Archive for January, 2011
This was weird. The telesales lady wanted me to take my business electricity back to E.On.
“What business electricity?”
She then mentioned the name of one of my own business customers.
“Your current contract is coming to an end and I wondered if we could offer you a cheaper price,” she said.
I said nothing. I was trying to get my head round this. Gradually it dawned: When I had called E.On from the customer’s office two years ago to find out the end date of their contract, they must have asked for my phone number and I must have given them my own.
This was brilliant. I must remember to do this every time.
Because, of course, I listened politely. I even stopped washing up and dried my hands. Eventually I asked: “And if I moved my supply to you, would you, personally, get a commission?
She said she would – maybe she thought that if I liked her enough, I would move just so she could get her commission.
Not so. Instead I asked her: “And is it a one-off commission or do you get paid again every time I pay my bill.”
Of course it was a one-off.
“But would you like to get paid every time I pay my bill – that is, every month – month in, month out forever…”
“Forever?” she said.
“Forever,” I repeated.
And the upshot is that now she realises that there is an alternative to working for a wage, she is looking at my business.
I’ve just discovered that people have been leaving comments – and appreciative comments at that. I have a following!
… in which case I had better get on with it…
Here’s real life: One of the New Year’s Resolutions was to go to the gym. It’s not that I’m particularly unfit but having seen myself on the company video, I realise I have begun to stoop like an old man. This cannot go on and maybe the gym will help.
It was as I was coming out that the opportunity arose: I stopped to discuss my membership with the young man on the reception desk: Did I want to pay per session or take a monthly direct debit? Which was most cost-effective? Would I keep on going?
It was only when I was about to get into the car that I realised I had forgotten to invite him to look at my business. Now this must never happen. Everyone I speak to must be invited to look at the business.
But it was raining and I was anxious to get in the car – but that must never happen either. What must be done, must be done… that way lies success. In every other direction lies failure (I talk to myself a lot. I may appear to the passer-by to be mad but it keeps my attitude on course).
So back I went and found the young man talking with his colleague. They looked up.
“I thought I’d come back because I may have something for you,” I began.
They looked expectant.
“May I ask you both a question: “Are you in the market for more time, more money… or possibly both?”
They looked puzzled (they were supposed to look puzzled). They said: “What do you mean?”
And since they had asked, it would not have been polite if I hadn’t told them: “Well, I work with a big company which arranges for shops like Sainsbury’s and Tesco and Marks & Spencers to pay people’s electricity bills. Now what this means for you is that if you showed two people a week how to get the stores to pay their bills, then typically, at the end of the year you would be earning £500 a month on top of what you’re earning now. So would an extra £500 a month benefit you?”
They both said it would. They both said they would come round to my house at 8.30 that evening to join some other people who would be finding out some more.
Neither of them turned up.
Now, I could have left it at that. I could have shrugged and comforted myself with the knowledge that most people will never make the effort to help themselves – but I was passing the gym today and popped in. One of the young men was on duty. He was deeply apologetic. He said he hadn’t finished work until 9.30…
But the fact was, he didn’t think he’d have time for anything else. He was already doing two jobs…
Why was he doing two jobs?
Well neither of them paid very well…
We talked a little about jobs – about selling your life by the hour. We talked about wages and we talked about profits…
And we’re going to carry on talking when I go back in and see him and his colleague on Friday.
I’ve no idea whether they’ll join. If they don’t I shall comfort myself with the knowledge that at least there will always be someone to man the reception desk at the gym – and we do need someone to do that.
“… and what do you do?”
It’s the standard question at parties – and now, at the end of the Christmas Party season, I reckon I’ve cracked it.
The problem is that if you’re a supermarket manager, an accountant, a teacher or whatever, you can just say so and people will know how to respond (it might be boring but they’ll know how to respond).
But if you’re in network marketing you’re in a different world. For one thing people will ask “what’s network marketing?”
Now, when I started nearly six years ago, I thought this was a wonderful opportunity. I mean they’d asked me… I couldn’t very well refuse to tell them, could I?
So I did. I launched into the wonderful services that everybody uses every day – I delved into the compensation plan which pays you forever. I told fabulous stories of ordinary people who had wrought extraordinary changes in their lives through this wonderful industry… and I went on telling them while the mulled wine grew cold in my hand and the Edith Piaf CD went into replay.
It would have been fine if their faces had glazed over and they’d started looking over my shoulder for the cavalry. I like to think that if that had happened, even I would have noticed. But no, they appeared to be genuinely interested (OK, who wouldn’t be?)
The trouble was that in other parts of the room there were other people who were not so interested. Obviously these people had only picked up snippets (otherwise they would have been riveted). But I suspect that to them I must have been something of a spectacle. Imagine a Bateman cartoon “The network marketer at the cocktail party” with people jumping out of windows and drowning themselves in the fruit punch.
My wife had a word with me afterwards and I remember saying plaintively: “But they asked me…”
After that I became much more circumspect: “What do I do? Well I help people save money and I help people make money… how do I do it? Well, I’d love to tell you but that’s my wife over there and if she catches me talking shop there’ll be hell to pay. But are you interested in money? Well let’s get together after the holidays and I’ll tell you all about it.”
And this tactic reached its logical conclusion this Christmas. I had just escaped from the vicar – who was a very nice chap but had a habit of standing there smiling in devout silence while people thrashed around for something appropriate to say to him. Anyway, the next moment, I found myself in front of the new owner of the village’s most tumbledown cottage. This kept us going for a good ten minutes during which time I learned that he had been in public relations, had left London, considered and then rejected the idea of doing B & B and was now going to have to find some way of earning a living in order to support the terrifying cost of thatching.
“…and what do you do?” he asked finally.
“Well, I said,” drawing a breath and scanning for Mrs Passmore’s radar which was doubtless operating at full power from the other end of the room. “Well,” I went on for more dramatic effect: “I think that you might like to take a look at what I do. Would it help you to work from home? and get paid over and over again for work you do once? and build up a full-time income from a few hours a week between the plastering and the joinery?”
“Yes, it would.” he said. “It sounds ideal,” he said. “What do you do?” he said.
“Can’t tell you.” I told him. “Not here. People would accuse me of talking shop – and my wife’s over there, she hates me going into business mode at parties. But if you’re interested, I’ll call you in the New Year…”
As we left he made a special effort to accost me by the door. Pumping my hand, he looked me straight in the eye and said: “You will call me in the New Year, won’t you?”
So I suppose I’d better…
Obviously the hype in the newspapers is justified. In my last post, I talked about a delivery man coming to the door and saying he was about to lose his job. Now our bed and breakfast guest says the same.
She walked the five paces from our elegant “Studio” (which is what we call our former garage) and explained that she wouldn’t be coming next Tuesday after all. Her company was losing money and they were having to cut staff.
I commiserated: “What will you do.”
“I don’t know. I suppose I’ll have to spend the evening on the internet looking for another job.”
“Would you like to see what I do?” I asked her – and with that, wheeled her in to my office where I gave the fastest-ever presentation of our business, knowing that dinner would be ready in five minutes.
I think she got the idea – anyway I sent her back to the Studio with the website address. You never know, it might turn out to be five minutes very well spent.
Meanwhile if you’d like to look at our wonderful accommodation, you can find it at www.debenhouse.co.uk. We have a vacancy for Tuesday…