Telemarketing: The Bottom Rung

In the fall of 1996, while between theatre directing gigs, I was employed by a telemarketing call centre in Toronto to sell long distance phone packages to small businesses over the phone. During my eight month tour of duty I was indoctrinated into the high pressure world of telephone sales and the fight for survival in that wild and woolly call centre. It was an opportunity to meet and study the people who worked in those ridiculously stressful jobs which I equated with a military unit. The pressure was intense. You had to make 150 to 200 cold calls per day. You had to get at least three sales a day, five days a week, for a total of 15 sales a week to get your commission. If you fell short, if you got 14 sales, you didn’t get your commission. It was all or nothing. In order to hit your 15 sales there was pressure to slam (con a customer by switching their telephone service without their knowledge or authorization).

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