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Thursday, April 5, 2012

Life of a Salesman


Today I spoke with Roozbeh about signing him up with Lumo and at work an Aussie coworker gushed over my accent a bit reminding me that I do actually have one here. Before we left the office today Matt offered a reward for first sale so at 11:30a (a half hour before we even go to turf) I texted in my sale to Roozbeh as the "first sale of the day."

Matt was completely dumbfounded but excited that I had gotten a sale so early. As the day continued I went on to make my personal best of four sales which, including my odd sale from earlier, put me at five sales. On the way back my manager bought me a six pack for having such a crazy good day and I let my teammates have a few while I filled out the tons of paperwork from all my sales. Today was a good day.. apparently someone else did even better though - one of the new reps walked up to a house and said, "hi I'm from Lumo" to which the customer said, "I've heard of you and would like to sign up, come in."

As if that wasn't good enough the guy asked about signing up some other properties and the reps trainer says, "..well, how many other properties do you have?"

The guy responded with 38 other properties... that's one heck of a bonus.


Today we got put on bogan turf... I was pretty excited because I figured they would be the kind of people looking to save a couple bucks. Right off I discovered that these weren't just any bogans - these were the most feral yet snobby bogans that one could ever have the misfortune of attempting to sell to. Most either slammed the door in my face or refused to talk about the reduction. One guy showed me his bill but then as I was getting ready for the vero call he brought up concerns on his unpaid bill. I told him he would be fine as long as he paid it but he wanted it in writing that his service wouldn't be interfered with by the transfer to my company. I explained that he would still need to pay off his overdue bill to keep service to his property but this just pissed him off. He told me that he had a mental condition and that I had better just leave.

I also got a guy who looked funny through the screen door and after a sec I realized he was naked. He got up, put on some boxers and came to the door to tell me to leave... I wasn't the only one dealing with ridiculous people today - Danny was just walking down the street and a random guy just ran up and punched him in the face. He now has a painful shiner that will probably be black in the morning.

It was definitely not a very hospitable place to be; many of the houses were boarded up and the foot paths (sidewalks) even had dead animals on them.

Nobody was making sales today and to add to this unpleasant condition it started to rain. The thunder we had been hearing all day finally stopped threatening and so with flashes across the sky and rain of varying intensity I tried my best to duck from house to house after finishing on one sale for the day.

Back at my hostel I dried off and worked for a bit while Danny made us some eggs and bacon.


Today we started a bracketed competition for a trophy with $100 in it. Danny and I were matched up and at the end of the day we tied 2-2 so we'll have to go again tomorrow - at least we both qualify for manager training tomorrow. Today was another rough day - nobody was even remotely interested all day but in the last half hour I got two sales to a couple easy going types tucked back in a cul de sac. Today Danny and I tied again - Danny made two sales AFTER 6p... both were lucky last minute sales. Back at the office Danny grabbed my grocery list so that I could go work at the hostel while he got all the stuff - pays to have a work mate as a hostel mate!


Today I went to work early for the manager training and out on turf Danny and I competed again. With one sale by 2p I was on track for a great day but it wasn't till 5:30p that I got another and then it was too late to do any more. Everyone screamed as I announced my two sales since that meant Danny had won with three sales. We all had a couple drinks on the way back and at the hostel a girl named Delphin gave me some pasta before my shift. I was still pretty hungry during my shift but fortunately the bar tender had a couple platters of satay and spring rolls that hadn't sold so he let everyone have a go at them.


Today was St Patties day and I am in a hostel FULL of Irish. After working at the hostel this morning I went to Bread Top with Payer the German and got some of the most delicious bread in the world! I've decided to stop there after work everyday from now on. At this point we ran into Ricky, who we hadn't seen for days. Turns out his late night partying and drinking, as well as sleep deprivation, resulted in a heart attack. Unfortunately for Ricky this means no drinking today or any other day ever again.

After a few drinks with the guys on the balcony I headed over to James' for his party. There I met some nice people and ate some great food. One of James' friends, Marty told me about his travels in New Guinea where he noticed people would just disappear due to being killed in tribal vengeance or beaten to death by overzealous kung fu fans. Oh, and crocs almost ate him alive. Marty offered to set me up with a cool woofing experience living in a yurt with a beautiful view and picking grapes and gave me his email.

After a while I decided to head back and meet up with Danny at the hostel. When I got back Danny was waiting for me in order to go to the Irish pub. On the way to the pub I decided to pull out some cash and noticed that my second deposit had gone through - I now have over $1000 in my account.

At the pub Danny couldn't get in because he didn't have valid identification so we went back to the hostel and had a few drinks there as some of our coworkers showed up.


