Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Passive Sales..

Since the beginning of November, I always see these World Vision booths on my way to work. They are situated at places that people just cannot avoid - right at the bottom of the escalator, the only pathway between the food court and the other building, etc. I think they are doing the whole sponsor-a-child thing. In any case, I thought they would be really pushy. They are always standing quite far away from the booth, holding their clipboards, and with that look of desperation on their face.

I'm no stranger to these 'booth salespeople'. In fact, I used to be one of them. So naturally, I know how to avoid being approached and put on the spot. "Hi, would you like to sponsor a child in a third-world country?" Who could refuse such a face on the little picture card they show you, and then they move in for the kill. "For only less than the price of a cup of coffee per day, you can feed and shelter this lovely child. You could surely give up a cup of coffee a day, right, sir?" Then you're totally suckered in.

Now I have to make myself clear on this part. I am in no way unsupportive of what they are doing. On the contrary, I really appreciate them trying to persuade people to sponsor and give back to the global community. We should be grateful for what we have, and that we never have to worry about not having water or food. However, giving money has always been a skeptical issue for me, since I can never be sure where that money is going. Besides, I'm a starving student after all. I don't mind volunteering and raising money though.

In any case, day after day I walk by these booths. I walk by them at least 4 or 5 times a day (going to get coffee, lunch, afternoon tea time, etc.). Not once have I seen them approach anybody and talk to them. I have heard some weak "Would you like to sponsor a child?" going towards people that walk closer to the booth, but they have never walked towards anybody to even attempt to talk to them. All they have been doing is standing there patiently, as if they are waiting for people to walk towards them.

They are, by far, the most passive sales I have ever seen. Ironically, I think it's working. Now that I walk by them, I feel a little shameful for not even talking to them. They look so desperate! All these little cards with the child's picture lined up on the booth, and the two people sit there from at least 7:30am (when I get to work) to at least 8:00pm (when I left work one day). I am starting to feel that perhaps it's not so bad to talk to them (knowingly to get suckered in).

Anyhow, the whole point of my convoluted entry is that I am starting to feel really bad about walking past them each day without even giving them an acknowledgement. A smile, a nod, or even just a glance. Heck I do that to people who serve me coffee! (but I do visit them a whole lot) Maybe that's their tactic - guilt. Maybe that's why they are so passive. Mmm..

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