“BOY, HAVE I got a deal for you!
“Listen, it’sonly$5,000downand$1,000amonthfortherestofyourlife!” Say it really fast and it doesn’t have time to weigh on your conscience…much.
It’s unfortunate that the sales profession keeps a black eye because a small minority, plus some big-time promoters, tries to pull a fast one and destroys any trust that might exist for sales people.
There has been a considerable segment of my life dedicated to sales, most of it advertising in newspapers, but I had an experience in other sales areas early in my life that left a sour taste about selling for many years.
Forty-five years ago, as a young newspaperman with a family, I wasn’t making nearly enough money to support us in a style to which I wanted to be accustomed. I’d poor-mouthed it to a couple of people and one of them came to me one day to tell me of a Sunday sales opportunity where a good salesman could make at least $1,000 every weekend. That got my attention.
We would be selling lots on a new lake near Corpus Christi, on straight commission of course. And, it was a start-up development with “lots of advertising” to bring prospects out.
So, I eagerly agreed and off we went to become rich and famous.
What I didn’t know was that the development was a three-hour drive from my home, and three more back — six hours a day on the road with an eight-hour sales day (you can’t sell water view lots in the dark) sandwiched in between.
There was one entrance to the vast development and, of course, we sales types were right there to lead the prospects down to the water and to the lots with a “view of the lake.”
YEAH. RIGHT. If you stood on your tiptoes. The lots “on” the water had disappeared in a pre-development sale. Someone besides me made the big money, namely the sales managers who were hired first and had a huge head start on the prime lots.
I should have followed my first inclination upon seeing the “lake view lots” and turned around and hightailed it three hours home. And, I could have poured that time into my newspaper job and probably made more money. With a little maturity, I managed to do that…to stick to something I knew a lot about.
I lasted two Sundays on the lake deal and was out my share of the gas money, meals and all that time. A 14-hour Sunday didn’t have me rested for my normal 18-hour Monday at the paper either.
The “friend” who’d alerted me to the “opportunity” and with whom I hitched a ride to and from the “magic” development each Sunday, had enough of something in his heart to become a full-time salesman for lake development. He left a car sales job where he was very successful.
I HAVE TO really believe in what I’m selling, and I didn’t believe in that lake lot sales job no matter how much money they said I could make if I just followed their successful pitch. I mean, if you’re standing there and obviously on your tiptoes trying to see the water and saying, “Isn’t this a great view?,” how sincere can you be. Oh, and did I mention there was a dearth of vegetation on the lots let alone trees of any size for shade.
If I’d had a little larceny in my heart, I might have been more convincing to my prospective buyers and maybe made a bunch of money like my friend.
Oh, did I mention we didn’t see each other or visit much after that little adventure.
Willis Webb is a retired community newspaper editor-publisher of more than 50 years experience. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.