Archive for September, 2010
…or rather “No thank you”.
One after another all the people going to and from the car park said “No”.
No, they did not want to enter a prize draw to win a Mini – or even £10,000 which is the alternative prize the company has just added.
I can usually rely on somebody to go for it – which is why I consistently get two entry forms filled in every day and thus comfortably fill my quota of people to talk to about my business.
But not yesterday. Yesterday they were in a hurry or their parking ticket was running out or they had ice cream in their shopping bag and it would melt… or to put it another way, if they didn’t want to enter my draw, one excuse was as good as another.
So today I changed tack. Instead of setting the target of two forms filled in, I set one of five “no’s” – the assumption being that before I reached it, I would pass my old target of people to talk to without even trying.
This is what happened:
“Hello, can you do me a favour?”
- Yes, what can I do?”
“Well every day I try and find 5 people who don’t want to win £10,000 or a new car – would you be one of those?”
The first four people looked at me as if I was mad. Then they made an excuse and scuttled off.
The fifth said: “What do you mean ‘people who don’t want to win £10,000.”
“Exactly that,” I told her. “I need people to enter this prize draw and I don’t like them saying ‘No’ so I ask for people who don’t want to enter and that way I get a result. It’s much more satisfying.”
She looked at me and weighed me up. Then she decided to be awkward: “All right then, I do want to enter your draw.”
Wearily I opened my folder and started writing down her name. Then she wanted to know what it was all about and I had to tell her that as well. Finally she wanted to know how I could save her 25% off her household bills to begin with and why that saving would increase as time goes by.
And as a final insult, she insisted I go round tomorrow to do an asessment.
She’ll probably want me to sign her up as well. Really! some people have no consideration…
There is a postscript to all this. As I was driving off, congratulating myself on my appointment, I suddenly realised that I had failed to get my five “no’s”. I was still on four – so I took the exit and ended up in the PC World car park. For some reason it was empty and then it transpired that there had been a power cut. The staff were all outside sending the customers away.
Fortunately for me the young man who explained this also said he was too busy to enter a draw so instead I gave him a card.
“What’s this?” he said.
“It’s about money,” I told him. “Are you interested in money?”
- I certainly am.
“Saving it or making it?”
- Well both…
And now he says he’s coming to our open evening….
Just think: If I’d been going for yes’s – or more precisely, one appointment a day, I would never have met him.
I seem to have two blogs going.
I’ve joined a business networking organisation called 4Networking and they have a very good forum devoted to Multi-Level Marketing. I see nothing to be lost by simultaneously posting on there whenever I update this blog.
And that was how I came to be taken to task over the “Parking Problems” post of a few days ago. Today I replied and, naturally I don’t want to waste it, so here it is:
Phil Hendy wrote: “If you came up to me in a car park I would very politely tell you to get lost.”
Yes, this does happen – although generally you get a simple “No thank you”. However I find that is very rare. A good 90% of people are happy to take a card and say: “Thank you very much”. Believe me we wouldn’t do it if people were unpleasant to us – life’s too short.
But what you must remember is that some of those people who say “Thank you very much” go on to bless the day they were introduced to network marketing. I know how grateful I am that someone thrust a leaflet into my hand back in 2005. Without that I know where I would be today – where many 61-year-old men with inadequate pensions find themselves: Filling shelves at Tesco’s at two O’clock in the morning – go and have a look some dark night. But instead of that I no longer have any financial worries whatsoever.
I do appreciate that to people with traditional businesses, Network Marketers can seem a bit evangelical. For instance today I am very excited after having it explained to me that in order to earn the same amount I get paid annually from signing up two customers a week, I would have to invest £14,000 a week in an ISA. No wonder the IFA who worked this out has signed up his firm as a distributor. Now he will offer all his clients a choice: Either invest £14,000 a week or put in two hours part time work in Network Marketing.
Yes I know it sounds ridiculous and I know that if I were well set up in a traditional business and somebody showed me something this far-fetched I would laugh at them and deride their “scatter gun approach”. But the fact is that these days you can have no idea of someone’s financial circumstances just by looking at them. There are plenty of people with large houses, two or three cars and supposedly steady jobs who are secretly mortgaged to the hilt, up against the limit on their credit cards and not sleeping too well at night as they wonder whether redundancy is stalking them.
