The salesmen are mostly former Mormon missionaries from Utah who cut their teeth — and learned their people-skill chops — cold-calling for their faith. In Chicago and in its suburbs where their employer, Pinnacle Security of Orem, Utah, has shipped them for the summer sales season, they are doing much the same thing, but as a job.
“It’s missionary work turned into a business,” said Cameron Treu, 30, who served his mission in Chile and was recruited into D2D (that is door-to-door in sales lingo) by another former missionary.
Managers at Pinnacle Security, founded in 2001 by a student at Brigham Young University, the Mormon Church-owned school, say missionaries simply have the right stuff. Many speak foreign languages learned in the mission field. All have thick skins from dealing with the negative responses that a missionary armed with a Book of Mormon and a smile can receive.
Mormon men are expected to serve a two-year mission in their early 20s, and about two-thirds of Pinnacle Security’s 1,800 sales representatives this summer have been through the experience. Former missionaries work for other direct-sales companies, too, though Pinnacle seems to be in a class by itself: It has deployed them in 75 cities nationwide.
“They’re used to knocking on doors, and they’re used to rejection,” said Scott Warner, Pinnacle’s manager of the Chicago sales team.
Business is only part of the chemistry though. In a free-market economy, every sale or purchase is on some level an act of conversion, a matter of overcoming objections or hesitancy and getting to “yes.” Decision making and trust are never entirely matters of pure logic.
Pinnacle’s salesmen are also applying skills learned in the mission field, like “mimic and mirror,” a technique of adapting one’s posture and bearing to the person being spoken to as a way of inducing trust — if his arms are crossed, you cross yours; if she tilts her head in asking a question, you do the same.
I can just hear Weber saying, "I told you so."