My brother was a traveling sales representative, calling on homeowners in a 3 state
region. On the day he quit, he had a particularly tight schedule, with appointments
scheduled hours of travel apart. He rushed to get to the first appointment by 8 am, then
on to the next, and the next - each a mad dash and no time to stop; even to eat. What
happened at his last stop is why he quit...
As he reached his final destination at about 7 pm, he
was nearly starving.
There was a bowl of peanuts on the table, and as he spoke to the prospective customer, he
casually nibbled on them. During the course of the conversation, he suddenly realized to
his horror that he had consumed nearly the entire bowl, and began to apologize to the
The guy cut him off - and said "No
problem, don't worry about it. We don't like peanuts anyway. You see, I like plain
m & m's ... my wife bought the peanut kind ... and I just sucked the chocolate off
A keen Texas lad applied for a salesman's job at a city
department store. The store was the biggest in the world and sold everything under the sun.
"Have you ever been a salesman before?" the boss asked during his
"Yes, I was a salesman in Texas," the lad answered. The boss took
an immediate liking to him and told him he could start the next
"I'll come and see how you made out after we close up," the boss
The day was long and hard for the young man, but finally it was 5
o'clock. The boss closed up the store and found the lad sitting, slumped and exhausted, in a chair. "How many sales did you make
today?" the boss asked.
"One," said the lad.
"One?" said the boss, obviously displeased. "Most of the sales
people on my staff make 20 or 30 sales a day. How much was the sale worth?"
"Exactly $101,334.53," said the young man.
"How did you manage that?!?" asked the boss, flabbergasted.
"Well," said the lad, "this man came in and I sold him a small
fish hook, then a medium fish hook, and finally a really large hook. Then I sold him a small fishing line, a medium one, and
huge one. I asked him where he was going fishing, and he said he was going down the coast. I said he'd probably need a boat, so I
took him down to the boat department and sold him that fancy 22-foot Chris Craft with twin engines. Then he said his Honda Civic
probably wouldn't be able to handle the load, so I took him to the vehicle department and sold him a new GMC 1-ton pickup
"You sold all that to guy who came in for a fish hook?" the boss
asked in astonishment.
"He didn't come in to buy a fish hook," the Texas boy explained.
"He came in to buy a box of tampons for his wife, and I said to him, 'Your weekend's shot. You might as well go fishing.' "
WHILE working in a financial
district as a sales representative for a prominent business-machine company, I often found
stock brokers so caught up in their work that they failed to listen to my pitch. After
several vain attempts to get one broker to look up from his financial statements, I
desperately exclaimed, "The sky's falling!" ''Well, then, sell Sky,'' he replied
I WAS a new sales clerk at a large store in Mississauga, Ont., and not too sure where
all the stock computers and microfiches were located. I was trying desperately to help a
customer when another sales clerk walked by. "Irma," I asked, "where's the
nearest fiche?" To the customer's delight, Irma looked at me and replied, "In
AN EXTERMINATING company was giving free termite inspections, and my dad phoned for an
appointment. After the inspector checked out our house, he said to Dad, "You don't
have any termites right now, but there's a bunch of 'em in that firewood out in your
backyard. When they've eaten their way through it, I guarantee that they'll head for your
house." Dad was silent for a moment. Then, in his slow drawl, he replied, "Well,
from the prices you quoted, I figure it would be cheaper for me just to buy the termites
another cord of wood."
A BON VIVANT who was buying a sports shirt found the largest size too snug. "Where
do I go from here?" he asked the svelte young woman who was helping him. "To the
gym," she replied.
MY BEST salesman was having trouble landing a desirable
account. Try as he would, he couldn't get to see the purchasing agent. Then, as he was
passing a flight-insurance desk at the airport, inspiration hit. He took out a policy for
$500,000, named the purchasing agent as beneficiary, attached a business card on which he
wrote "My last thoughts were of you," and mailed it. He got the account.
IN A department store, a difficult customer and a patient
clerk were having a hard time getting together. Nothing the clerk provided was
suitable. Finally, the finicky shopper said in annoyance, "Can't you find
a smarter clerk to serve me?" "No," said the saleswoman.
"The smarter clerk saw you coming and disappeared."
IN A crowded elevator, one man asked another, "How's
business?" "Last year we sold 500,000 houses, 700,000 farms and 750,000
schools," came the reply. "This year we ought to do equally well and, in
addition, sell 1,200,000 garages." As the elevator descended, there was heavy silence
for a moment. Then someone spoke up indignantly. "Sir," he said, "I'm in
real estate, and those figures are preposterous!" He didn't know that the man
boasting about his business was the marketing director of a major toy company.
APPLYING for a sales job at the local fabric shop, my
sister-in-law was given a short test of her knowledge of measurements and calculations.
The owner was amazed when she answered all ten questions correctly, and immediately
offered to hire her. "You wouldn't believe," he said with a deep sigh, "how
many people get seven or eight wrong on this test." "Oh yes I would," she
told him. "They've all been waiting on me for years."
