The Talking Monkeys: TeleMarketers…Incentives, Bonuses, Perks and other Bananas

The Talking Monkeys: Incentives, Commissions, Bonuses, Perks and other Bananas…

All to be dangled just out of reach… (after all, the whole purpose of the carrot is that the donkey never gets it, right?) He/She just keeps plodding away, pulling his/her load as if just one more step will yield the desired results until the Dream, the Ideal takes on an almost Mythic persona of its own that precludes rational discourse or examination.

The standard paradigm for sales managers is that more than eighty percent of all the commissions go to less than ten percent of the sales force. There is a method to this madness insofar as the top ten percent are elevated to Superstar status over the rank and file. Why? Because if it was a truly level playing field, the Leveling Effect would dilute the desire of the schnooks who have to sift through mountains of shit to even make commission at all.

If you consider yourself fortunate to make, say forty-five thousand gross, before taxes, you will envy those who bank eighty in commissions alone. If everyone could average sixty, and the Vunderkind only made the ten to twenty percent more that the average bell curve would predict, then most of the employees would be happy to just do their jobs, not sweat the small shit, and make fifty.

If you are among the uninitiated to Telemarketing, you are probably asking yourself “But how is it that Management can control who gets what calls?” (and thank you for asking, by the way)….

In the early days (c. Glengarry Glen Ross), you simply either got access to The Good List or you didn’t. This was years before the advent of computer-controlled dialers pre-loaded with lists of leads. It was clearly defined as to whose dick you needed to lick in order to be given the leads for the good prospects. It doesn’t take a great deal of business acumen to separate the wheat from the chaff.

Once computers could be linked to automatic dialers, it was easier to disguise the favoritism. Eventually, the word got out that someone would monitor the recordings, or the live conversations at their discretion, and would assess their Skill Setting, and use various forms of favoritism like place in line versus next available call for inbound calls. Outbound calls that are actually answered by a live person rather than an answering machine can be assigned by skill set to filter out everything except members who are new to the offering, have never been called before, never cancelled their services before, and take more than five prescription medications, for instance. This is a non-stop ride on the Unlimited.

The salespersons who are on this skill set routinely make twelve to fourteen conversions in an eight hour shift and end up with sixty prescriptions. Because they are only sent outbound answers, they are not subject to inbound calls that are improperly routed, who want to make payments or need to speak with customer services that just waste your time.

The percentages of useful opportunities from inbound calls are very low, and also require about four times more documentation to disposition correctly, which just wastes more time, but when you compare number of calls answered, the outbound only dialer indicates more calls answered, so the supervisors tell the personnel who are getting the run of schedule that they need to decrease their turn-around time, as if it indicates some character flaw or inefficiency is responsible for your shitty sales figures.

By contrast, those less favored individuals make eighteen to twenty conversions in the same eight hours, and end up with between eighteen and forty prescriptions on their very best days, but somebody has to shovel and sift the shit, and unless you are really desperate and made to fear for your job on a daily basis, no one would.

Eventually qualification for eligibility to even receive the commission you already earned is tied to quarterly sales goals for the entire division, not even regions or individual operations. Additional barriers include work percentage, schedule adherence, quality monitoring percentages, no written corrective actions, and no more than eight hours unscheduled leave during the commission period (thirty days). So even if you make whatever numbers they require, they can still snatch away your money away from you, even for simply using the paid time off they tell you that you are entitled for sick leave or whatever other excuse they offer and you will be angry, but you will know there is nothing you can do about it because they do it all with impunity. And the longer they do it, the more normal it seems until acceptance eventually numbs your ability to care.

Then manipulations of the stock prices through acquisitions, mergers and other ventures geared mostly to confusing the right-minded employees with melodramatic bellwether pronouncements by the CEO of impending days of uncertainty and belt-tightening causing them to sell off whatever they have invested at a loss only to be bought up again at a bargain right before the company reports record-breaking profits for the next two quarters, driving stock prices (by virtue of perceived value) higher than ever and further separating the Haves from the have-nots. Chances are, most of the people you knew on the job lost money, and most of the people who knew the members of the board of directors at their country clubs made money.

Regardless of what you are selling, you sell one of two things, namely Goods (something of substance, that is finite and measurable, presumably of assessable value), or Services, something that cannot be seen or measured, and is more dependent upon Perception of Value, and is by definition, Insubstantial…having no substance. In truth, both are controlled by a principle called Market Value, which is almost completely controlled by Consumer Perception of Value. If you are selling services, it’s all smoke and mirrors….

Pharmaceutical manufacturers actually produce the product, but distribution and point-of-service sales were completely controlled by Drug Stores, especially franchised chains or networks of stores, until the advent of mail-order prescription delivery delivered a swift kick to the nuts to local drug stores.

First, ninety day supplies were available only by mail order. This was arranged by collusion between the healthcare providers, insurance underwriters, and the prescription benefit administrators who provided management services, namely companies like PharmaCorp. They promised to contain skyrocketing costs to the providers and the underwriters.

Initially, the efficiency of a limited number of warehousing facilities labeled “pharmacies” that distribute over wide areas, the reduction of duplication of services, inventories, and personnel and overhead combined with greater buying power allowed for wider profit margins coupled with a burgeoning market yielded unbridled success, but as is often the case, that was not enough once greed took over.

First to suffer was the quality of the medications themselves, followed by deceptive and misleading manipulations of the minimum legal requirements for truth as determined by entire firms of attorneys already on huge retainers bent on reinforcing the perceived value of their services coupled with a lack of competition breeding a general contempt for the quality of the services or customer retention resulting in legally strong-arming the general public into submission by a lack of choice of alternatives as written into the prescription drug benefits themselves.

The reason they always get away with it is because the very rich, powerful, and financially and socially privileged barons would rather support the rest of the financial aristocracy by screwing the general public as hard and long and repeatedly as they can get away with it, and since they can afford to be as infinitely patient as necessary and because it is incremental and inevitable, it will continue.

Whether they have to victimize a thousand members to support the salary of one attorney, or a hundred thousand members to support the salary of one corporate executive, no one cares as long as there are an almost unlimited number of victims, because if you aren’t a member of their country club, you are just shit on the bottoms of their golf shoes.

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