Wednesday, 28 April 2010

The ups and downs of a travelling salesman

Gordon Brown's drama today reminds me of a time, long ago, I worked with a pair of travelling double-glazing and central heating salesmen.

My task was to walk estate streets, knock on doors, and make appointments for their sales visits. When sufficient appointments were gathered the sales guys swept into the estate in their top-of-range limo, smoothed down their mohair suits and began their staged sales blag inside each family home.

To prospective customers they presented themselves as successful entrepreneurs, oozingly sympathetic to domestic problems, with every solution to a home's structural needs. It was a sleekly experienced pursuasive act, using every psychological cue, with the sales guys aiming to become adopted as the decision-maker's best friend and even godfather to any children.

Back in the car, the story was very different, whether they'd experienced a sale or a fail. Those who had rejected the sales guys extended efforts were illiterate, no-hoping idiots. Those who had succumbed to their sales act were idiots too—soft-headed, malleable suckers who'd fallen for all their tricks.

Fortunately for the salesmen, there were no hidden microphones recording the their real feelings toward the often vulnerable people they sought to pursuade, befriend and lift money from.

The nice man, nasty man trick. Sometimes when interviews went badly, a sales guy would return with a colleague who would harangue the householder in front of his family for not taking advantage of the opportunity he'd been offered. Nice guy would then intervene to calm and resolve the situation, playing down disagreements and smooth-talking the customer into gratefully accepting a very special offer.

Comparisons between these professional styles and those of our Prime Minister are, of course, subjective.

1 comment:

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