A door-to-door vacuum salesman goes to the first house in his
new territory. He knocks, a real mean and tough looking lady opens the door, and
before she has a chance to say anything, he runs inside and dumps cow patties all over the
carpet. He says, "Lady, if this vacuum cleaner don't do wonders cleaning up
that cow manure, I'll eat every chunk of it." She turns to him with a smirk and
says, "You want ketchup on that?" the Salesman says, "why do you
ask?" She says "We just moved in and we haven't got the electricity turned
A man went into a store and began looking around. He saw a
washer and dryer, but there was no price listed on them. He asked the sales person
"How much are the washer and dryer?" "Five dollars for both of
them," the salesman said. "Yeah right, you've got to be kidding me!"
the man replied sarcastically. "No, that's the price," the salesman said,
"Do you want to buy them or not?" "Yeah, I'll take them!" the
customer responded. He continued to look around and saw a car stereo system with a
detachable face cassette player, a CD changer, amplifier, speakers, and subwoofers.
"How much?" he asked. "Five dollars for the system," the
salesman answered. "Is it stolen?" the guy asks. "No,"
said the salesman, "It's brand new, do you want it or not?"
"Sure," the customer replied. He looked around some more. Next he
found a top of the line computer with printer and monitor. "How
much?" "Five dollars," was the familiar response. "I'll
take that too!" the man said. As the salesperson is ringing up the purchases,
the man asked him, "Why are your prices so cheap?" The salesman said,
"Well, the owner of the store is at my house right now with my wife. What he's
doing to her, I'm doing to his business."
IN ADDITION to learning how to mix up a pitcher of very
refreshing lemonade, a young businessman in my neighborhood has absorbed a lesson from the
adult world of sales promotion. As I sipped my lemonade on the way home from work one
afternoon, I saw him adjusting the handmade sign on his stand to read: "Lemonade
more than 17 cups served."
AS A career counselor working out of an office in our home,
my wife finds it difficult to handle the numerous phone calls from salesmen who are only
doing their job but refuse to believe that she is doing hers. One home insulation salesman
persisted in arguing for "just one hour" of my wife's time, despite her
insistence that she was busy. His sales pitch ended abruptly, however, when my wife agreed
to give him an appointment the next day at her usual fee of $35 an hour.
A FRIEND of mine who sells air-driven tools was learning a
new territory, and in one city a customer offered to "show her the ropes." After
visiting various clients, the customer asked her to dinner. During the meal, he posed a
hypothetical question: "If you were given the largest order of your career and then
asked for an additional 'personal favor' to close the deal, what would you do?"
"Oh, that's easy," she replied, "I'd subcontract."
MY BROTHER sells antique clocks and watches. Once he had a
hard time with an unpleasant customer who wouldn't accept his price for a magnificent old
time piece. After hours of negotiations, they settled on a figure. Exhausted but not
defeated, my brother fell back on his talent for having the last word. As the man left
with his clock, my brother called out: ". . . and don't forget to change the
batteries once a year.''
AT THE scale-manufacturers' convention, people often weighed
themselves on different scales to see if they agreed. Some of the visitors abstained,
however, not wishing to advertise their weight. A smooth talking representative from one
company coaxed a woman onto his scale by promising her he would not look and that
she could even cover the digital display so only she could see her weight. She finally
stood on the scale, where upon a loud, mechanical voice from within the machine announced:
"One hundred and sixty-three."
MY FAMILY and I were surprised to see just how true some
advertisers' claims can be. While driving to our new cottage, we saw two men with their
huge moving van parked by the roadside. Surrounded by a living-room ensemble, they were
drinking beer and enjoying the summer sun. This sign was blazoned on the van: "WE
TREAT YOUR FURNITURE LIKE OUR OWN."
THE manager of a department store received a telephone call
at his home around the dinner hour. A sweet-voiced woman asked him, "How've you
been?" "Uh, fine, fine," said the manager. "That's nice," said
the woman. "I'm glad to hear you're well." "Well, uh, say-do I know
you?" asked the manager. "We've never met," admitted the woman. "But I
just thought I'd call." "Oh," said the manager. "Well, uh it's dinner
time and I have guests...." "I know it's dinner time," said the woman.
"But I thought this was the time you liked people to call." "What?"
said the manager. ''Your telephone solicitors call me frequently at this hour and want to
sell me a credit card," said the woman. "I've told them I'm not interested, but
they keep calling. So I've decided that every time they call me, I'll call you."
"Now wait a minute...." he began. "I'm going to give you my name and
telephone number," said the woman. "And you just pass it along to your telephone
solicitors and tell them that each time I'm called, I intend to call you. Have a nice
day." The woman hasn't been bothered since.
THE young voice on the phone inquired if we received home
delivery of the local newspaper. "No," I replied, "my husband prefers the
walk to the store each day to purchase it." The young man eagerly launched into his
sales pitch, pointing out the convenience and savings in subscribing to home delivery. I
thanked him and again related how my husband enjoyed the little walk each day. There
was a pause, and then in a hopeful voice, he asked, "Well, could we arrange for
delivery on the next block?"
