Thursday, May 7, 2009

What am I forgetting about?

After all the stress of the last few weeks, last night's email to my guy asked, "what am I forgetting about?" All I've done this week is work, sleep and sometimes eat and watch TV. It's a very odd sense of calm. A world of no impending deadlines or obligations feels nice; it's a little boring and hopefully fleeting, but nice for now... I'm currently working from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m., which is not good. For me, that means I sleep till 11:30 a.m., go straight to work and get back around 8 p.m. to make food, talk to my guy and watch a TV show or two. It's not very fulfilling, but for now my only focus is keeping my stress low and my bank account high. Acting classes, a show and/or another job will come in a couple weeks or so.

As for the new job, I am selling auto warranties over the phone. I am not a telemarketer; my company only calls people who requested information via our website! (No, it is not the advertising whores, US Fidelis, and please do not buy from them. Here's why!) My brother keeps getting calls from a company that hangs up on him when he asks their name; our name is one of the first things we say and we're eager to tell customers about our A+ BBB rated administrator and hundred year old insurance company that backs them...

Our coverage is legitimate and we absolutely never lie about it. However... it is supposed to be a one-call close and I am not comfortable with some of the sales tactics I was taught to make that happen. One way of creating urgency is to tell the customer that they're just over the miles for the better plan and we'll "re-qualify" them or "adjust the mileage" to fit the superior coverage. Obviously the packages really do have cut off points, but they're not listed on our website. Other tactics, like mark ups, financing and holding benefits back as negotiation tools, are akin to automotive or furniture sales. I really don't enjoy the dance; I think it's stupid and I wish it could just be a straight forward, no haggle transaction. On the other hand, I understand how our trainer justified it, he said, "No one wakes up in the morning excited to buy an auto warranty." They are smart things to have and if you don't make people buy them right now, they'll probably forget about it...

They've told me to think about it as an actress, but I tend to side with the customer. I would want to shop around or talk to my partner too. My guy is a decorated sales person who manages an auto dealership; he is confident that I can do well at this job without using dishonest sales tactics that I'm not comfortable with. However, I'm not getting the opportunity to test the waters. As a new representative with few deals to my name, I keep getting assigned high agent numbers; the agent number, which you log into the dialing system with, affects which leads (or customers) you get. Today I was calling people who had requested the information two and a half weeks ago! We'd already gotten their answer machine over a dozen times, meaning they've likely learned to avoid our number. The highest sellers in the office the previous day get the lower agent numbers, meaning hotter, newer leads. It's like the rich get richer and the new kids don't even get the chance to succeed. Although, yesterday a girl with a higher agent number got three deals, so the managers say, "Don't let your number psych you out! They don't matter!" Okay, then why not assign static numbers if they don't matter?

Needless to say, the verdict is still out on this new job. One minute I feel like I could really be great at it and roll in the money. I've already earned two handy cash bonuses, based on a high down payment and high mark up. But when no one has answered their damn phone in over an hour, or when I'm calling the east coast at 9:45 p.m. their time, I just want to walk out! My first week I did four deals, but this week I only have two on the board! Starting our fourth or fifth week, if we don't get five a week we'll be put on probation. Since the pay is a sliding hourly rate, I'm certainly not going to quit, even though there are moments I want to. I'll continue trying to figure it out and even if I don't, I'll continue to take their checks until I fail probation and they fire me!

In the meantime, I need to turn in some restaurant applications and register with Central Casting, a reputable company that hires background actors, aka, extras. I keep hearing that pretty girls can get work through them five days a week. Depending on the pay rate and consistency of work, doing that on weekdays and Universal tours on weekends could pay the bills and beat the hell out of selling auto warranties or waiting tables!

Speaking of industry work, Tuesday I left work early to shoot a promo for ABC/Disney Channel/ESPN. I was paid $50 cash for less than an hours "work" in a lovely local park. It was supposed to look like real people, stopped while they were out and about, and asked to comment on their favorite shows. I delivered lines like, "I can't live without my Desperate Housewives" and "I get everything on Time Warner, it's awesome." Right now the footage doesn't really have a home and will just be used for internal promotion. I don't really know what that means, but it's fine with me that I got my cash and no one will likely ever see it!

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