Monday, March 3, 2014

Falling Slowly - To Sleep

Until recently I was a phone salesperson. I spent 40 hours per week calling people and selling them things. Some of the things I sold actually existed. The other things that I sold were fictitious in nature.  I sold one guy a hat that had fans on the inside to keep him cool during summer. I told him it works with all hair colors and styles as long as he's bald. And thankfully he was.

The moments leading up to a great sale can be the real killer in phone sales, though. That's because I've just talked to a receptionist (I did business-to-business sales) and now I'm waiting for the decision maker to come on the phone. Cue hold music.

Hold music was invented by Satan with the aim of keeping someone calm while waiting for his/her call to be answered. In reality it is aggravating and disturbing. It puts on a ruse of being sweet and soft. On the surface, it slows down the mind of the listener to enhance patience; kind of like the music in a department store. It's always slow music jazzed up enough to be interesting, but not fast enough to make the customers race out of the store. But if you're calling people for a living, it just makes the day drag on and on. There's no productivity while on hold. I have heard some wonderful hold music, though.

Actually no, that was a lie. I have never heard good hold music, and I doubt you have either.

Sometimes the hold music is a radio station. Ok, that has potential of being interesting as long as they pick the right station, which never happens. I did hear the news while on hold once, but just before they released the names of the victims, the guy answered.

"AH! What are you doing?! I was just about to find out who got hacked to pieces!"
"I'm sorry? Who is this?"

But since that's not technically music, I can't really complain about it. And just so you know, that was not the phone call in which I sold the fan hat.

Another time, the hold music was the song "Falling Slowly" from the Once soundtrack. Beautiful song, right? Gotta love Glen and Marketa. But hark! what's this? Neither the Irishman or the Czech girl were singing sweetly in my ear, but two country stars twanging their way through the song like an elephant stampeding through a quiet meadow. It made my skin crawl. I was nearly in tears by the end. I listened to the entire song mostly because I was following up on a hot lead. I thought, "The gods couldn't possibly let me miss the sale now. Look at my patience! Look at my resilience! They will reward me with great treasures by the time I hang up!"

But no. The song ended and the decision maker got on the phone with a quick, "Yeah, we're not interested." I may have screamed a little bit.

Then there's the smooth jazz. I'm not really sure what to say about smooth jazz other than it's confusing. If we're going to listen to Jazz, I want a swing beat or a ballad. Instead I get an awkward mix that leaves me feeling uncomfortable like I ate warm mayo. The person picks up the phone and says, "Hi?"
"Yeah," I respond. "Maybe that's what's wrong."

There is also the infomercial hold music. There's a little song and dance, and then someone starts talking about the interesting facts on the business I'm calling. I've learned quite a bit of fun facts on some nursing homes this way. There was one home that had treated more colostomy patients than any other nursing home in the nation.

Fun facts are rarely fun.

If you do need to call a business and they put you on hold, try to remember this: You have the power to hang up. Unless you're calling to sell them a fake hat.

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