Practices

Independent Sales Offices affiliated with a DS-Max descendant companies share signature business practices.

NB: Some content overlaps with the main Article. Apologies for the repetition.

  1. The Recruitment Process
  2. The Business Progression Programme
  3. The Office Lifestyle
    1. The Typical Day
    2. Conventions
  4. The Taught Sales Techniques
    1. Theories
    2. Tactics
    3. Other Tactics
  5. Terminology and Chants
  6. Footnotes

The Recruitment Process

      1. Typical job postings found on recruitment sites advertise a full time permanent position with an immediate start. Earnings are £15,000-£30,000 ($25,000-$50,000) per annum, although there may be mention of potential earnings of £250–£500 ($400-$800) on average per week. They have misleading job titles (such as “Trainee Marketing Manager”, “Sales Executive” and “Hospitality Management Training Programme”) and often mention a ‘fast track’ business management programme or training scheme. They are entry-level jobs with full training included. The company may emphasise their impressive resume of represented clients. The name of the affiliated sales company is used for the recruitment process so it is not associated with bad press from any discredited company names. Thus any company information is limited.
      2. Potential candidates are contacted within hours of submitting their CV to arrange an interview or a ‘First Appointment’.
      3. Multiple people are interviewed on the same day. These independent sales companies are always ‘expanding’, meaning they recruit as many people as possible. During a short interview the Manager briefly outlines the structure of the business, mentions marketing, and asks a few general questions. Successful candidates are notified by the end of the day and asked to participate in a Day of Observation.
      4. The Day of Observation consists of following a Leader selling a product or service for 8–10 hours. This can be door-to-door, in a shopping mall or business-to-business. The candidate may sign a form confirming they are aware the day is unpaid. At the end of the day there may be a questionnaire. There is a final interview where the Manager overturns objections, and describes the Business Progression Programme. Candidates will inevitably get offered the job, usually starting the following day. There are no background checks.
      5. The candidate must sign an Independent Sales Advisor Agreement stating that they are not an employee of the company and that the role is 100% commission based.
First email I received

First email I received

Image of second email received

Second Email received

Image of third email received

Third email received

The Business Progression Programme

The recruits are told of a Business Progression Programme or Management Training Scheme that takes 9–18 months to complete. Progression to the next level is ‘performance based’.

Field Representative/ Independent Sales Advisor/ Distributor

Earnings average £200–£350 ($320-$560) per week and are entirely commission based. All members begin here. Field Representatives (FRs) tend to sell products or services door-to-door. After reaching certain requirements based on the criteria the office has set, FRs become promoted.

The average earnings are based on a business model of 1 sale in every 25 houses visited. In reality this is an optimistic estimate. FRs need to take into account the total number of hours worked and expenditures. There is no contract, basic salary, benefits, pension or references since FRs are ‘self employed’. Some offices may only pay the first week’s commission at the end of the fourth week, and so on. A portion of the FRs commissions are kept as a Security Bond.[1] Most earn far below minimum wage and not enough to sufficiently live on.

Team and Crew Leaders

Earnings average £300-£500 ($480-$800) per week. In reality Leaders are not paid any more than FRs. A more impressive job title accompanies a greater level of responsibility, usually involving the teaching and management of FRs. There are frequent Leader’s meetings with the managers.

To become a Crew Leader, and to be considered for the Assistant Manager post, a member must:

1) Personally train 5 people to Leaders, directly positioned underneath them, who in turn must train others.
2) Have a crew of 10–15 people.
3) Reach a certain level of profit (set by the manager).

These are incredibly difficult goals, making this stage the furthest stage the vast majority of people get before quitting.

Assistant Manager/ Assistant Owner

Basic salary of £250 ($400) per week, plus commission from the office (a supposed total of £600-£800 / $960-$1,200 per week). Assistant Managers are still required on the field 20% of the time but receive double the commission. Assistant Managers shadow the Manager and learn about setting up a business (legal, HR, admin, client liaison, event management, accounts/finance, public speaking and recruitment).

Rather than typical business classes, focus is on the DS-Max business model. Assistant managers aim to put aside £15,000 ($24,000) to set up their own limited company at a new office with half of their workforce in the current office.[2] The Manager encourages the Assistant Manager, despite the loss of workforce when moving to a new office, since they receive a percentage of the new office’s profits from the Descendant Company.

Managers/ Owner

Earnings average £65,000−£100,000 ($104,000-$160,000) per annum plus approximately half of all the office’s income. Managers manage their own limited company and marketing campaign.

Managers are dependent on the number of sales their workforce can generate. A tough campaign, unchecked leaders, overlapping territories with other offices and an inability to motivate members can all lead to failure. Only 10% of offices succeed within their first year.[3][4] Managers can easily be put back in their original office to build a new crew, or told to uproot and move to another area.

Regional Manager/ Organisational Head and Vice President

Rewards are steep for those that retain successful offices and promote other successful offices. The more offices and companies a Manager promotes the flashier his/her title becomes and the more bonuses they are entitled to.

If a Regional Manager runs a substantial number of sales offices they become Vice President. This is supposedly a £155,000 ($250,000) basic salary plus cuts from all the offices they run.[5] They oversee their organisations, visit offices and teach others how to run campaigns. They can be found giving motivations speeches at large conventions.

The Office Lifestyle

The Typical Day

Most of a FR’s waking hours from Monday to Saturday are spent working. Members are not required to follow the day schedule, however most do since they are told it affects their chances of progression.

Early Morning

Most of the morning is spent in a room called Atmosphere. There are no chairs and inoffensive music is always blaring. Groups of FRs lead by a Leader use whiteboards to teach selling techniques. There may be games. Impacts take place, small meetings where a respected Leader, High Roller (a high earner) or Bell Ringer (someone who had done well the previous day), give tips and suggestions to inspire and help others. There is Pitch Practice and roleplay.

During the morning there may be a Leader’s Meeting where Managers and Leaders discuss strategies to ensure everyone has the right mentality. FRs talk privately to the Manager or Assistant Manager to find out how they can get ahead. Any new recruits are welcomed and made to feel like part of a family.

Mid Morning

The Manager then takes to the stage, listing Bell Ringers and promoting a few FRs to Leader position who is congratulated with cheers, chants and high-fives. This is followed by a motivational speech where upcoming events are promoted and the Manager describes their own humble beginnings. Quitters and typical 9-to–5 workers (who lack the required motivation/effort) are shamed. Progression is made to look achievable with hard work.

Lunchtime

Leaders may then be assigned new observers (for their Day of Observation) and merchandise (if applicable) is collected. Leaders may buy lunch for their potential recruits. A territory for each respective crew is decided, which could be up to 2 hours away. Travel and other expenses are paid for by the FRs themselves.

Afternoon and Evening

Fieldwork lasts for 8–10 hours. This is normally the selling of a product or a service within a predetermined territory. At 5pm the crew may meet up for a short break and a snack. Leaders ensure everyone has the appropriate mentality throughout the day. Around 7–8pm everyone regroups and travels back to the office.

End of the day

Back at Atmosphere sales are tallied up and/or FRs are given goals to achieve the next day. FR’s with the highest number of sales get to ring the bell to wide applause. Observers who completed the day are interviewed. Any completed applications for subscription services are submitted and unsold merchandise returned to the supply cupboard. Leaders are encouraged to stay for longer and are the last to leave the office. There may even be another Leader’s Meeting or a pub outing.

Conventions

Every few months Managers run a Conference at a hotel for those selected as Rising Stars. There is also a huge Rally once or twice a year for all members connected with a descendant company. There is chanting, shows, dancing and large awards designed to inspire others. Vice Presidents give motivational talks. All conventions have a general party atmosphere.

The Taught Sales Techniques

Theories

The Law of Averages

According to The Law of Averages, the more people a FR meet the more sales they will make. FRs should therefore always be seeking out as many people as possible and not become disheartened by a lack of sales during the morning, since they will catch up in the afternoon. A full eight hours is needed for the Law of Averages to kick in.

