lower than the first quote. Also, don't be fooled by him ringing up the office to ask if he can quote you a special price – this is all part of the con. Don't be taken in. Just hang in being as awkward as possible. Don't blink first.

I came home feeling depressed and apprehensive. It was the weekend, so at least I could relax until Monday.

Monday came and I linked up with the area manager who was a successful super salesman who had knocked on more doors than I had eaten hot dinners. He had a nice house so I guessed he must have been doing well.

We picked up another salesman and drove out to Warboys where I had my introduction to being a local irritant. I nervously knocked at my first door and waited.

The patter went something like this:

“Good morning Sir/Madam, as we are in your area for this week only I would like to show you our range of home improvements. We can provide a range of windows, doors, room dividers, and conservatories. I would like to make an appointment........etc etc.”

Notice the implication that you are only around for a short time, so its act now or miss out on a great deal. Off course, this was all rubbish as we were always around and could call at any time we pleased. However, we were told we HAD to make the sale on the one night of the demonstration, and could not come back as any offer we made was for that night only. This put the “prospect” under pressure to commit there and then - no second chances. I felt this was a terrible way to do business and really was an intrusion on the way I wanted to conduct what was essentially my own business.

Getting the patter right on the doorstep took a lot of practice, as well as saying it with any real sincerity and conviction, which was not easy when you were being deliberately misleading.

I tried it for four days. After all the rejections and a certain amount of abuse, I began to feel like a social leper. Also, I wasn't getting any appointments which was most depressing. I did finally get one appointment, but after going to the house and doing all the business it was no go. The next day I went out one more time, but after being blasted on a doorstep by some snobby ignorant cow, I decided there and then to jack it in. The next morning the sales kit and samples were handed in and I felt as if a great burden was lifted off my shoulders and I had my life back.

1 comment:

Andy Mule said...

That job must have been a real pain! I am suprised you didn't see through it earlier!
Really sorry, i just had to do it! :(