I was so happy that I was selected as one “of the best of the best” out of a pile of 300 resumes at the in-bound telemarketing center I was hired at. Now, I realize that was a way to stroke our egos so we would enter the telemarketing coliseum. The opponents: the telemarketers versus the leary and weary caller. The task-masters: the managers.
I didn’t realize how extremely difficult it was to up-sell to the callers. It’s easier affiliate marketing on a blog or a YouTube channel and using SubscriberZ to grow a following – at least the message needs to be delivered only once! Imagine that you take calls for various products on infomercials/advertisements and place orders. Sounds simple enough, right? Well, not exactly. I was one of 200+ reps taking calls for people who are interested in stop-smoking programs, male erectile dysfunction (ED) pills, computer/internet optimizers, and people interested in purchasing/renting a home for rock bottom prices. I liked taking the calls (sort of until you hear what we have to do in addition to just selling the product itself) for the stop-smoking, male ED pills, internet optimizer, etc., which are far and few between; like 1 out of 20 calls.
99% of the calls that come in were for this foreclosure website company. The company that places these ads all over Craigslist for houses at a low price (like saying a 3 bedroom/2 bath house for $700 or a 1 bedroom for $375, which is a pretty attractive price) uses the inbound telemarketers to push their foreclosure list. Then, unsuspecting people who are interested in renting a home will call the phone number, expecting to get in touch with the homeowner or realtor, instead, get our call center, and this is when the doom begins (funeral dirge music in the background).
They ask for the phone number of the homeowner/realtor and/or address of the home. This is when we ask a little about why they are looking to rent/buy this particular house, and then the proverbial hammer comes down. We then tell them that the house is still “available” (we’re supposed to act like we’re checking our system to see if this house is still available when it’s a bogus ad), and we tell them that only for $1.95 they can access the foreclosure/pre-foreclosure website for full seven-day trial access.
Then, they yell, swear, cuss, accuse, or just hang up (which is the best-case scenario) with disgruntled statements like, “Why can’t you just give me the address? You’re trying to give me a sales pitch!” then the line goes dead. Anyhow, if we do happen to get somebody to buy the program, we earned $1.50 on top of the measly minimum wage. This is when the fun begins.
After the initial sale of the product(s) that we had wrestled them into purchasing, we had to keep them on the line for an additional 15-45 minutes with “up-sells.” There are four other products we had to sell in order for us to get our full commission (each worth about $1.50):
- A travel discounts program
- A restaurant/store discounts program
- Insurance program and
- An identity theft program.
I had this one lady on the line, and she was the last straw. She ordered the home rental website, and I got all the way to the end, and the whole time she was complaining in a hostile tone: “Wait! I call because I’m interested in renting a house, and you’re up-selling me all this. You want my date of birth to pull my credit report (for the identity theft program)? I didn’t give you permission to pull my credit report!”
At which point, I became so fed up that I just took off my headphones and said, “I can’t do this anymore!” A friend of mine who sat in the next cubicle even commented that if this is drawing out the worst behavior in me (as I threw the headset down and swore and yell that I had slunk down to the lowest level of occupational serf-dom) that I should quit. So I quit the next day.
Thankfully, I have been at my Florida State Department of Health administrative assistant job for almost half a year. Thank goodness, I no longer have to endure people cussing me out for up-selling, nor do I have a critical manager behind me writing down all the things I do wrong and poking and prodding me to up-sell, up-sell, and up-sell! I am no longer 1 of 200 serfs on the bottom of the caste system of this call center. Public servitude isn’t bad at all!
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