Today I worked for the hostel for 2.5 hours then went back to bed and crashed. Unfortunately I still had another shift and they had to come interrupt my rest for another 1.5 hours.


Today was no good for sales. When you show someone lower rates and they say no because they think it's going to be more expensive... you just can't win. After ending my day with no sales (six sales total for our five reps) we all hung our heads in shame and headed back to the office. It was a good time for a couple drinks but as Danny reached to grab them from the boot his facial expression shifted. He handed me a boiling hot drink and looked at me helplessly. I decided to drink it anyway and Danny followed along as to not have his Irishness questioned even though he strongly disagreed with the situation. Back at the office we headed over to the pub and I ordered some chips. After eating mine I finished off Emily's Parmy then went to Coles with Danny for groceries.


Today was great for sales. We were put back on our turf from Friday and I enjoyed two sales before 3p and another one by 5:30p. After making my sales I met a rep from a competitor, Simply Energy. He was from Ontario, Canada and eager to talk to me about the differences between our companies. He assured me that he wasn't poaching but later I found out that everything he said was likely just that. After picking everyone up Craig handed back a couple Longneck (750ml) bottles of Coopers which we thoroughly enjoyed on the way back. Back at the office we all went down to the pub where a couple of our team bought chips and shared. Amy bought more chips for me and Danny then a Parmy for Danny which he didn't really want so I ate most of it. After enjoying the abundant food supply we went to Amy's and played Call of Duty for a couple hours.


This morning I got to pop a balloon for making my two sales by 3p and won a free night in a 5-star hotel. This is definitely one of the better prizes. Later I trained another rep when we got to turf and had him feeling pretty good about talking to people. After he went off on his own I continued on my way making appointments and feeling pretty confident but at the end of the day I only managed to make two sales. One guy bought only after I went over all the numbers with him for about a half hour so that probably didn't help. The other sale was to a previous customer's mom and we had to drive all the way out to her place to make it happen. After work I spoke with a friend who decided to start his own channel with TRU - he wanted me to join but I explained that I wasn't comfortable with such an unethical move. On the way back to the hostel I enjoyed some Breadtop and made cheesy egg/bacon crepes with Danny.


Today we got some new reps and I was put in charge of training a guy named Matt. Matt was completely nervous and incapable of talking to the customers so I told him to just use repetition until he got the hang of it. Throughout the day I had a couple interesting sales and no-sales. My first customer wanted to buy but backed out of the credit check because she didn't want it to effect her business. Apparently having your credit checked actually damages it... strange. Another customer was not going to sign at the door but I talked her into doing it anyways. My second sale was a guy who had just switched to origin but I sold him on our year-long consistent rates. He actually had some information for me on a job that pays $30/hour just 20 min from my hostel so I got that off him. My last sale was a guy who successfully moved from Liverpool to work at the mines. After knocking a few more houses and checking in at my appointments I met up with my trainee and we waited for half an hour to get picked up. I still stopped at Breadtop on the way back to the hostel where I found that I had burned through another adapter. Fortunately I still have one more left that works. While folding linen with my roommate and hostel coworker, Raphael (from France) he told me about his experience picking fruit and explained that my current job is definitely an impressive start for a backpacker (picking fruit can be pretty gruesome). After linen I did the dishes then made egg, cheese and bacon sandwiches with Danny. Finally, we both got a drink and hung out in the lounge for the rest of the night. Oh, and got my third paycheck today - up to $1473.23 now!


Today I made three sales and could have easily made more but some random guy came out and talked to me for about a half hour. He was nice and had some interesting stories about going to court and his friend being the judge but I could have made more sales had we not chatted for so long. Back at the hostel I had another Breadtop snack and headed over to the Grace Emily to meet up with Danielle and Aaron. Aaron is heading out next week to America to backpack for a few weeks.

Back at the hostel the French guy, Raphael was wearing my shorts. He asked to trade for them and offered me some Billabong shorts in exchange. I was so confused but just went along with it anyways. I figured it was worth the trade since I didn't really care about the shorts and it obviously made him very happy. After working at the hostel I finished early and met a guy from Zimbabwe. He told me about his job as a physical therapist and how he had just moved on from working for a complete jerk during his visa probation period. Now that he is working for real money he has come to a philosophical crossroads. Where he comes from putting food on the table was the main goal but now that he is prosperous his ambitions are becoming something more than he or his family back home had ever previously dreamed of. This inevitably brought us to the discussion of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs; an interesting psychological system outlining what most people seek as they achieve higher levels of social and economic success. In the end we went inside and met a guy who broke his hand while punching a wall... or as he put it "a wall ran into my fist."


Today I worked 2.5 hours for the hostel, took a break, then worked for another three hours. During this time I folded linen while watching TV in the lounge and Danny made us lunch. At the end of my shift I grabbed my push bike and headed over to babysit Cruz so David and Zsusha could go to the movies. As it turned out Zsusha was tired so, after a glass of wine and a tasty lasagna dinner, David and I went to see Margin Call - a dramatization of the GFC (global financial crisis). After the movie we got a couple Storms (Hungry Jack's version of the Blizzard) and headed back.


Today I woke up late, ironed my shirt and went to the meeting hall. Afterward we ate at Copi diom and I went back to the hostel for a bit before heading to Mawsom Lakes via the train for tea at Pillar's place.


Today at work I sold to a guy who has a three month road trip planned for Queensland up to the northern tip. He built a custom off road vehicle with a bed, shower, storage, etc. His plan is to take the most hardcore roads all the way up. After that I spent the next few hours talking to a few people who wanted me to come back the next day and one lady who had me spend a half hour talking to Lumo so I could get her the correct discount because she was too old to figure it out. I didn't have to do this but I got her from 5% up to a 15% discount so it was worth it. After that I was able to make one more sale with an Alinta customer who wasn't in a contract. Back at the office we all went for some pub grub and Matt took Danny and I to the side. He wanted to talk to us and make sure we weren't being tricked into being poached. I assured him that I was not interested in switching companies because that would be risky and unethical.


Today I shot at people with a Nerf gun all morning. On turf I was dropped off in a rich neighborhood where everyone had "Do Not Knock" stickers. The people I did talk to were a bit snobby and wouldn't listen. At 5:30p I was still on no sales but managed to get a double property and even came close to a third sale after that. Unfortunately vero was closed and I forgot that I could do the sale manually...


Today I got eight bills and only one sale. It was a more pleasant day than usual but still disappointing. Danny made eggs and bacon again while I was working tonight and after I had cookies and milk with the Korean guy, William.


At the office today I was sleeping in a bean bag until the last possible second. Out on turf it was another day of trying to convince people that "I'm not like the 10 reps that came before me" but I still managed two sales. One to a guy who was just easy going as can be and another to an old guy who was not sure what was going on but liked the sound of it. He was a real nice, oddly fun old guy and I was glad when I figured out I could actually help him out. He had been with us before so I was just switching him back and making sure he was actually benefiting (it was close because he was with simply but I made it work in his favor). I signed him up, checked that he wasn't getting any termination fees, got his rates and wrote down steps he could take to save a little more with our company. After that sale I tried an appointment where I had already explained on the bill where they could save heaps. The husband was home this time but he just wasn't interested in hearing me out so I had to end my day on two sales.


Today was rough. I got put in a hilly, ultra rich neighborhood full of snobs who wouldn't even open the door. I'd knock and they'd yell through the door, "not interested, go away."
It was a beautiful place though, great landscaping and surrounded by big hills rising above it all.

On the way back I was again told to keep quiet by my manager. As disappointing as it is to not to make sales all day - being talked down to by an arrogant teenager is just awkward. No big deal though, I didn't really feel like talking anyways. Back at the hostel I did a couple hours cleaning and went to sleep.


After working in the hostel this morning I went to the office to meet up with the others for go-carting. After passing a football, playing a game of ping pong, and some target practice with the Nerf guns we all headed to the go-cart facility. On the way Matt had a couple beers and started messing with people on the street. At first he waited until we stopped at each light and yelled to people that they "dropped their pocket" which resulted in them looking for their pockets on the ground while gripping their pocket. After a while he decided he was bored of this (after tricking about six or seven total strangers) and pulled out a bottle of water. He proceeded to squirt Jess with it then at a light got out, went back to the other van, sprayed everyone in the car and their windscreen (windshield). He then pulled out their windscreen wipers and ran back leaving the other van in a ridiculous state with the wipers waving awkwardly away from the windscreen. At the go-cart place we started off with a bit of laser tag during which I had my laser covered with my finger the whole time and couldn't defend myself. Next we waited as a group of kids raced with a few Alinta reps we had run into earlier. After a while it was our turn so we all hopped into our go carts.  I found myself spinning out and at one point Matt came around a corner and T-boned me at full speed. He got his share of bad luck though as he got stuck twice throughout the race. It took some getting used to because these go carts had such a tendency to drift but eventually I was cutting corners and accelerating just like home. At the end I was neck and neck with another guy from the office so as we approached the final turn I eased in front of him unintentionally causing him to crash straight into the barrier. After go carts we went to the pub and played some pool then Amy took Danny and me back to the hostel. There I grabbed some stuff and headed over to Davids.


