All right, time to reveal an embarrassing secret: I sometimes watch QVC.
Something about the lights, salesmanship and energy draws me in.
If you’ve ever found yourself nodding while some lady says you NEED this wrinkle-removing skin cream — when you don’t even have wrinkles — you know what I’m talking about.
Inevitably, one question arises while I’m watching: Who are these people hawking the items? How did they get there?
So I was excited to read Mark Wilson’s recent feature for Fast Company: I Went on Air at QVC and Sold Something to America.
The article didn’t disappoint. If you’re looking for a funny and fascinating read, I’d recommend reading it in full.
For the rest of you, here’s a brief rundown of his unique experience…
What Happened When a Random Guy Went on QVC
If you’re wondering if QVC is even a thing anymore, it is.
“The network now does $8.8 billion in worldwide sales a year,” Wilson reports, and thanks to e-commerce, “has become the fifth largest mobile retailer in the world.”
Guess I’m not the only one lured by the brilliant smiles and promises of life-changing beauty products.
So who’s behind those brilliant smiles?
First off, it’s important to distinguish between “hosts” and “experts.”
QVC employs 27 hosts, who usually come from modeling or acting backgrounds. They don’t go it alone, though; on each segment, a host is paired with an expert.
“It might be the product’s inventor, a paid spokesperson, or even a celebrity like Rachel Ray or the late Joan Rivers,” Wilson writes.
“And every product expert — even the celebrities and supermodels, I’m told — has to go through QVC’s one-day TV bootcamp to be certified to go on-air.”
Somehow, Wilson convinced QVC to let him attend the bootcamp, he writes, with one stipulation: “If I passed, I got to really sell something that night on air.”
He learned what to do: “One’s nails must be manicured; print shirts weren’t to be worn. Blue, green, pink, and plum solids were the only approved colors.”
And what not to do: “If you go up there with the intent to sell, it’s all going to come crashing down around you.”
Though he had a rough start, he passed the class, and got the opportunity to sell a (somewhat shoddy) combination cell phone charger and wallet on national television.
How’d he do?
Your Turn: Have you ever dreamed of being on QVC?
Susan Shain, senior writer for The Penny Hoarder, is always seeking adventure on a budget. Visit her blog at susanshain.com, or say hi on Twitter @susan_shain.