Green Light Theory

This dictates that, on average, 10% of potential customers are Red Customers who respond negatively and cannot be swayed otherwise. 10% are Green Customers who provide quick and easy sales. And 80% are Amber Customers who are in need of convincing. By turning Amber Customers ‘green’, the FR’s are ‘increasing their law of averages.’

Three Lap System

The Three Lap System is supposedly the most efficient way to meet the maximum amount of people within a given territory. By the end of the day FRs hope to have gotten into at least one in every three houses visited.

1) Lap 1: 1pm–4pm. FRs attempt to knock on 150 doors. Any sales made during this time are a bonus as this is to filter out Red Customers.
2) Lap 2: 4pm – 6pm. FRs goes back to the doors that did not answer or to appointments that had been arranged. Parents, workers and decision makers are usually at home.
3) Lap 3: 6pm – 7pm. Again, FRs goes back to the doors that did not answer. This is the power hour (prime time) when everyone is usually at home. Most sales take place here.

Tactics

Tactics are based on Attitude – the FR’s state of mind. The better the attitude, the more sales.

The Five (Steps)

The initial sales pitch is divided into five steps.

      1. Introduction. This section usually includes an icebreaker, often a variation of ‘don’t worry, nothing serious.’
      2. Short Story. The FR states their name and outlines who they work for, often displaying their ID badge.
      3. Presentation. The FR explains the purpose of the visit and the deal. Any benefits are stressed.
      4. Close. The FR gets the person to consent to buy. C1 = getting through the door.
      5. The Rehash. This is where the FR goes through the details of the deal before they sign someone up so that the customer will not cancel as soon as the FR is gone.

SEE/SEX (Smile, maintain eye contact and express excitement about the product/service) and KISS (Keep it Short and Simple) factors are used throughout.

The Eight (Working Habits to Success)

      1. Have a positive attitude. If FRs sell themselves and move people using their attitude and enthusiasm it will encourage sales.
      2. Maximise your territory. FRs should approach every business or residence in the territory. They should talk to everyone and not prejudge. According to the Law of Averages some doors will be sales.
      3. Be on time. Timing is supposedly essential for management.
      4. Maintain your Positive Mental Attitude. FRs should maintain a positive frame of mind and be indifferent to all negatives.
      5. Be prepared. FRs should plan ahead and be organised.
      6. Know why they’re there and what they’re doing. Although sales are important it is emphasised that the primary goal of ‘fieldwork’ is to perfect the FRs’ skill set.
      7. Work a full eight hours. This demonstrates the necessary amount of effort required to hit goals.
      8. Take control …of Atmosphere, the customers and their future.

FIGS/FUGI/GIFTS/ Impulse Factors

These are strategies to lock the customer in without them knowing it (and to sell to those wavering).

      • Fear of Loss. FRs pretend the deal is in some way limited or starts to walk away, prompting the customer to not want to lose out.
      • Indifference. FRs act like they don’t care if the customer buys or not. This increases desire.
      • Greed. FRs try to make the customer desire the product/service, such as explaining the nature of the savings and stressing the benefits.
      • Sense of Urgency. FRs implicate the deal is time sensitive. The Toilet Dance (just what it sounds like) can be used to install a sense of urgency.

FFF: Feel Felt Found

The complex version of R&R: Relax and Relate, when responding to hesitation.

      • Feel. FRs sympathetically tells the customer they have been in a similar situation.
      • Felt. FRs explain a situation when they had encountered negatives such as losing money.
      • Found. FRs explain how they have benefited from the deal, or that they wish they had known about the deal.

Jones Effect [6]

FRs hint that neighbours or friends have already bought the product/services, perhaps mentioning names. This installs confidence in the customer and indicates the customer may be left behind.

