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Sales Genius

One afternoon the managing director of a big department store was looking through a stack of dockets beside a cash register. He came across one transaction of more than $12 000. Even for a store as large as his it was a really big sale. He asked the department manager:

"Who put this through?"

"A new fellow. Trenery. Only been with us a few weeks."

"Send him up to my office at 9.30 tomorrow morning."

Trenery was duly informed that his presence was required next morning by the managing director. He was a little apprehensive, but presented himself at the appointed time. A secretary showed him in.

"Ah! Trenery, isn't it? Sit down, my boy. Would you like a cup of coffee?"

"No thank you, sir."

"Trenery, my reason for sending for you this morning is that we are planning a new sales training programme, to be used throughout the store. Yesterday I saw from the dockets in your department that you had put through one sale in excess of $12 000. That is a very commendable effort.

So much so, that I want you to be a special guest speaker at the sales training programme, so that you can pass on to your workmates the high degree of skill that enabled you to complete what was very likely the biggest transaction ever made in the history of the store."

"Thank you very much, sir, but if you don't mind, I'd rather not. You see, I've only been on staff for a few weeks whereas others have been here many years. If I set myself up as some kind of expert they may easily resent it, and my life in the store could be made miserable."

"I see. Yes. You have a good point there. Perhaps what you can do is describe for me how you made the sale, step by step. I can pass the information along to our trainers, who in turn can give it out at the course without any names being mentioned. Tell me. What was the first item the customer bought?"

"Three dozen trout-fishing hooks."

"I see. What happened then?"

"I sold him half a dozen reels of line, some sinkers, wet and dry flies, and a rod and reel. Next he needed heavy-duty clothing, a hat and a pair of thigh boots. I pointed out that rather than carry his gear backwards and forwards every weekend, he would be much better with a permanent base. I sold him one of our three-room prefabricated cabins.

I mentioned that roads into the best spots were fairly rugged and persuaded him to buy a four-wheel-drive vehicle. Then there was the boat and the outboard motor. I think that was all."

"That's amazing. You mean this customer just came in for fish hooks, and you sold him all that?"

"Well, no, sir. He didn't come in for fish hooks at all."

"What did he come in for?"

"He just asked me for directions to maternity wear, so I said to him, 'You look like being in for rather a lame time, sir. Have you tried trout fishing?"'

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