In my last entry I alluded to my past selling history. My first adventure in sales was selling vacuum cleaners door to door for Electrolux. I was pretty useless at it and in fact never sold a thing for an entire month. After one of my incompetent demonstrations when I made matters worse by blowing more dust and dirt over the carpet than when I started a lady said, “Well, I’ll contact your company if I ever need a vacuum cleaner. Mind you, by that time I don’t think you will be there and I suspect you will be doing something you are more suited to!”
However one day I knocked on a door and the guy answered saying, “Oh, I can’t waste time talking to salesmen. I have to go down town to buy a vacuum cleaner so I have no time to talk” I couldn’t believe my luck and replied, “But I am selling vacuum cleaners”. He responded surprised, “You are?” I said, “Sure, here it is. I can save you a trip down town” He looked at my forlorn self and then looked at the less forlorn vacuum cleaner and said, “OK. Come in and show me what you’ve got” I did and by some miracle I actually sold it. It was in fact the only one I ever sold for the company.
Of course my vacuum cleaner career did not last and I went on to selling carbon paper by calling on offices and was useless at that too. And then I got another job selling carbon paper by phone and was no good at that either!
But then I found my niche. I discovered I was far better at selling to a crowd than I was to individuals so I became an exhibition demonstrator or pitchman. The type of guy you see selling kitchen gadgets at fairs. I would gather crowds around me while I sold bar accessories, knives, potato peelers, wrenches, eyeglass cleaners, flower holders and trick decks of cards. I would take in money right, left and centre and learned a lot from veteran pitchmen.
I use those very skills today as a trade show magician. I gather the crowds in exactly the same way, hold them until the very end and bring the people on to the booth and hand them over to the sales people at the end of the show. I have never been a trade show sales rep myself but I have learned a few things from the people I have worked with and hope to impart a few of them in entries to come.