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Soft-selling at the Mall

How we perceive the world.

Today I'm a living poster. A mascot for capitalism. I am - the passive sell.

For 7 hours I sit at a desk in the middle of an air-conditioned shopping mall. 6 days per week. An array of pamphlets. A nervous smile. It's 2:30 in the afternoon and I've barely exchanged glances with anyone, let alone produced a lead.

I'm helping a mob called Climate Roof Restorations (www.climateroofrestorations.com.au). The idea is simple. I sit here, in the middle of this fairly obscure suburban shopping mall in the Northern Suburbs of Perth (I didn't know there was a North)  doing whatever it is I want to do - on my iPad (that's mostly doing SEO and setting up websites for clients). Should anyone come up to me, I am to engage them in conversation, takes notes and email the lead to HQ.

It costs $800+ to hire this spot for a week. A bit under $800 for me, plus a commission of $XXX for each successful lead. After paying about $700 per month last year for a shared office in the CBD, this is a better deal by far. I literally get paid twice for my time because I work on computers.

I'm surrounded by pamphlets, a Teflon coated tile and tomorrow (because I forgot to pick them up today) a smart pull-up marquee and a promotional video stuck on repeat.

Does Passive Selling Work? 

There are no tracking cookies so Google isn't pushing highly targeted, insidious ads based on your previous (non-incognito) searches. This is old-school. Punter to sales person. Face-to-face battles. Me. At a desk. In a mall. You. An innocent enquiry about roof issues.

Opposite my fold-up desk is a pop-up bric-a-brac shop called "Craft Friends". Two grey-haired older ladies sit on collapsible chairs. I have something similar. Making me fat. I say fat because I have to get back to the gym. Justify that $80/mo. Most of my work is done while sitting.

Passers-by are mostly female. Guys who come in here are either young tradies on a break or retired old gents with hearing aides. One guy came over to ramble on and on about something. After about 5 minutes, it was clear he hadn't heard my side of the conversation. I then spotted 2 hearing aides. I got the feeling he never switched them on. But it's mostly women : 80/20.

To my right is The Colombian Cafe. Don't be fooled by the name. Unless most of the world's carbohydrates come from Columbia. They put out a Half-price Hot Food sign (not chips the fine print reads) every day at 2:30pm. I had fried rice in a plastic tray for lunch. I think I'll bring sandwiches next week.

An Exercise in Humility?


When I was offered this job, I baulked at the idea. Why should I do this when so many people are head-hunting me for SEO and content marketing services? (*mild sarcasm*). Who wants to sit in a mall for 7 hours per day, 6 days per week? Yes. Six days.

Well. I paid $700 per month last year for office space. It was nice space. Nice views of the hills. The river, the city. I got no leads. In a whole year. Not one. Because I couldn't do anything but focus on my own website, I got a lot of work by doing SEO on my own site. Mostly from Queensland. Not a peep from the tight Perth locals.

When push comes to shove, the glass office CBD experience was exactly the same as this one. This time, the office rent is pre-paid and I get a retainer for sitting. One to three commissions per week if I'm lucky. Plus I get paid for all the web work I do on the computer. Which is picking up. And there's nothing else to do here but work on the computer. That's why it's the same as sitting on Level 24 of Allendale Square..

Third Time Lucky


I was asked to do this three times.

Saying no the third time seemed out of character. As I grow older, I find it harder and harder to blieve in the Cornucopian Universe. Dishing out Good Will to any (usually) white person open enough to ask for it. But something came over me. Would saying No a third time be like saying no to the universe?
  • Want a wage boost? 
  • Need a little structure? 
  • Like people?
Let's hope some of these middle-aged people need roof restoration.

Just do it, right Nike?


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