Today I woke up an hour early due to daylight savings. I went to the meeting hall and afterward worked at the hostel. After work I met a couple, Lars and Samantha from Canada. Lars has been working in Freemantle as a TA (tradesman assistant) making $1500 a week. Some cleaner friends of his got him in through a job agency and he got himself transferred over to the workshop to try his luck as a TA. He found it was very simple factory work with just a little welding patch work here and there. I also met an Aussie who works in a zoo and after a bit they all headed out so I finished my laundry and had a drink with Raphael. Out on the balcony we met up with our Russian roommate, Igor who has been learning English in Australia for the last six months. We all went in to make some pasta, rice and eggs then back out for another drink.


Today I realized why my sales were failing - I've been too imposing. Here in Australia overconfidence is frowned upon and humility is rewarded. They even have a name for this phenomenon - tall poppy syndrome. If you become too arrogant then you become the "tall poppy" and your mates will have to cut you down to size. For example, you don't want to say "I was great" but rather "I did okay."

After seeing that rookies were doing better than the experienced reps a lot of us tried figuring out what we were doing wrong.. I decided to figure out what the rookies were doing right. All I could think was how modest and humbled they were at the door of a customer.. so I pretended to be nervous and awkward at the door. This is actually pretty easy considering that most people make you feel uncomfortable at their door anyways. In short, it worked. I made two sales to people who otherwise might not have even spoken to me. Others who would usually slam the door heard me out and tomorrow I hope to get back to meeting the KPI (key performance indicator).

The German guy, Peer (Payer) came back today while I was watching Batman in the lounge. He had a good time in Melbourne selling Aussie food but still has no money because he spent it all. Apparently this overspending is a habit that he has developed in Oz. In three weeks Peer is going back to Germany - a full 5 months before his visa runs out. He says that he is tired of struggling to get by and referred me to a point when he actually slept in a train station for two and a half weeks because he didn't have any money.

While we were out on the balcony I met a guy named Jimmy from Nepal. He's a hairdresser and, after traveling to India for five years, he came to Australia and lived in a place called Newtown (just outside of Sydney) for five years. Jimmy is finishing the qualifications for being a hairdresser here in Australia so that he can continue traveling the world with more "universal" qualifications. According to Jimmy the royal family in Nepal was murdered and now some "Maurois" (terrorists) are dictating his country. He says they kill innocent people who speak out and that he almost became a statistic himself.


Today I made four sales using my new technique. After getting dropped off I sold to the first person I spoke with and the second person I spoke to ended up buying from me later in the day. The third person I sold to was a guy who had switched four times already just trying to get a better deal on his power. After I told him about the price cap and offer to match/beat any deal, he was sold. The last person I sold to didn't need any convincing - she had just gotten an $80 bill from AGL for one month of power. She literally asked me to give her something to sign before I even got halfway through my pitch.

After my usual Breadtop fix I went to work at the hostel and, while cleaning a couple rooms, I met some Swiss fellas. We talked about life back in Switzerland - the expansive middle class and the secret missile facilities in the Swiss mountains. Definitely an interesting place.


Today I won two balloons for making one of the first sales and two before 3p yesterday. After prizes we went to turf and I was assigned a trainee - Melanie from Northern Ireland. Vero was down all day so I had to do manual sales for the first two sales. I made a sale in front of her with a guy and then that guy took us to his dads house across town so I could sell to him as well. The old guy was something else - totally eccentric, Hungarian and loved touching... I had a good laugh as the old guy flirted with Melanie on more than one occasion. He was also very interested in English grammar and insisted on trying to teach us even though he obviously struggled a bit himself. He called Melanie's English "double dutch" and mine American - which, of course, I couldn't disagree with. After the sale he gave Melanie a bunch of books for learning English grammar and we walked back to turf. I made one more sale with Melanie to a WOW addict and gave her that one then continued walking turf. After a couple doors I had to let her go on her own so I could get my third sale in since it was already 5:30p. I managed one last second sale and ended up going over the info with the customer until 6:40p.


Today I made two sales. The first one was a bad credit, but after that I made two in front of Melanie then sent her out on her own. At this point I had one more sale that flopped due to conditions out of my control and, after being rejected for the remainder of the day, had to move to appointments. Nobody there was willing to sign either so I ended up on two sales for the day. After the day was over we headed back to the office, changed my shirt, and started on the free drinks that were being provided for awards night. We continued at Brunswick bar with a tab of over a few hundred dollars then awards were given out. Kiwi (Jessie) and Amie were honored for being the dude/dudette of the office and a couple others got best manager and stuff. After awards Yannick showed up to say hi, we jumped into a van with drunken driver Matt and he took us to PJs. On the way Matt passed around a bottle of Jeiger and at PJs everyone had a couple drinks then I headed back to the hostel with Yannick.

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