The media tells us things are only going to get worse. Large scale redundancies are predicted in the public sector and everyone knows that the idea of a job for life belongs to pre-history. I hope I don’t sound too pious if I say that I feel an obligation to offer my solution to as many people and I can – and yes, I admit it does make me feel good when I know I have helped someone turn their life around.
A light drizzle was falling as I passed the tennis courts with the dog. This being 7.30 in the morning the only people out were the people who had to be – like me and the dog who would not otherwise get a walk before the evening.
But also there were the tennis players – the very keen tennis players.
I was just thinking how keen they must be when a ball pinged into the netting right beside me making the whole structure shake. That had been one powerful serve.
And that was when I saw her. Standing at the opposite end of the court, eyes narrowed like Clint Eastwood squinting over the top of his Magnum 44, she could not have been more than ten years old.
Bam! she let fly another. The coach got to this one – but he had to run. I was mesmerised. How did anyone so small hit a ball so hard? The boy on the next court looked a couple of years older but he was nowhere near her league.
Since I’m not normally out dog-walking at that hour, I had no idea the children had their lessons before school. But that seems to be the way it is these days: If you want to hit the big time you have to practise hard, practise early and start when you’re young.
There was a father standing under the roof of the pavillion, hands in pockets, watching.
“Is that your daughter,” I asked him. “I can’t believe how hard she’s hitting that ball.”
In fact he was there with his son. But he chuckled: “You’re right. All the boys are scared of Harriet.”
We chatted for a minute or two about tennis and children and chauffering duties.
And then, of course, I said: “By the way I’ve got something here that might help with the cost of tution. Would you like to see it.”
There was just a touch of desperation in his voice as he said that anything would be welcome. So I told him about my friend who’s son is now at a private tennis academy – about how they had to move house to one with a tennis court.
Digging out a DVD, I said non-committally: “It worked for him. Take a look.”
Q: Who drives seven miles out of their way past a Texaco filling station to get to a Sainsburys filling station?
A: A distributor in my business who is anxious to show how much of his electricity bill gets paid by Sainsburys every month.
In other words: Me.
I admit it is a bit over-zealous. But today maybe it paid off because before filling up with petrol, I popped into the supermarket to try and get a new hands-free kit for my phone to replace the one I seemed to have trodden on – and there, in the car park was a young man in a suit.
Young men in suits always get a Piggy Card: “I see you’re in business,” I said. “I always give people in business a card…”
Then I looked at the visitor’s pass he had clipped to his top pocket. It was the sort that shops give visiting sales people for “access all areas”.
“Are you in sales?” I asked, suddenly serious.
“I’m always on the lookout for top sales people. Would that describe you?”
At this point an elderly woman appeared at my elbow. She was pushing a huge trolley containing a loaf of bread, a tin of mushroom soup and the smallest frozen chicken ever to appear on a checkout.
“You want to park your car properly,” she said, poking me with the end of the trolley. She gestured at a passing Ford Focus: “That man had to drive all round it. You shouldn’t leave a car parked like that. That’s a menace, that is.”
“Yes, of course,” I said, somewhat distracted from my flow. “I’ll move it at once… only (and this to the young man) I’m always on the lookout for top salespeople. Would you be interested in an extra income?”
“Cause an accident, that will,” said the chicken lady, “parking like that all sticking out.”
“Yes, I’m sure you’re right. I really shouldn’t have left it like that…just have a look on the website…”
“Disgrace that’s what it is….”
At this point the young man chipped in: “What’s it all about…”
“Look I’ll move it…”
There are times when you know you’re beaten. Napoleon, if he ever shopped at Sainsburys, would have recognised the feeling. I thrust a DVD at the young man: “Just have a look and give me a ring.”
And with a good deal of unnecessary revving I moved the car and went in to discover that Sainsburys do not sell hands-free kits.
But I comfort myself with one essential truth: That if the young man turns out to be the right person, it will not matter that I said all the wrong things.
If he wants to join me he will – he has my number.
And if it turns out that what he really needed was a slick presentation uninterrupted by frozen chickens and their frosty purchasers, then he’s not the person I’m looking for anyway.
And if we must look at the worst-case scenario, I’m still going to get an extra £2.15p off my electricity bill…
So I am to have a sinus graft – you don’t want to know what this involves but it appears to be the dental equivalent of getting in a builder to deal with a major case of subsidence: It will take months, involves major works and will cost a fortune.
