Everything I know about sales I learned at a strip club
I worked as a stripper at a few clubs for about a year and a half in the early 2000s. This wasn’t a new occupation for me. I had been working on and off as a stripper since my senior year of high school, but not at the clubs, for a service. I was the girl you ordered for bachelor parties, retirement parties, strip o’ grams, or just to have a naked woman dancing around in your living room for no reason. It was somewhat easy money if I discounted the pervs who wanted me to do strange things with my body and beer bottles and the danger that was involved with going to strangers’ homes in the middle of the night. Club dancing was safer by far, however, it was completely different from dancing for the services, which I quickly realized.
First of all, at the clubs where I worked, dancers were required to work shifts, either the day shift or the evening shift. Both shifts were eight hours. In contrast, a bachelor party was one hour, and a strip o’ gram was a mere fifteen minutes. So for the eighteen months I worked at the clubs, I had to accustom myself to being locked in a smoke-filled vacancy for eight hours. Second, making money at the clubs was not guaranteed. The dancers had to pay to work there, $25 per weekday evening and $50 per weekend evening. “Stage fee” is what they called it, and I still have no idea what that meant nor why we had to pay to work. Working for the services was guaranteed money. Guys who hired me for an hour-long bachelor party had to pay me for that hour as soon as I arrived, which was a cool hundred dollars back in 1991. Tips were extra and optional, but I never did a bachelor party where the guys didn’t tip, and I had a whole tip-gathering repertoire which garnered me heaps of cash (but that’s a whole different article).
Another difference between the two - dancers at strip clubs are required to dance on stages, and contrary to what the movies portray, stage time does not warrant hundreds of dollars being heaved at us. Sometimes, depending on the night, I could go a whole shift without getting tipped on stage. The only way to make money at a strip club is by selling private dances, and when I first started, I had no idea it was going to pose such a challenge. There is a learning curve, just like in all new sales jobs, and thanks to one of the other dancers who generously gave me some very valuable advice, I learned how to sell dances and soon became one of the top-grossing dancers at the club.
Sales is sales. It doesn’t matter if you are selling cars, timeshares, or your tits and ass. You must know how to do it well if you want to make money. It took a few months at the club to get my technique down to a science, but it worked, and this is what I learned.
- Know your clientele: You have to know who you are selling to and if they want your product. At strip clubs, different breeds of men come in, and not all buy dances. It was easier to spot the men who would most likely not want to buy dances than the ones who would, therefore saving me from wasting any time trying to sell to them. Of the many types of men that patronized the clubs, these were the top three non-buyers who I could easily spot and steer clear of:
- The guy who flaunted his money: This guy would sit at a table with an enormous stack of cash next to his drink. Dancers would flock to him hoping to get some of it, but he rarely, if ever, bought dances, nor shared his wealth, and let’s be honest, that stack of green was mostly singles. It was a power play. His MO was to show the other men at the bar that he could get a gaggle of dancers to hang out at his table all night long, sit on his lap, and drink and talk with him. This guy would spend hundreds of dollars buying drinks for the dancers and plying them with alcohol, probably in the fantastical hopes of taking one of them home. However, that’s all he would do with his money. Drinks. That’s it. He would never go to the stage and tip the dancers, nor would he tip the girls who stupidly set up camp at his table. This guy was a total waste of time, was only there for bravado, and contrary to what many guys believe, strippers don't want to go home with you. Ever.
- The guy who spent the entire night bellied up to the bar: These guys for some reason had no interest in private dances. They also rarely tipped the girls on stage. I had a certain sales technique that required me to sit on patrons' laps and whisper dirty things into their ears. I couldn’t get close enough to guys who were standing or sitting on a barstool to employ my technique. They used the bar as a barrier or safety as to not let the dancers get close enough to talk to them. They passed their evening buying overpriced drinks, talking to the bartender, and watching the girls from afar for free. Pass.
- The creepy guy all alone in the corner — This dude needs little explanation. He also rarely went to the stages to tip and would sit at a table in the corner all night nursing his overpriced watered-down drinks leering at the girls for hours, also for free, never buying dances, never engaging in conversation with anyone. Not only was this type of patron one to avoid, but was also very sad and pathetic. What went wrong in this man's life to spend myriad hours alone at a dark, dank strip club?
