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The Human Side of Telemarketing
Carol Roach

I subscribe to a motivational e-zine in which the writer spoke about our conscious and unconscious behaviour towards others. The editor made a comment about sitting 30 minutes with a telemarketer and would she react differently towards that person should she be up close and personal.

Here goes:

My comment is about telemarketers as you have questioned your own response to them. This comment hit home. You questioned would you think differently of telemarketers should you speak with them in person for 30 minutes I truly believe you would. What gives me the audacity to believe that? Well I am a telemarketer and I know beyond a doubt that you would like me.

My personal story is that I was a single mom for just about all of my son's life. I struggled in the beginning years after losing my job, my husband, my grandmother(the person who raised me) and my self respect all within the same year. I was on the welfare system for about 5 years then decided to go back to work, I went to school to upgrade my secretarial skills. I worked for about a year and because of the recession that year, my work history was sporatic and entailed short periods of employment -5 mts here, 2 mts there, etc. Finally when I was not getting anywhere as jobs were closing down all the time in Montreal (in the early 90's), I decided to go to university and do what I always wanted to do which was psychology.

I struggled 7 long years in university being a single parent and financially distressed. My son was also a juvenile deliquent so I had really more than I could handle but miracously I handled it. I received my masters in counselling psychology in June 1999.

At the time I was in school I thought for sure that there was a golden job waiting for me and my life would suddenly change by 180 degrees. Guess what? - there wasn't. I am still looking for a job in my field but the only job of abundance in Montreal (the telemarketing capital of North America) was telemarketing.

I had to swallow my pride and do what I had to do which was to get a job and pay the bills.

So who are telemarketers anyhow? We are young people with no skills getting our first job. We are older women returning to the work force after 20 some odd years as a stay at home mom. We are single parents needing to juggle raising our children around working outside of the home. We are wives or husbands who desparately need to make that second income to support our families.

We are students who supplement our income or pay our way through school by working. Please note that the fact that a telemarkers hours are flexible lends well to the student's working availability. Furthermore, we are university graduates who have not been able to acquire our first job in our fields as of yet. We are older people who have had wonderful careers and have now found ourselves out of work because we are too old, the company downsized, or went out of business. Similarly, we are entrepreneurs whose businesses have failed. We are visible minorities who have been faced with discrimation on the job market all of our lives. Finally, unique to Montreal, Quebec, Canada, we are unilingual english speaking Montrealers who cannot find work because we don't speak french.

Are we the low life individuals that gave telemarketing a bad name - you know the ones that swindle senior citizens out of their life savings? - Absolutely not. These people are not telemarketers they are crooks, and individuals without a soul, they are frauds and con artists posing as telemarketers.

Telemarketers are in fact decent people like everyone else just trying to make a living. Do we let down our morals, principals, and values to do the job at all cost? I would say perhaps 20% do and they rise to the top and make loads of money, However, most telemarketers barely eek out a living.

Why is that you might ask? The answer is plain and simple because most of us have morals we can't sell a product that we don't believe in. In other words, we can't sell binoculars to a blind man or snow to an inuit (eskimo). Because of that, we don't generate the amount of sales that is required to make the big money. We hesitate in our presentation and often time purposely lose a sale because our conscious will not allow us to sell to the individual on the line knowing the circumstances that befalls that individual. Oftentime we are fired because our sales volume is low or we quit on principal. The lesson we learn from this experience is to choose our next telemarketing company more carefully or if we are luck enough we can find another job more suited to our needs and special talents. So Dr. Sandra would you feel differently about a telemarketer if you sat down and talked with one of us - I know you would!

Carol Roach, Winterose706@hotmail.com

Carol Roach has a Masters Degree in Counselling Psychology, loves people, animals and writing. She has published articles in various e-zines and plans to write a lot more.