Chapter 14

It's Astounding What You Don't Sell When You Don't Ask

I KNOW WHAT IT'S LIKE. I can give personal testimony.

When I first started calling on folks, I was terrified. That's the truth of it. I could easily get through the early stages of the presentation. In fact, I was quite good.

I spoke with ease about my product and how it would serve the needs of the probable buyer. I had undisciplined enthusiasm for the fray and the venture.

But when it came to that frightening moment when I was to ask for the order, I froze. I felt like I had a chicken bone caught in my throat. All of a sudden I understood the song, “Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered.”

Your initial sales calls will surely be a lot easier than Cal Turner's. His first experience was as a teenager in the family's store in Scottsville, Kentucky. He tells me that as a beginner, he got all the customers nobody else wanted.

“I remember trying to make a sale to this old, weathered farmer. He is struggling over buying a 39-cent pair of panties for his wife.

“I ask him what size she wears. He doesn't know. I tell him that if he doesn't know the size, we won't be able to find a pair of panties for him.

“‘How big is she?’ I ask.

“He points to my Aunt Ethel who also worked in the store. ‘She's about her size.’

“Now I think I am getting somewhere.

“Aunt Ethel is our best clerk in the store. At the moment, she is waiting on an important customer. She is carrying a big armful of merchandise that she is about to ring up.

“‘Ethel!’ ...

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