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Talking your way into a new career

Holly Perreault used to pull her hair into a ponytail, wash her face and go in the morning.

Holly Perreault used to pull her hair into a ponytail, wash her face and go in the morning.

Now, the 42-year-old from Windsor, Ont., always dons a smart outfit and a little makeup. That’s because she feels great about herself and her job. But also, as a full-time Avon salesperson, it doesn’t hurt to use the products you sell.

Three years ago, she was doing something completely different. She ran a home daycare and kept busy with that and her three daughters, the youngest of which is now six.

A girlfriend who sold Avon suggested Perreault give it a try. Perreault agreed — eager to get some free stuff and make a little cash.

In that first year, she did well selling to family and friends and made it into the company’s President’s Club. After the awards banquet, her manager took her out for lunch.

“What do you want to do with this?” she asked. Knowing her youngest was about to enter grade one, and loving both the products and the endless chance to interact with people, Perreault had her answer.

She cleared two days each week to go out and train with her manager.

Last September, she shut down her home daycare and got to work recruiting both customers and Avon salespeople to work under her. Today, she has a team of a hundred salespeople, a good-sized roster of clients who order from Avon regularly and has been promoted to executive unit leader.

“A typical day for me is talking, and talking,” Perreault says. She often meets with team members to discuss business strategies, and she and other representatives attend frequent training sessions and workshops held by Avon. They also go door to door.

And while she’s out doing everything from shopping at the mall to attending one of her daughter’s soccer games, she’s constantly talking to people.

“My goal every time I go out is to find a new customer or to find a new rep that would like to join Avon.”

At first, it was tough for her to ring doorbells and talk to strangers all the time. But practice, her love of people, and her psychology degree all helped. As does the business skills she learned managing restaurants, which she did before her eldest daughter, now 15, was born.

In fact, most of her past experience has led up this job, she sees in retrospect.

“I never in a million years imaged when I started out and sold a few mascaras that it would become my full time career.”

 
 
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