Comcast enlists its customers to sell cable

September 19, 1990|By Cindy Harper-Evans

Next time you get a bill in the mail, check it for an employment opportunity.

Comcast Cablevision of Maryland solicited its Baltimore County customers in their last cable bill to go door-to-door selling basic and premium programming packages to the 100,000 county households that don't have cable already.

The rationale is simple, says Stephen Burch, Comcast's area vice president and general manager, who put himself through law school selling cable in Washington state and thought up the customer recruiting plan.

"We think our customers will be our best tool for selling since they have the product and they like it," he said.

Another reason for selecting customers for direct sales is that Comcast is committed to the sales drive for only a little more than a month. Also, asking regular employees to do direct sales door-to-door would require paying them overtime, Mr. Burch said.

About 30 Comcast subscribers gathered in Timonium's Holiday Inn Monday for the last of three orientation meetings, which Mr. Burch said have brought roughly 100 door-to-door salespeople into the Comcast fold.

Last night, the latest batch had a 2 1/2 -hour training period at the headquarters on York Road, where they learned sales tips, product line and prices and how to get in the door.

"Hi, I'm a Comcast customer and I love cable and I've got a great deal for you," was one way suggested by Robin Lee, coordinator of Comcast's direct marketing sales effort.

The new employees will be paid$25 for attending the training session and then $15 per sale for up to four sales a week; $20 a sale for 5 to 10 sales a week; and $25 a sale for 11 or more sales a week.

The orientation meeting Monday brought several job-seekers who already worked in sales in other industries and had decided to moonlight for extra bucks.

"I'm hoping I don't see any of my clients or customers here," said one anonymous real estate agent. "If I do, I'm going to slink down in my seat."

Comcast is hoping that using customers door-to-door will add up to 1,000 subscribers to the Baltimore County market, which it said is 60 percent saturated. The company says it has a 15 percent to 20 percent success rate with door-to-door selling, compared with a 1 percent to 3 percent success rate in direct mailings.

"People are less likely to slam a door in your face than to throw away a letter," Ms. Lee said.

Comcast has roughly 153,000 subscribers in the county.

The sale positions will last until Halloween, but Comcast said it may take some people on full- or part-time.

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