Once inside the store we had to leave our purses on the table in the break room. We weren’t allowed to use the lockers. Seems safe, right? Hester wasn’t concerned. Probably because she had a hideous and cheap tote, but I had brought my Lucky brand bag that cost a pretty penny. Hester also wore chain mail jewelry, so practicality was clearly important to her. There was metal wrapped around her wrists and through her ears. She revealed that it was because she used to me a welder’s wench at a Renaissance fair. Therefore, she wore chain mail with her pants suit. Sure, why not?
Hester stayed with me for the first few people I approached, things went well, so she made some encouraging remarks and set me loose with a few guidelines. “Don’t approach anyone exiting or entering the store, on a cell phone, or near cabinets.” Hmm? Yes, if you’re selling cabinets you cannot be in the cabinet department. Makes sense. “Oh and, talk to as many people as you can! More is more! JUICE!”
Let the games begin!
I set out. Initially I just bum rushed people, I found that if you walk up to someone with a big smile on your face and keep everything conversational they respond well. Well as in they’ll talk to you, not that they’ll necessarily pick up what you’re throwing down. Women were much more prone to cut me off mid-sentence. After about thirty minutes Hester appeared beside me, “Hi, how’s it going?”
“Yep,” was I supposed to have sold this stuff already?
“Say, ‘Great’. A positive attitude is important.”
“Ok. I’m great.”
She high-fived me.
I noticed her watching me from the end of aisles. The rattle of her chain mail clinking as the darted in and out of my vision. About every thirty minutes she’d ask how I was doing, repeat the Juice mantra, and force a high five. If I answered with anything less than “Fantastic” I was scolded. This behavior upped the stakes as my new game plan was to talk to as many people as possible and run away from Hester. The home improvement store had a fairly straight-forward layout, so in efforts to lose Hester I had to adopt a very erratic flight pattern. I was also about a foot taller than her so my longer stride aided as well.
At 3 o’clock she caught me and said it was time for lunch. I had originally intended to hide in my car for lunch, but since driving my own vehicle like a grown-up was a privilege denied me I had to eat lunch with Hester. That consisted of a granola bar. I checked the contents of my purse, everything was still there. Sweet relief! I checked my phone, I had several text messages from friends which made me laugh.
“What’s so funny?”
“Just something on my phone.”
“Well, I can see that.”
So… I’m not allowed to drive my car, look at my phone, or have unsupervised lunch breaks? I put my phone back in my purse. This wasn’t going to work out for me, I was already losing patience with my supervisor.
Hester pulled out some more materials and lectured me while I finished my granola bar. It was the yummy crumbly kind that came with two, so it took about fifteen minutes. As soon as I threw away the wrapper she announced it was time to get back to work. Leads generally come in the most at the end of our day! JUICE!
I immediately resumed my game of cat and mouse with Hester. I could not handle having to tell her I was “Great” instead of “fine” or “ok” one more time. I talked to some interesting people, sometimes more than once. I had to keep track of my numbers, and I talked to two-hundred people that day. After that long I admit I couldn’t decipher based on face alone if I had already had a conversation with them. I started keeping track of people based on their shoes.
On the forty minute car ride back to the office Hester prepared me for evening atmosphere. Unlike morning atmosphere, I was to expect one on one time with Ogre Boss Man. The whole evening meeting wouldn’t take more than thirty minutes. She reminded me to turn everything into a positive. I hadn’t gotten any leads today, but I had gotten five people to the phones to schedule their lead, etc. Hester’s theory was that I was too nice and needed to work on a sense of urgency, to really make them believe this was a limited time offer. The thing is though, most people I spoke with recognized the pitch and said they get approached by a different person every time they come in the store. Sometimes Hester had already approached them moments before. If anyone had told me I’d have to share a store with other people peddling the same stuff I would have never even attempted this gig.
By the time I walked out of the building it was 8:15 and I still had a forty-five minute drive home. I still had to get up at 5am the next morning to return for morning atmosphere. I maintain that, in theory, I still think I could be successful in sales. I looked forward to being able to travel, but not when I’d be bunking with a small woman in chain-mail barking “JOIN US IN CREATING EXCITEMENT” every few minutes. Needless to say, it was no time at all before I found myself back on the interviewing circuit.