Other Tactics

FRs are also taught the following tactics:

      • 2 no’s and go. If customer says no twice, leave.
      • The Bullet Theory. Statements are rapidly fired at customers before they can respond (in order to overturn negatives).
      • Don’t wait more than 10 seconds for someone to answer the door.
      • ABC: Always be closing. Find creative ways to try and close a deal.
      • Pre-emptive strike. Answer any potential questions before customers have a chance to ask.
      • Jedi Nod. The FR nods their head, and since the customer may unknowingly nod back, they are consequently more likely say yes.
      • FRs should concentrate on what they can control: PPA: Pitch, Pace and Attitude. This is more productive than focusing on sales and what can’t be controlled (territory, weather, the customer etc.).
      • Yes Yes Questions. Ask questions that the customer will respond positively to so that they are more likely to agree.
      • SW3: Some will, some won’t, so what. This is a reminder to be indifferent to negatives and to simply move on to the next door.
      • Buzzwords such as ‘free’ catch the customer’s attention.
      • Icebreakers. Flirt, banter, compliment and make jokes.
      • Don’t leave Dead Air Space, awkward silences where the customer may start to waver. Keep up the small talk.
      • FRs in an Energy campaign use the Gasman theory to assume authority over the customer, taking advantage of how customers let the gasman into their house. They employ ID badges, high visibility jackets and claim they are ‘just collecting data’.

Terminology and Chants

      • JUICE: Join Us In Creating Excitement. This is the signature slogan for DS-Max that puts focus on a positive attitude.[7] If someone asks ‘Juice?’ everyone replies ‘Juice!’. Juice by you = congratulations. Juice by that = well done.
      • ‘Hey Guys?’ shouts someone. ‘Hey What?’ everyone responses. This is to grab everyone’s attention.
      • High Roller. Someone who has consistently achieved many sales.
      • Toast/Died. Refers to someone who has quit or ‘been sacked’.
      • COWS. Someone who ‘Can’t Operate Without (a) Spouse’.
      • Negged. Someone who has lost their positive attitude.
      • Bunny Hopping. A pair work together on the same street, knocking on alternate houses.
      • 9 to 5 schmuck. Someone with a 9 to 5 job.
      • REHASH stands for: ‘Remember Everyone Has (a) Sale Hidden’.
      • On the Bell/Bell Ringer. When a FR has made enough sales to ring the bell at the end of the day.
      • Ride Out When a member of one crew would follow another crew for the day.

FOOTNOTES

  1. See footnote number 16, on the Background page, for details about the Security Bond.  ↩
  2. Figure obtained from he_who_laughs_last comment on this article. ↩
  3. “Only 10% of offices are successful” statistic deprived from “somewhere around 9,000 Cobra offices have been started up around the world, but only about 800-­900 are still operating”.  ↩
  4. Obtained from wolfram.org  ↩
  5. Obtained from wolfram.org  ↩
  6. This technique is deprived from “Keeping up with the Joneses” idiom.  ↩
  7. JUICE actually originated from when DS-Max was still named Wholesale Warehousing Industries of Canada (WWI). If you look at the comments on the photos, in the WWI Canada Facebook group, people frequently use the term JUICE. 

DISCLAIMER. It page is based on my personal experience and information obtained from my References.

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6 thoughts on “Practices

  1. Alex says:

    Thank the LORD I did research before accepting the interview! I received an email asking ME to call and contact their HR team! Stupidly enough, I did, but it was the wrong thing to do. I called back within two hours of research and cancelled my appointment. They wanted to see me in less than 24 hours! I couldn’t do that to myself. And even if the position I was applying for (“Entry-level Junior Executive”….executive to what?) wasn’t the door-to-door sales, I couldn’t work for a company that had clearly mistreated other employees like that. No WAY. This blog needs to be all over the internet.

  2. EyesWideOpen says:

    Toast in our office was Hit by a Bus, Throwing myself under the bus was the best thing I ever did. My little bitch of a manager wanted me back for weeks, until I exposed his shit on facebook. Also, my team leader said I’d do 80% of what he did right, and 100% of what he did wrong. After he started sleeping with one of his leaders, and one of my distributors, he was shocked when I started seeing my first leader (Now happily engaged). Not to be one to disappoint.

  3. Pingback: My Week at Devilcorp | Inverted Grape

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