NOW that I'm a senior, garage sales seem to fascinate me. My
wife thinks I'm accumulating junk for my own sale. The last time I went to one, I told the
pert young lady selling the items: "There's nothing I really want. I just hope to
fall in love with something." "Come over here," she replied with a
grin. "I want you to meet my mother."
I WAS redecorating an older home. The master bathroom was
particularly challenging, and I went to an exclusive bath shop for professional help. An
impeccable salesman asked if he could be of service. "My bathroom has pink
tiles and blue fixtures," I said despairingly. "And it is very visible from the
red master bedroom. What should I do:" In clipped tones the man said, "Close the
WE NEEDED a new car, and I went to a local dealer with a long
list of requirements. "It must be inexpensive," I told the salesman, "but
big enough to transport eight Wolf Cubs and all their camping equipment. It has to have
lots of headroom. I don't want air-conditioning because I like to feel natural breezes.
And I'm not concerned about horse-power or a smooth ride." The salesman gazed
at me intently. "The covered wagon no longer exists, ma'am," he said.
AS PARTS manager for a small electronics shop, I had occasion
to order part No. 669 from the factory. But when I received it I noticed that someone had
sent me part No. 699 instead. Furious at the factory's incompetence, I promptly sent
the part back, along with a letter giving them a piece of my mind. Less than a week later,
I received the same part back with a letter containing just four words: "TURN THE BOX
MY daughter had an experience in a shoe store that convinced
me chivalry is not dead. She asked to see some white sandals, and from a large selection
finally chose a pair, but was hesitant to buy them. Noting the salesman's frustration, she
explained they were for her wedding and expressed concern that the heels might be too high
for dancing at the reception. The salesman bowed, took her hand and said, "May I have
this dance?" and proceeded to waltz her around the store. Needless to say, he made a
IN OUR local department store, a sales person was waiting on
a young woman whose recent wedding we had both attended. The new bride asked to see
twin-bed sheets. The clerk bit her lip as she rummaged through the packages on the shelf.
Finally she burst out, "It's none of my business, but twin beds? You're practically
still on your honeymoon!" It was the saleswoman's turn to blush as the bride
picked out one package of sheets. "You're taking it for granted we have two twin
beds," she replied.
AFTER trying a new shampoo for the first time, a friend's
father fired off an enthusiastic letter of approval to the manufacturer. Several weeks
later he came home from work to find a large carton in the middle of the hall. Inside were
free samples of the many products the company produced: soaps, toothpaste, detergents and
paper items. "Well, what do you think?" his wife asked, smiling.
"Next time," he replied, "I'm writing General Motors."
A BALDING, white-haired man, whom I new to be an automobile
salesman, sat in the barber's chair next to mine. As the barber adjusted the chair he
asked, "How would you like it cut?" "Just trim the whitewall,"
the man said. "and polish the hubcap."
A BATTERED old television set was put up for sale at an
auction. Although the auctioneer insinuated that he didn't think it would ever work, a man
bid it up to $20. The man gave his bid number as 45, Later, a woman bought an
article and announced her bid number as 45. Wanting to verify the number, the auctioneer
asked if the man who bought the TV was her husband. "He was," she snapped,
"before he bought that television set."
I WAS collecting items for our annual yard sale and caught my
husband throwing an old hammer into the trash bin. "The claw part is broken
off," he said when I retrieved it. "No one will buy it." "Want
to bet?" I challenged. Sure enough, it was one of the first things to be sold.
My husband could barely contain himself. "Why would you buy a hammer without a
claw?" he asked the woman who purchased it. Looking him sternly in the eye, she
replied, "Wherever I drive a nail, I have no intention of taking it out!"
AFTER nearly ten years of remote rural living, my husband, a
salesman, was transferred to a new territory near a large city. We found the prospect of
being near a community rich in culture very appealing. Our enthusiasm was severely
dampened, however, after a frustrating day of house-hunting and discovering suburban real
estate prices. Some time later, over lunch, we complained to my husband's new supervisor
about the exorbitant monthly payments on the property which we had selected, anticipating
a sympathetic reaction. Instead, he exclaimed, "That's just how I like to see my
sales people - debt-propelled!"
WHILE trying on a new suit, I could hear a conversation
between another customer and the salesman outside the changing room. "This suit fits
you perfectly!" the salesman declared. "You look like a new man." At
just that moment, not realizing the customer was using the mirror on my door, I flung it
open, and we found ourselves eye to eye. Still facing me, the customer answered the
salesman: "You're right. I do look like a new man."
I am a sales agent and operate the business from my residence. When a minister by the
name of Larry Dyck moved into town, we started receiving each other's phone calls. One day
a new customer of mine called the minister's home and immediately started to place his
order for shoes. When the customer paused, the reverend interjected with, "I believe
you would like to speak to the man who sells soles. However, you have reached the man who
FRUSTRATED by my lack of resistance when sales
clothing stores paid me exaggerated compliments, I decided to be more assertive. On my
next shopping venture, a clerk gushed, "It's perfect like it was made for
you." Knowing it wasn't even remotely "me," I marshaled my defenses.
"But it doesn't say anything; it doesn't speak to me," I protested.
Undaunted, the sales woman replied, "Doesn't it even whisper a little?"