She’ll need a wide-angle lens for this big shot

The receptionist was pretty, and the visiting salesman lost no time in trying to impress her with his many charms. He bragged on and on about his exploits in selling, his former life as football hero, his success with the fair sex, and everything else he could think of.

The young lady tried to get on with her work, but that didn’t dissuade the story-teller. Finally, she looked up innocently and asked, “Tell me, have  you ever had a group photograph taken of yourself?”

DJT’s “Art of the Deal”

In a recent response in which I quoted hotel founder Conrad Hilton,  I included his thought about the role of the “deal” in making that sale.  President Trump has elevated deal-making to a new level, first with his book The Art of the Deal and, now, with his use of deal-making in his role as President. While I don’t wish to get into the political arena here — on one side or another — I would be very interested to hear what our bloggers think about DJT’s deal-making techniques that he may be using to foster and support his various positions.  And, to what degree they may be successful.

To remind all what DJT means by deal-making, here are his eleven deal-making steps he mentions in his book The Art of the Deal: 1) Think big; 2) Protect the downside and the upside will take care of itself; 3) Maximize your options; 4) Know your market; 5) Use your leverage; 6) Enhance your location; 7) Get the word out; 8) Fight back; 9) Deliver the goods; 10) Contain the costs; 11) Have fun.

To this end, I’ve added the new category Deal Making to this blog as I expect the concept — as a valuable (and, perhaps, sometimes controversial)  tool in the salesman’s tool chest — will be important to salesmen and saleswomen for many years to come.  -Ron

P.S. Though I’m using the terms salesmen/saleswomen, I believe that we all are (or could be) salesmen. H.L. Fogleman (Master salesman, writing in premier issue of Opportunity magazine, June, 1923) said it best: “Every normal being is a salesman. The Minister, the Doctor, the Lawyer — selling their knowledge of Religion, of Medicine, of Law. The President of the United States is a salesman — selling his time, his talent, his ability — trying to persuade the people of this Country to think as he thinks and get them to do as as he wants them to do.”

The tables are turned

This is one of my favorites about a farmer and his  . . sons.

It seems this pert young miss was traveling for a medical supply house. Her car broke down one night on the road and she was forced to seek shelter in a farmhouse. After dinner the farmer went out to the barn to take care of some chores, and the traveling saleswoman and the two sons found themselves alone in the house.

Passion began to rise in the bosoms of the two stalwart young men. So, after a certain amount of amorous byplay the older son finally said: “Gee, golly lady, you’re pretty. I’d sure like to kiss you.”

“Me, too,” gurgled his brother.

“I wouldn’t object,” said the lady, always willing to please. “But I do have one request.”

“What’s that, lady?” they chorused.

“As you know, I travel for a medical supply house and we believe that kissing is dangerous. Too many germs are passed that way. If you want to kiss me, you’ll have to wear these gauze masks to prevent my catching some disease.”

“That’s okay with us, lady,” said the boys, their ardor rising by the minute. The young stalwarts donned the masks and each got their antiseptic kisses. The next morning the saleswoman left.

About two months later, the boys were working in the north pasture. The older turned to the younger, “You know,” he said. I don’t care if that lady gets a disease.”

“Me neither,” responded his brother.

“Then, let’s take off these goldurn masks,” said the older boy.

Violet McNeal, Early “Pitchwoman”

This early 20th century “relatively rare pitchman” recalled in her 1947 autobiography, Four White Horses and a Brass Band, that she mixed her medications herself in a disinfected bathtub before bottling and labeling the goods. “Vital Sparks,” her medicinal boost to male virility, were pieces of rock candy rolled in powdered aloes. “Tiger Fat,” a salve with supposedly exotic ingredients, was composed of items purchased wholesale from a mainstream druggist and suspended in a Vaseline base.

DeVos family and Amway

As Betsy DeVos was recently appointed education secretary, it might be interesting to know something about her outstanding salesman father-in-law.

Van Andel with Richard DeVos founded the $6 billion global direct sales giant Amway, relying on a vast sales force to sell products and recruit others to do the same.

Creating Amway in 1959, Van Andel started with the sale of vitamins, then soap and other home care products. Amway expanded rapidly with the development of a network of distributors who were encouraged to sell and consume the company’s products and to promote the virtue of direct sales to others.  The Amway sales method has been continuously supported via sell-help books and motivational tape recordings, binding together Amway’s 3-million international troop of salespeople.

Retiring as chairman of Amway in 1995, Van Andel devoted much of his later years to philanthropic causes, including the Van Andel Institute which financed research for a range of human health topics. He also contributed millions to urban renewal projects in Grand Rapids, MI (his hometown) and was trustee of the Heritage Foundation and Hudson Institute.

Throughout his life, Van Andel was critical of the interfering tendencies of big government.  Though the Federal Trade Commission spent six years investigating whether the company’s practices were an illegal pyramid scheme, charges were eventually dropped. Van Andel passed away in 2004.

Richard DeVos, Betsy’s father, listed by the 2007 Forbes magazine as one of the richest men in the world with a fortune of $3.5 billion, is a heart transplant recipient and owner of pro basketball’s Orlando Magic. Devon was inspired by his successful 1997 transplant experience to write Hope From My Heart: Ten Lessons for Life. Betsy is married to Richard’s son Dick DeVos, former CEO of Amway.

The “Pitch”

Today, the pitch is often understood as a high-pressure sales talk.  However, the origin of the word “pitch” was explained somewhat differently by Dr. N. T. Oliver, a 70-year-old ex-medicine-show star who published his memoirs in the Saturday Evening Post in 1929. Wrote Oliver: “The word ‘pitch’ and its derivative, ‘pitchman,’ come either from the pitch-pine torch under which he once worked by night, before the coming of the gasoline flame and electric light, or from the verb, as ‘to pitch a tent’.”

Who is this “Watson?”

You may have been wondering what IBM’s advertising reference to a “Watson” is all about. Many might conclude that the “Watson” is related to Sherlock Holmes’s Watson.  Not so. This is the real story behind Thomas J. Watson, 1874-1956.

An early sales manager for John Patterson’s National Cash Register Company, (known as NCR), Watson became president of the small Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company in 1914, later to become the better known IBM in 1934.

Watson introduced the novel idea of bringing salesmen in on meetings with his engineers so that the engineers could explain technical issues with the salesmen. On the other hand, the engineers could hear about customer issues and problem from the salesmen. It was this kind of training and preparation that made the IBM salesmen the best-informed in the business.

Watson, who was fond of aphorisms, contributed the one word “THINK,” a word that would soon become IBM’s credo. Watson demanded his salesmen “think their way to success.

Thomas Watson’s son, Thomas Watson, Jr., took over the presidency of IBM in 1951, aggressively moving the company into electronics and computers. IBM became a billion-dollar company in 1957, moving it far ahead of its business-machine competitors.