It is a cue for the dentist to try and take his patient’s mind of the issue at hand: “And what do you do?” he asked brightly.
“I show people how to cut their household bills by somewhere around 25%,” I told him through gritted teeth ( what’s left of them).
“Really,” he said.
And the next minute he was giving me his home number and saying he’d warn his wife I’d be calling.
You see, it pays to have your response so ingrained that it just comes spouting out at the least provocation.
But actually it was what happened after I left the surgery that was more interesting: No sooner had I started the car than my mobile rang: It was a young man wanting to know if I would like to to renew my subscription to First News. This is an excellent newspaper intended for children and mine really do read it so I was quite happy to say “yes, please.”
And then I went on: “By the way may I compliment you on your telephone manner. You’re really good – did anyone tell you that?”
“What don’t they appreciate you at First News? I’d have thought they ought to give you a pay rise they way you do your job.”
Chance, he told me, would be a fine thing.
“Really,” I was warming to my theme now. I pulled up on the grass verge. “Tell me, would you be interested in looking at ways to earn an extra income alongside what you do already?”
And the best bit is that since then, we have had to have another conversation because I didn’t have my bank details with me in the car and he needed them for the direct debit – and when he did call for them he had had a first look at the website (or as much of it as he could in the office which he claims runs something like Windows 98 and doesn’t provide speakers).
But what he did see excited him: “I’m off to Uni in a few weeks. Could I do this there? Would it help pay my living expenses?”
“Interesting you should mention that. When you look at that website on a decent computer, you’ll see a video. It’s presented by a guy who joined this business when he was a student. Now, at just over 30, he lives a semi-retired lifestyle – although, I suppose that he could be completely retired if he wanted to. Certainly he seems to go on a lot of very expensive holidays and he doesn’t have any other occupation.”
“Right,” said my young friend.
The words “done deal” came to mind.
We shall see.
The guest nodded at the Mini and said: “We’re members of that.”
I wouldn’t say it’s exactly a daily occurrence with our bed and breakfast guests but it is happening more and more often as the Discount Club spreads inexorably across the country.
“Really,” I said. “Who introduced you? Are you saving lots of money?” Sometimes I know the distributor who signed them up. Sometimes they’re only using one or two of the services or don’t have the Cashback Card – which is a big mistake.
But no, he couldn’t remember the distributor’s name. It was so long ago.
“So long ago?”
“About twelve years… I flirted with being a distributor too.”
It turned out that right on my doorstep, I had one of those legendary people who were in right at the beginning – and like most people right at the beginning, they found it impossibly hard and gave up.
Of course the people who didn’t give up are now earning fabulous incomes – but then they deserve them. As I told our guest: ” It was incredibly hard in those days. The company only had one product – a little plastic box shaped like a pig which was supposed to give you cheap phone calls. Unfortunatly plenty of them didn’t work. When people called the office to complain, nobody answered the phone. The horror stories are legends. But that was before the present management team took over. it’s very different now.
“Now there is not just the phone but Broadband too – and mobiles and gas and electricity – and the company is listed on the Stock Exchange. In fact it was named the Financial Times Company of the Year last year. Then there’s Which? Magazine recommending it.. and 35 big retailers liek Boots and M&S and Sainsburys and B&Q in partnership to help the members save money…”
He stood and listened, apparently enraptured – which is an odd state of mind for someone listening to stuff about gas and electricity.
But then we started talking about him. He had been a photographer for years but eventually it got too much for him – it’s an arduous occupatioin. Now he works in the local library and is due to retire in two years’ time.
How would he fare then, I asked.
“We’ll be all right,” he said.
All right!… ALL RIGHT!! Why should anyone be content with being “all right”.
What “All Right” means is that when he retires, his income will drop by at least a third – maybe even half. OK so he won’t starve but is that any way to enjoy your golden years?
At this point I went into Public Service mode. I just can’t stand by and see anyone head down the road of near-poverty for the rest of their life when they don’t have to.
I gave him a DVD. I said: “Watch this and imagine what would happen if you started now, part time: By the time you retired I bet you’d have made up for the drop in income – or at the very least you’d be well on the way to making up for it. And then, over the following years you could get a pay rise every month so that by the time you’re 70, you’d have more money coming in every month than anyone of that age can reasonably spend. You could give it to the children. You could give it to charity…
We’ll see what he thinks. But at least I know I did my bit.