It just gone 6 o' clock on a Monday evening in November. It's pitch black already and just nine degrees above freezing. All I want to do is get some unattractive pyjamas on and sit with a duvet and a mug of turkish delight flavoured hot chocolate (my latest addiction) but that's not possible for at least a couple more hours, for soon I will have to go out on my round as a "lady" who sells brochure based cosmetics and perfumes.
I started working for this well known company- you know the one, they ring lots of doorbells- last month, in an attempt to raise some much needed Christmas money. So far I have earned £15 for myself, despite posting brochures through 180 doors. Anyone who thinks this is an easy gig is wrong.
Also, I think I need to accept the fact that I'm pretty rubbish at sales. I have lots of marketing ideas but when it comes to good, hard selling techniques I feel a bit awkward about it. According to the manual all new representatives are given, there are some tips you should use to enhance your sales. One of them is starting conversations with strangers at the bus stop; e.g "That's a very nice lipstick you're wearing, have you ever considered buying from us?" (at which point you whip out a pristine brochure, special offer booklet and a swiss army knife of mini lipsticks and tiny perfume bottles). This plan is flawed for two reasons. Firstly, where I live, starting conversations with strangers at bus stops is far more likely to result in a punch in the face than a lipstick sale. If you're very lucky you might get off with a funny look and some whispering, but it's very unlikely anyone's going to buy anything from you on our local bus services other than bargain priced crystal meth or rohypnol. Secondly,the last time I had to dig around my handbag at an impromptu moment I found the following: a pen with no lid; a sweet wrapper; a wrapper-less sweet; an unidentified black thing; several receipts; some yellow business cards (they weren't supposed to be yellow) and two expired vouchers. The idea of me whipping out anything pristine and sales inducing is pretty far fetched.
And I haven't even mentioned the customers yet. Some are of course lovely. But others have ranged from frosty to downright Antartic, despite my very polite "please just leave the book by the front door with a note if you'd rather not receive any more brochures" letter. I'll only knock if people haven't left their books out- partly because there's the vain hope that they may want to talk to me about an order, and partly because reps have to pay for them and I need them back if I'm going to be able to recycle them around 180 houses. As someone who despises pushy door to door sales people I'm very respectful of people's right to say no, but this doesn't seem to matter to some people, and I've had everything from mild huffing to very shouty "NEVER COME BACK AGAIN!!". In addition to the angry, shouty people, there are the countless ones who lose/recycle/blow their noses on the brochures despite the very clear, polite requests to leave them outside if not needed. And then there's the very nice lady who did make a £55 order, but paid me half of that in coppers.
Now it's getting darker, it's even more of a challenge. With most houses not having outside lights you have to rummage a bit to see if they've left the book by the door, and I am becoming increasingly aware that I could be easily mistaken for a burglar and hit over the head with a golf club or eaten by an angry dog. Last week I knocked on someone's door because they hadn't left their book out, and after much curtain twitching and the slow opening of a creaky door, a woman with one eye appeared , her good side flickering with blue light from the telly. Fortunately I was already shivering so much that she probably didn't notice me jump, but when she said "you frightened me to death knocking the door in the dark!" I nearly said "I frightened YOU to death? Hello!!", pointing at her one eye. Happily, I didn't.
I'm sure I'm not the only frazzled female who's doing this on top of a million other things and is far from the perfect painted ladies of the 1950's. I'll carry on for a few more weeks, but I'm pretty confident that this isn't going to be the way I make my millions. But I have got some very nice freebies, and if you want any doll's house sized perfumes, I'm your girl.