My first experience with telemarketing was when I was 17. My mother was working as a floor salesperson for a company that sold memberships to a discount club. People would come in for tours, and she would show them all the wonderful things they could purchase at deep discount if they were to join. To get the people to come in, a bank of telemarketers spent the days calling random people. “Congratulations!” we would tell them, “You’ve won…”
I hated that line. True, they would get a prize at the end of the tour, but they hadn’t really won anything. The prize was just a ploy to get them to come in, and I knew they knew that. I’m guessing they knew that I knew they knew that, because after weeks of phone calls, I didn’t have a single positive response. Every day, a big zero stood by my name on the telemarketing success board that everyone watched.
The closest thing to a positive response was the one guy who sounded genuinely excited about winning (most people hung up or just said “sorry, not interested”). I was so excited that I almost forgot to ask him the qualifying questions. When I did, we were both disappointed, his family didn’t earn enough for him to claim his “prize.” The one person who could have really used the free whatever-it-was, and I couldn’t give it to him. My heart broke for him and for myself.
Meanwhile, I had surpassed the number of days a telemarketer was supposed to go without meeting quota before they were fired. Although I clearly wasn’t succeeding, my mother was one of their best floor salespeople and so they didn’t want to upset her by firing me. Finally they talked to her and she talked to me, and we all agreed that everyone would be happier if I hung up the phone for good.
So why, 26 years later, have I been spending hours over the last few days making phone call after phone call in hopes of selling our services? The answer is love.
I love my husband, and I want to see his business (one he’s dreamed about for years) succeed. I know that his fear of the phone is even greater than mine. And so, I calmed down the butterflies in my stomach and started calling.
The good news is, this experience has been much different from my first one. Yes, it’s still difficult, and I have to psyche myself up before every phone call, but this time I believe in the service I’m offering, and when I tell a school that we offer free graduation photography services, I can have a clear conscience knowing that what I’m telling them is exactly the truth. Not everyone believes me (and who can blame them with all the scams out there), but by facing my fear I’ve gotten more leads than I had at first dared to hope for.
I still hate telemarketing, and I can’t wait until this is over. But I do love my husband, and I love helping his business succeed!