Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Smile And Dial!

I spent the month of May and the first two weeks of June 1987 hanging out in Montreal and taking one summer-school finance class at McGill.

The finance class didn't take up that much time so I took a part-time job at the Montreal Gazette selling subscriptions over the phone. I knew going in that it would be an absolutely brutal job. However, I was only planning to do it for four weeks and I figured that learning to cold call people might be a handy skill to have later in life.

As I expected, the job was agonizing. I thought that the Montreal Gazette might provide some sort of training. It didn't. When we arrived in the morning, a scrawny assistant manager with feathered hair and a cheesy, wispy little moustache would hand us a list of names and telephone numbers. Once we were seated, the manager, a grossly overweight bald guy in his early forties, would stand among the bank of phones to report on the prior day's results. Of course, they were never good enough. After beating us down, the manager would offer us some words of encouragement. He'd end each speech the same way--bellowing: "SMILE AND DIAL!"

Although I detested the job, I was right about the experience teaching me not to fear the phone. Any time I find myself hesitating to call a prospective client, I just think of the fat manager at the Montreal Gazette, laugh a little and then yell: "SMILE AND DIAL!" It works every time.

No comments: