BEWARE OF THE “BOILER ROOM VETERANS”

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When staffing for a Theatre or Arts subscription / fundraising campaign, be wary of “boiler room veterans”. They’ve often been weaned in a culture that views the job as simply a “numbers game”. (While it is, in part, a “numbers game” to that’s only a small piece of the puzzle.)

In 30 years of business, I learned that this person is not likely to thrive in a cohesive, productive, environment. It’s not because he’s incapable, but his skills were honed in a different culture, which is seldom cohesive, and more of an “Every man for himself” environment.

Often they’ve been treated as “numbers” themselves, in places that experience a  high staff turnover due to a “baptism by fire” excuse for training.  They invariably adapt by cutting corners and leaving out relevant information. Although initially it may be from a lack of knowledge, it often becomes their modus operandi in order to close a sale. It’s pretty sneaky and you’ll find yourself having to constantly monitor their work.

Once he discovers that his attitudes and practices may tend to make him a social Pereira amongst his co-workers, he’ll likely prefer to leave rather than adjust, telling himself the other agents are too “green” to appreciate his approach.

There’s also a high incidence of substance abusers in this bunch. It’s one of those, “Which came first? The chicken or the egg?” situations.

Perhaps they seek out this profession because it appears conducive to an alcoholic lifestyle (You never take your work home with you.) Or the abuse develops over years of underachieving. Either way, that’s never a good thing because more often than not it leads to desperate behavior.

On rare occasions, you may find an agent who is a “lifer”,  is consistently diligent and successful. This is a rare bird.
I had a woman who worked on our theatre campaigns for 22 years until her retirement. She had gotten her GED while working for me and was completely unlike any of the other agents. But she was a star. The box office loved her, the marketing directors always requested her and she got along with everyone.

(This is an excerpt from a book I’m writing based on my 30 years as a entrepreneur in Telemarketing for the Arts.)

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