Slightly Off-Topic

Would you kill for a sale?

By DOM Team| 6 Min Read | December 11, 2007

I love being a strange foreign man in a strange foreign land. As you may have gathered by now, I have a beautiful excuse to hide behind anytime I wish to flirt with something remotely controversial. All I have to do is play my ‘get out of jail free card’ – the fact that I’m British and I’ve seen things operate differently.


And today I’m going to have to play a full house of them as I’m going to mention Michael Moore, socialized medicine and dubious sales and marketing. I might even mention Hillary Clinton, Fidel Castro and quote bits from The Communist Manifesto. ONLY JOKING. I don’t want anybody to literally be choking on their Cheerios just in case it’s not covered in your health care plan.

I’d hate to be responsible for hospitalizing/bankrupting anybody due to careless blogging. And I fully realize I’m living in the lawsuit state – West Virginia. Although, on a side note, I have been diagnosed with a blogging related medical condition before now (seriously, I have no dignity).

Last night I stayed up way past my bedtime so I could watch Michael Moore’s SiCKO – just so I could waffle inanely about it in a blog post. In some respects, it’s a bit like preaching to the converted with me being from the UK (GOOJFC #1). Michael Moore does the same with this film as he does in all his others – make a very strong core argument but then spoil it with bits of propaganda that can be more easily shot to bits than a static clay pigeon from six inches. The current health care system in America with insurance firms in league with big pharmaceuticals lobbying government to further their spurious agenda is flawed at best and downright evil at worst. However, if you think you couldn’t make another SiCKO about the NHS in Britain (postcode lottery anyone), or ask exactly what went on during the heatwave of 2003 in France when nearly 15,000 elderly people died as most health practitioners had gone on their holidays during August, you’d be sadly mistaken.

But, while many people will tell you there are a host of problems with the NHS, the problems stem from it being steered away from its founding principals. These same principals of health care being free for all underpin socialized medicine across the globe. Once you tie in either the ability to pay or funding allocations you’ve got a very different system. And once you’ve got a system that allocates as much, if not more, time working out and rewarding non-treatment, then you’ve got a grand scam.

I was first awoken to this particular scam when I decided to apply to train to be a health insurance salesman for American Life when I was too young to know much better (personal GOOJFC). I was initially drawn to the idea of a couple of weeks holed up in a hotel and being paid for the privilege. It didn’t take me too long to realize I’d joined a sales cult. Every morning you were expected to sing Zip Pe De Doo Dah as they claimed it was their company anthem or something. By the end of week two, I was belting it out. It was all scripted sales techniques and games to sharpen up the old mind tank. Oh, and I think we learned one or two things about their respective policies. This was hardcore sales from the “selling coals to Newcastle” school of the utterly absurd in the context of selling health insurance in a country that had universal health care.

They obviously brainwashed me reasonably well as I’d overcome my initial skepticism and was raring to go and change the way Britain handled its health care. Three days of having my handheld by my immediate regional superior and watching a maestro cold call and up-sell and I was left to my own devices. During my next couple of days, I had the opportunity to collect premiums from existing punters, cold call and check up on others.

And then I went to see one particular guy who had bought every conceivable policy and add-on that American Life offered. I was ushered in and offered a seat as I cheerily asked him how things were. Before my backside hit the velour, I was fronted by a clearly broken man. He proceeded to explain to me how he had cancer and that American Life was refusing to pay out on any of his policies. He was a fairly wealthy local businessman and was perfectly confident that he was more than adequately covered. That is until he actually became ill.

I sat there for a good hour or so listening to a guy who’d been ceremoniously shafted. The amazing thing was that he wasn’t as angry or bitter as you might have expected. It was just that you could tell he wasn’t prepared to be ripped off on his deathbed. I’d long since forgotten about selling insurance and saw myself as a potential conduit to help sort out this guy’s policy. He shook my hand as I left appreciative that I’d listened to him as much as anything. I was fairly adamant that I was going to set some wheels in motion. I had no idea what to do other than to mention it to my immediate regional superior when I met him later that afternoon.

And when we did meet up he asked me about my day and I went straight into the cancer guy tale. He listened without really listening as he flicked through some papers and then cut me off once he’d heard enough. He fixed me with a gaze and insisted that it was just negative crap and that I’d be far better off clearing it from my mind. He proclaimed it had nothing to do with us and if I ever encountered anything along those lines again I should not waste my time and walk out.

Two days later I quit. I not only quit the job but I also quit on any notion of ever again using those types of sales tactics. Not only did I quit on those types of sales tactics, but I vowed never to work for a company that employed those types of tactics.

You see, I’ve never felt earning a dollar was worth the expense of upsetting anybody. No sales or marketing tactic is. In fact, I don’t really believe in the sales and marketing ‘tactics’ period. That’s why I’m so comfortable with search engine marketing. It’s simply a case of you providing the information that somebody is looking for and making sure they find it.

A bit like universal health care, no?

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