2. Don’t sell the product, sell the experience: One of the first lessons I learned from my stripper mentor was to never, no matter the circumstance ask, “do you want to buy a dance?” She told me to never even say the words “private dance” when speaking to a patron. Guys at a strip club are there for a fantasy, a getaway, a reprieve from their normal, stressful lives of providing for their wives and children. Asking, “Do you want a private dance?” just puts more pressure on them to spend more money and provide for someone else, the dancer. But if the dancer describes a fantasy and how she can make the patron feel during this fantasy, what she can do to and for him in the little red booth and never make it sound like she’s selling something, mention money, or say the word “private dance,” he’s more apt to go along with it even though he knows exactly what the dancer is doing. Guys that go to strip clubs are quite privy to how dancers make money. My particular sales technique involved me straddling the guy’s lap and telling, not asking him, that I wanted to get naked for him, get his cock hard, rub my tits all over his face, and make him cum. That sounded a lot more appealing than asking, “Hey, you want a private dance?” Boring. My technique didn’t work every time. No sales technique does. But it sure worked often. Men are visual. Describing what they will see, me laying down in front of them spread eagle, for example, will paralyze them with excitement and give them very little restraint not to follow me back to the private dance room.
3. Know When to Walk Away: Deny me once, shame on you. Deny me twice, shame on me. No one likes a pushy salesperson. Desperation is the worst cologne, and many dancers with whom I worked wore it. I would ask the same guy twice. That’s it. If he denied me on the second attempt, then I would know to move on and leave him be. Sometimes, if he said, “maybe later,” he meant it, and after a few drinks, he would be relaxed enough to give into my fantasy sales pitch and follow me back to the private dance room. But if he said maybe later a second time, I moved on. It sometimes took a few drinks for the patron to decompress from whatever he had been doing during the day, therefore, waiting was paramount, which leads me to…
4. Patience: Patience is a must in sales. People are skeptical and put off by salespeople by nature, even if that salesperson is wearing six-inch heels and half of her ass is showing. I would watch from afar as myriad dancers approached a patron, undoubtedly asking, “Do you want to buy a dance?” and get turned away. They had no patience. When I felt the time was right and the patron was alone, looked sufficiently relaxed, and had drunk a minimum of one drink, that’s when I would saunter over and make him feel like a king. Sure, some of the other dancers had bigger breasts, longer legs, or sexier outfits, but I had the patience and the wherewithal to close a deal.
Sales experts claim that listening to your client and building personal relationships is paramount, and I agree with this when time is not of the essence. I was at the club for eight hours a night and during that time I had to sell as many dances as I could. I didn’t have time to sit and listen to the banal drivel of drunk patrons. Many dancers used this technique; sitting and talking and listening to patrons, and sometimes patrons would end up buying dances after enough conversation had transpired. Some dancers had “regulars” with whom they would spend the entire evening. These patrons had to buy the dancer off the list, which meant that they would pay the DJ to remove the dancer from the stage rotation, and the dancer would also get a healthy cut of this fee. These dancers didn’t have to do anything except sit with their regular, drink cocktails, give him some dances here and there, and walk away with handsome earnings at the end of the shift. This is all well and good, and it worked for these dancers. However, I had no desire to sit and listen to one guy drunkenly spill his secrets, problems, and regrets night after night, hour after hour. It would have exhausted me mentally and emotionally, not to mention the work it took to gain regulars in the first place, which initially involves lots and lots of listening and talking, at no charge — “cold calling” if you will. My stripper mentor told me the night she spilled her trade secrets never to spend over two minutes with a prospective buyer. Any more than that was a waste of time and money. Patience provides strength in negotiation. Gathering intel provides strength in patience.
5. Be a team player: Strip clubs are ruthless, cutthroat, every woman for herself places, however, some “teamwork” is required. Being a team player as a stripper essentially means following the unspoken stripper rules and club etiquette as to not get beat up in the parking lot or be the guest of honor at a blanket party in the locker room. Some of these rules were:
- If while on stage, you make a private dance sale, leave two dollars on the stage for the next dancer as a courtesy for taking one of the stage patrons away.
