Summer sales makes perfect job for returned missionaries

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Sales companies across Utah rely heavily on returned missionaries for door-to-door programs considering their experience. Photo by Chris Bunker

Pest control. Security systems. Cleaning products. Lawn care. Scripture videos — recruiting sales companies have unnumbered positions to be filled.

For companies like Vivint and Living Scriptures, BYU is a garden for harvesting summer salespeople.

Ninety-five percent of Living Scriptures’ sales team is comprised of BYU students, according to sales executive Shane Wiser. The company sells scripture videos primarily to members of the Church and works off referrals. Wiser said the skills students learn on their missions prepare them for the summer stint. That is why the company recruits at all universities in Utah as well as some in Idaho.

“Returned missionaries have already learned how to face rejection,” he said. “With sales you are having to learn how to talk with people, overcome objections and help people get a feel for what our product is like.”

Chris Keeler, a UVU student, sold ADT security on the East Coast after returning from a mission in Kennewick, Wash. Aside from already being comfortable knocking doors, Keeler said knowing a second language helped him as well. “I was able to get in (doors) quicker because of Spanish,” he said.

These sorts of skills might make the task easier for returned missionaries, but as with any job, there are potential negatives.

One of the goals of Living Scriptures is to have salespeople earn enough during the summer so they are not required to work during the school year. This gives them more time to focus on other priorities. This is why Living Scriptures salespeople are asked to work 60 hours a week.

Vivint is one of the five fastest-growing companies in Utah, according to “Utah Business Magazine.” The security company was launched by Todd Pedersen, a BYU returned missionary. Presidential candidate Mitt Romney supported Vivint even before its name change from APX. At the cutting ceremony for the company’s new headquarters in 2009, Romney said, “This is the kind of stimulus that makes the country great,” according to a Deseret News article.

Yet, a recent article run this month by National Journal discussed dishonest tactics used by some Vivint employees to increase their sales numbers. Some examples include lying to people about prices and installing systems without signed approval of customers. People backsided by the company in such cases have even filed complaints with their state attorney general.

When asked about dishonesty in ADT salespeople, Chris Keeler said it did happen, but when employees were caught, they were fired. “But there are a lot of workers that are still dishonest and were able to keep that a secret and were able to get the sale,” he said.

Likewise, Living Scriptures has no tolerance for dishonest sales people.

“If we have people that are not being straight, they are not going to succeed with us,” Wiser said.

Seth Weiler, an elementary education major, sold Living Scriptures products in Utah this past summer.

One of the things the Georgia native found disappointing about the job was not making as much as he hoped.

“In every sales job you are never guaranteed money,” he said. “You could work a 60-hour week and not make a penny.”

Weiler mentioned that missionaries and salespeople are two of the most disliked people in the world; they share many commonalities as a result.

“I think even in sales, just like missionary work, you have to love the people you’re working for,” he said.

Overcoming disappointment was another link that, once figured out in the mission, can carry one through hours of knocking doors with no success.

“I don’t think anyone gets into sales because they love it; I think most people go into it for the money,” he said. “A summer of sales would be good for anyone just because of the experience.”

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