Salesmen With That Special Knack

Some folks are natural salesmen.

We never have been. However, we were reminded about the art of salesmanship as we watched a couple sell roasted nuts at a recent farm show. The economy might be tight, but nearly half of everybody passing their booth was a purchaser. We soon became aware of their success rate and decided we ought to study the techniques.

It was a combination of things, we concluded. First off was the tantalizing smell; roasting the cashews, pecans and almonds in a cinnamon sugar concoction sent an aroma for no less than 50 yards in every direction. As people walked by, they were urged to take samples – not just one, but all three varieties.

The congenial couple operating the booth smiled as they distributed samples, discreetly revealing prices for three sizes of packages, offering discounts for volume purchases. Often, men, women and teenagers, alike, were reaching into their pockets to make purchases before they completed the taste-test.

Interestingly, a number of people wouldn’t even accept a free nut, but were anxious to make a buy. And the majority, it seemed, took the special, two for a lower price. Doesn’t every salesperson wish they had that rate of success? We’ve thought a lot about them since and can recall three other top salesmen who left an impression on us.

First, the senior sales representative when we came to work at our newspaper job over 36 years ago was already elderly, but he had a knack that is still remarked about today. Another, who we won’t name, is a radio voice with salesmanship ability unmatched by any we’ve known, even though most only think of him as a broadcaster.

However, the one who left the greatest impact on us for his sales pitch triumphs was the southpaw champion heeler named Glen Skeen, who rode a bay gelding called Coke.

We were in the fifth grade when we first became aware of Glen’s sales techniques; he talked us into breeding our mare, Spot, to his stallion, Peppy Creek.

A few months later, Glen persuaded us to buy Nellie Belle, which we named partially after his wife, Anna Belle. Of course, Glen sold us repeat matings to the stallion. There was no way for a city kid to haul a horse in those days, but Glen offered the solution as he owned a trailer dealership, and sold our parents a new two-horse tandem.

Truth is Glen could sell anything: more liquid molasses protein, more sacked feeds, more saddle club memberships, and more used lawn mowers than anybody. Glen could collect more donations for any cause, and was instrumental in convincing the city to build a major horse racing track, and on and on. If it was for sale, Glen could sell it.

What is it that makes some able to sell anything, though most of us struggle? A good product helps, but is sure not essential. Maybe it’s congeniality, gift of gab, persistency, consistency, liking to sell and not be discouraged by “no” because the next one will buy.

Thus, we must heed Proverbs 23:23: “Buy the truth, and sell it not; also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding” However, we always remember Leviticus 25:14: “If you make a sale to your friend or buy from your friend, you shall not wrong one another.”