- Never, and I mean never, try to take a dancer’s regular nor offer him private dances if she is working the same shift as you.
- Be on time to the stage. No stage was to be left unoccupied, so if the next dancer in the rotation was late, that was time and money the current stage dancer was wasting waiting for the next girl to arrive. This could garner many enemies.
These were things to do as a team, so to speak, to maintain the peace at the club. However, there were ways that you could work as an actual team to make more money. I tended to not talk to nor befriend any of the dancers at the clubs where I worked. I found that a precarious endeavor. But at the last club I ever danced, I did befriend a very nice neophyte dancer who went by the stage name Bambi. She and I developed a sales technique we called the Double Team. The deal was that we would approach patrons together as a duo. Whatever a patron gave to one of us, we insisted he give to the other — tips, drinks, dances, which he was more than willing to do. If Bambi was on stage, I made him tip her, and Bambi did the same for me, which made the tedium of stage time much more tolerable. We gave simultaneous private dances and stayed together for the duration of the evening, sidling up to patrons hoping to close a deal. But Bambi was the only dancer with whom I ever made a team effort or even spoke. Girls are mean. Strippers are the meanest. Add money, drugs, and alcohol to the mix, and it produces an estrogen Molotov cocktail of cattiness and backstabbing. No one hates girls more than girls. Out of the thousands of girls with whom I danced, I got lucky meeting sweet Bambi. She and I made more money as a duo than we could have alone at this club. We rooted for each other, a rarity amongst strippers. Therefore, in sales, if at all possible, teaming up with a co-worker, especially one with great tits, can be quite advantageous and lucrative, if you find the right teammate.
6. Upsell: Timing was everything at the strip club, and getting a patron to buy more than one dance once I got him back in the private dance booth was a different kind of strategy. A private dance lasted the length of one song, so three minutes give or take a few seconds. The DJ did not have Bohemian Rhapsody or November Rain in his rotation, thank God. The first part of the song I spent undressing down to my thong (I did nude dances. Topless dances were a waste of time and, in my opinion, money. Why go to a topless strip club when you could go to a nude club a few miles down the road?). It was not until the last minute that I took my bottoms off and commenced…grinding. By the time the song had ended, the patron was usually close to “finishing.” I heard this is painful for men, not being able to finish, and yes, many men chose to finish in their pants. By this point, I told him that I would keep going if he bought another dance, which he usually did. Sometimes another dance turned into three or four depending on how drunk he was and his degree of whiskey dick. God bless alcohol and its ability to stifle erections and ejaculation. Of course, I only felt this way about dicks and booze as it related to patrons at my job. In any other context, whiskey dick is a big bummer, for both parties. Anyway, the harder it was for the patron to get hard, the better for me, and the more dances I could sell with the promise of more grinding leading to a finale of sweet, sticky release. Voila…upsold. Always leave them wanting more. Every salesperson has their method of doing this. Mine happened to be giving my clientele painful blue balls to make another sale.
All in all, my sales strategy wasn’t foolproof. Some patrons had no intention of buying my product no matter how short my Catholic schoolgirl skirt nor x-rated my pitch, and it got pretty damn filthy on slow nights when my quota seemed impossible to reach. Week after week, with each new guy I approached, my silly sexual monologue grew easier and more comfortable to recite. Soon it became rote, and my mission waxed crystal clear. With my newfound sales technique firmly in place, I made it my personal goal to Glengarry Glen Ross the salaries out of every drunken businessman, coke-head, nerd, divorcé, gang member, and freak that walked through those dirty opaque doors. And my motto only differed slightly from Alec Baldwin’s ruthless trope. I wrote it down on a little piece of paper and taped it inside my locker at the club for motivation — simple, powerful, straightforward — three letters that stand for how I changed my approach to my rather unpleasant job at the clubs — the underlying motivation serving me well with other endeavors I took on after the clubs and in life: ABL