As the Dog Days of summer descend, we thought it would make fun summer reading to re-run one of the more entertaining and insightful columns to have appeared in EBN. This was penned by Stan Bromberg, self-proclaimed "peddler," who spelled out his tenets of salesmanship in a "Peddlers Lament," first published in these pages Dec. 14, 1981.
I must sell only to those customers with impeccable credit, but I must also keep my eyes open for all those exciting, promising new accounts.
I must push those products we have on the shelf, but I shouldn't turn any inquiries away.
I must never leave money on the table, but don't lose anything on price.
I must never lie to the customer concerning delivery, but don't lose the order either.
I must sell what the factory can manufacture easily, at a high profit, in large quantities, with extended lead times.
I must help the company establish a market for its new products, but not forget to move the old inventory--date coded 1903.
I must have in-depth account penetration, gaining complete account control, and call on a lot of accounts.
I must service my accounts. When the leads fall off and the printing rubs off, and the parts sizzle, crackle, and pop; when they are shipped to the wrong place, at the wrong time, for the wrong price, I am to look amazed, shocked, and, most important, incredulous.
I must expand the account base, but maintain individualized care and concern for existing customers.
I must look each principal/product manager in the eye and swear he has my undivided attention and concentration.
I must do my share of wining, dining, and entertaining customers, and keep expenses down.
I must help keep open lines of communication with my competition, but tell them nothing.
I must help with collections, but keep my nose out of credit decisions.
I must convince the customer that we really want his business, even though we don't return his calls and his credit took 14 days to clear.
I must understand, accept, and believe that sales managers are a special breed. For this reason, they have divine inspiration, vast experience, and the ability to drop prices.
I must be a technical expert on 3,236 part numbers, 96 product lines that are handled by 25 manufacturers, and it wouldn't hurt to know the competition also.
I must call regularly on engineering, and keep my hand in with purchasing.
I must call regularly on purchasing, and keep my hand in with engineering.
I must be prepared to justify to the customer a 40% price increase or a 40% price decrease depending on which way the wind is blowing.
I must be prepared to justify a 40% overshipment, or a 40% undershipment, depending on who is doing what to whom.
I must never badmouth the competition--just make sure the customer knows about their problems.
I must convince the customer that a part that is not form, fit, or functionally equal will work just peachy in his product.
I must convince the customer that an offshore part is not as good as, is equal to, or is better than the domestic part he asked for, depending on just whose product I am selling.
I must explain to the customer that just because it is in the catalog doesn't mean that we make it, ever did make it, ever will make it, or even could make it.
I must convince the customer that there is no reason to get hostile just because we talked him into designing in a product that the factory says is obsolete and the replacement part for which is not yet in production.
Though more than 20 years have passed since this opinion piece ran--and we have no idea of Mr. Bromberg's present whereabouts--we applaud him for his toungue-in-cheek insight and are interested in reader reaction as to whether his quips are as relevant today as when they were written. By and large we think so. Thanks to Robert Linker, who brought this column to our attention.
E-mail comments to Andrew MacLellan at email@example.com.