September 9, 2016 — Recently someone provided me a confidential report containing the data etc. from an independent marketing company that books ‘tours’ for a vacation club via a telemarketing operation. I was stunned by the results and as my informant revealed more about what goes on behind the scenes at this phone center, including the number of calls being made by each rep, I was amazed at just how brutal it must be for those working and ‘pounding the phones’ there while most often earning a substandard income.
So Here’s The Scoop: My mole, who still works for this company, sits in a less than stimulating phone room like the others there, stuck in a small booth for what can only be described as a grueling six-hour grueling shift. The reps are only allowed two 10-minute breaks during their shift (AM/PM) and if they want lunch/dinner they must eat while working; and each rep fields (processes) about 250 (+ -) calls per shift.
The telemarketers working for this company receive no hourly pay, no draw Vs commissions, no base or salary and have no benefits, etc.; all the phone reps are 1099 ‘agents’ so they have no unemployment insurance, no paid sick leave, no nothin’.
Additionally this marketing company provides no snacks to keep their reps’ energy levels up, no soft but pleasing background music to kind of liven the place up a bit and what coffee that is provided during each shift, well, it’s less than desirable and I was also told the coffee maker and carafe haven’t had a good cleaning in a while.
And, at times, the shift manager or ‘boss’ is not the most pleasant person to work with and I also learned when the reps are paid many of them dash to the bank the checks are drawn or the nearest check cashing business and hammer the checks for cash in case the company checking account runs out of funds — again.
When commissions are earned the reps are never sure about it because when they make sales this marketing company will not let the rep know if the credit card charges cleared. Nor will this company let the reps know of any charge backs or cancellations, etc.; they must wait until payday to find out that critically important information. No check today? Too bad pilgrim – Next!
In the case of this company each rep is fielding (processing) what amounts to ‘cold calls’ generated by a predictive dialer. These are the lowest cost (penny) leads that any telemarketing company buys in blocks of 10-20,000 or more at a time and then feeds the info into the dialer and that system starts dialing the phone numbers at random; thousands of calls per shift.
Those phone numbers are inexpensive to purchase because they were already beaten to death by the last company that bought the same list and now, again, by this company; each number is called repeatedly until the recipient buys and/or each phone number has been called 5 or more times.
And here are the results, on average, per telemarketer. Each rep, both shifts, will field about 250 (+ -) of these calls per day and do so, on average, working six days a week (1,500 calls each week). That’s about 6,500 calls each month or around 78,000 calls in a year – if a rep lasts that long. Many don’t make it more than a few days or weeks.
About 23% (17,940) of all those calls are answered by voice mail (aka: an answering machine). In another 35% (27,300) of the calls the recipients see the caller ID on their screens, answer, and then hang up on the telemarketer before the rep can even speak their first words.
Next, around 5% (3,900) of the recipients of the unsolicited calls will answer their phone and because they, too, have seen the caller ID (number) they will immediately scream at the telemarketer, informing him that they are on the DNC (Do Not Call) list; (e.g.) ‘…and don’t you ever call here again because I’m going to report you …’ – and then hang up.
Now check my math but that seems to indicate that of the original 78,000 calls that are fielded in a year by each telemarketer they will have around 4,680 shots to at least explain the full proposal, which means that about 94% of the telemarketers’ time is wasted and they don’t have a chance in hell of earning a living.
That also means because this company pays no hourly, etc. that is free labor and other than basic overhead to operate the phone center this company operates 94% of the time without having to pay their reps for their hard and often very boring work.
But it gets worse because when the phone is actually answered by the intended party (name on the computer screen matches the phone number) and before the telemarketer can explain the full nature of the call – as soon as the recipient hears that a ‘vacation’ offer is in the mix about 31% (24,180) will also hang up on the telemarketer proclaiming they are ‘…not interested…’.
And what kind of income (‘living’) are we talking about when the reps make a sale? Well, the short answer is around $75 per mini-vac sold – if, that is, the buyer’s credit card can handle the roughly $300 charge.
My confidant also told me that a decent telemarketer will sell around 8 ‘vacations’ per week; sometimes a little more, sometimes a little less. Including cancellations and/or charge-backs for all the reps’ work they are fortunate to earn between $300-$600 (+ -) a week; sometimes a little more, sometimes a little less.
However, like with all sales gigs there are those shifts and/or one or more days when the telemarketer will have a strong run and sell several in a row — or they may blank many days in a row and when that happens the rep earns and is paid zero, zip, zilch, NADA!
As for the phone room or rep’s individual closing ratio, well, that’s not quite clear in the data because the company’s record keeping leaves a lot to be desired. What is clear is that the ‘house’ is making out just fine especially considering whatever they are being paid by the vacation club per-tour and/or any commissions they are paid on sales in the vacation club, etc.
So why do these hard working phone reps do the job for this type of independent marketing company hawking ‘vacations’ especially considering there are other telemarketing companies that pay a set hourly wage/salary, have a bonus structure and provide full benefits, etc. marketing and selling similar vacation offers that ultimately supply ‘tours’ for vacation clubs and/or timeshare sales centers?
That was my question and what I learned was the reasons cover the gamut from being discriminated against by other companies because of their age (aka: Seniors) and/or needing extra money because they can’t live on their social security benefits income – to being housewives supplementing the household income and other peeps having some sort of a personal ‘issue’ that prevents them from passing a background check and securing a much better sales/marketing opportunity and/or career.
To protect my emissary I have purposely not named the marketing company or the city in which it operates. Naming that entity serves no purpose here because, IMO, the villain is the vacation club or timeshare company buying the ‘tours’ because by doing so they are bypassing and/or reducing their overall marketing costs and eliminating most or all potential ‘employee’ obligations, costs (overhead) and liabilities. In other words, they are having their cake and eating it, too.
However, as soon as I have absolute proof who this marketing company is selling these ‘tours’ to I’ll name both the vacation club in a future column and the marketing company because, in traditional ‘vacation-marketing’ style, those that buy the ‘mini-vac’ over the phone are also told that they are not going to attend a ‘sales-presentation’; which, of course, is a lie as they will indeed be attending a sale presentation to receive the other ‘gifts’ promised.
And I also want to hold off for another reason. My secret agent also tells me that they think a timeshare developer may be, or soon will be, buying ‘tours’ from this marketing company and if that is true and if that can be verified, well, that will also make for an interesting topic to be explored at a later date.
All that said – after chatting with my informant for quite some time and as I ‘crunched the numbers’ over several days I came to one new yuuge conclusion about vacation club and timeshare sales guests (aka: ‘tours’); something that never really dawned on me over all the years that I’ve been working in the Land of Time.
That’s an eye-opener I will also bring to the forefront in an upcoming column, but I now have a whole new perspective about the majority of all sales guests attending a ‘…a 90 minute informative…’
A view point, IMO, that when understood & applied during the sales presentation should also increase sales on those magical little round tables for those working in the trenches at timeshare and vacation club sales centers all around the world. Stay tuned!
Good Luck Out There
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