Cold Call

I just got off the phone with a rep who called us from one of the big optics companies.  He started the conversation by asking if we sold gun accessories.


Need I say more?


OK; any half-baked salesman would spend at least one whole minute researching the company he’s calling, you know, before making the call.  I point out this failure because it’s rare, but it keeps happening.  Along with failure “a” usually comes failure “b”; salesman wants to do all the talking and no listening.  He’s going down a list of phone numbers and reading a canned presentation.  That might result in some sales, but that’s not a salesman.


We knew a musical instrument salesman from the American affiliate of Big International Music, Inc. and he was the best in the business.  Here in the Northwest, the sales reps were generally given larger commissions due to the vast expanses they had to cover to make the same sales volume one of the big city reps could make within 20 square miles.  This guy did so well that he started to make “too much money” at the higher, Northwest commission rates.  Big International Music didn’t like that, so they cut his commission.  Mind you; no one had ever sold so much in the Northwest as this guy in all the history of the company.  THAT was the “problem” that was eating away at them, and they solved it alright.  When they cut his commission the guy quit and went to work for the competition, who suddenly started doing quite well for themselves.


That’s a salesman.  He knew about your business before he contacted you, for one thing.  This was before the internet, when it took more than a minute or two.  He’d talk to local professors and musicians– people most likely to know about you.  He’d go in with actual knowledge, and he’d talk WITH you rather than AT you.  Always looking for a deal, he’d also check all the local classified ad papers.  On one visit he left with a ’50s Oldsmobile he found here in town, figuring he could turn a profit on it.  I believe they’re more born (or bred) than trained in a month.  It’s a personality type.

3 thoughts on “Cold Call

  1. This reminds me of how Electronic Data Systems (EDS, now part of HP) was founded. The story goes that Ross Perot, an up and coming salesperson for IBM did so well in one of his first years that he made the maximum yearly commission allowed by sales people within the first 6 months. This meant that no matter what he sold from that point on, he would not make anymore commission on sales. This irritated him somewhat, so he left and started EDS.

  2. GD; Amazing. One wonders what goes through the minds of those who weed out their best performers. Perhaps no one knows. Maybe we could call it a form of economic Natural Selection.

  3. It is impossible to overpay a man who works on commission. It is stupidity to claim it can be done.

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