1 February 2008
Dear Lorne,

By now, being the Anyone Can Host Contest runner up made no difference. The only job I could find in London, since it paid on a commission basis, was selling timeshare. The lucky winners who came to claim their prize, were required participate in a vacation survey, then a presentation and video about holiday ownership, then offered the opportunity to own a piece of paradise. If some chose to become a member, it would take a couple months before the commission came through. At one point my bank account had dwindled to around ten pounds. I was fortunate that the person who usually did the group presentation, Gary, was not feeling well, so that I was able to take his place on a few occasions. If a deal was signed by someone who saw my presentation, I got a cash bonus the same night, whether it cancelled later or not. A little cash in hand was better than a commission check two months later, maybe.

Gary was an actor between productions and by far the top salesperson. His secret to keep smiling all the time was to imagine his customers were naked. He listened, got in tune with the clients and was very likeable. No need for any clever pressure tactics, more like he was making friends than making money. Many sales were made by those just starting, who still had enthusiasm and sincerity, but after a few weeks, the novelty had worn off along with their beginner's luck.

Being American could have been more of a drawback than anything, given the perception of being from a more sales oriented culture, but I managed to consistently provide among the best results. One basic sales technique is to get someone to agree to something conditionally, then remove the condition. After showing an inflated price, then the issue can be narrowed down to a question of cost. Which is when you called in the manager, like a tag team. Whenever possible I would call in Sharon. We had the same low key, helpful approach. Only a low percentage of sales opportunities needed to be converted to be considered successful. If I could help build enough desire, she had a better chance to close the deal.

Our relationship soon became much closer than a mere working one. This being officially against the rules made it even more fun. Some had their suspicions, which were never confirmed, yet at times the truth was overstated so as to confuse the issue. It is so much easier to sell something you believe in. Have you ever had to weigh merit between your beliefs and obligations?

Hope you had a rejuvenating vacation,