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An Introduction to the Sales Career via the Book “Caps for Sale”

“Once there was a peddler who sold caps. But he was not like an ordinary peddler carrying his wares on his back. He carried them on top of his head.”

So begins the tale of the peddler who sold caps in the famous book “Caps for Sale” by Esphyr Slobodkina originally published in 1940.

Those of you who read regularly might know that I am a sales rep. Having been in my industry in both the capacity as a buyer and a salesperson I feel qualified to give some input to those that are considering a career in sales. You could read “Sales for Dummies” or “Mastering the Art of the Sale” or one of the hundreds of other salesmanship books out there.

Or you could just read “Caps for Sale”.

Here’s why… see my in-depth analysis below.

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Situation 1. Our main character is a peddler who sells caps. He walks up and down the road trying to sell to customers.

Quote from book: “He walked up and down the streets, holding himself very straight so as not to upset his caps. As he went along he called, “Caps! Caps for Sale! Fifty Cents a Cap!”

Analysis: A good salesperson, as this man is, knows that his appearance is one of the most important tools in sales. He is dressed professionally and he keeps his goods very organized and well-kept on his head. He is self motivated, works hard and has a very competitively priced product which he can deliver on the spot. He is implementing one of the simplest of sales tools; fill a need. People need caps… he has caps.

Take Home Thought: Persistence, appearance, hard work and positive energy pays off.

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Situation 2: One day the peddler just couldn’t sell any caps. So he decided to take a walk into the country and found a nice shady tree and took a nap.

Quote from Book: “One morning he couldn’t sell any caps. He walked up and down the street calling “Caps! Caps for Sale! Fifty Cents a Cap!” But nobody wanted any caps that morning. Not even a red cap.”

Analysis: Sales can be very rewarding some days and very frustrating other days. Even the best salesperson will have days when he just can’t sell anything. The peddler understands that a good salesperson is always planting seeds whether he has made a sale or not. Those seeds often grow into positive relationships with customers. He also knows that on some days  he’ll run into rejection after rejection after rejection. On those days it’s often easier to just take a nap.

Take home thought: Sometimes it’s easier just to take a nap.

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Situation 3: When the peddler woke up he realized he had a serious problem; all of his caps were missing.

Quote from Book: “He looked up into the tree. And what do you think he saw? On every branch sat a monkey. On every monkey was a gray, or a brown or a blue, or a red cap!”

Analysis: A good salesperson knows that success will often involve overcoming significant challenges. The peddler knows that he needs to be very detail oriented and constantly at the top of his game. Even though the peddler felt it was okay to take a short break from working, from past experience he quickly remembered that inevitably, if he is not paying attention, something will go wrong.

Take Home Thought: It’s okay to occasionally sleep on the job but be prepared for the consequences.

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Situation 4: The peddler got up from the ground and knew that he had to address the situation.

Quote from book: “The peddler looked at the Monkeys. The Monkeys looked at the peddler. He didn’t know what to do. Finally he spoke to them.”

Analysis: A good salesperson knows that he will sometimes be confronted with a problem, either with a corporate colleague, another rep, or a customer.  When that happens, its best to find a prompt solution that will minimize damage and that is suitable for all parties involved. A good salesperson also knows that to reach an adequate solution to an issue it’s best to have a face to face conversation rather than hiding behind e-mails or texts.  Phone calls are adequate if there is geographical distance between the parties.

Take Home Thought: Face to face conversations are always the preferred method of conflict resolution.

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Situation 5: The circumstances quickly spiral out of control. The peddler shouts at the monkeys, shakes his finger and stamps on the ground in an attempt to get his caps back. But the monkeys only mimic him back.

Quote from Book: “You monkeys, you” he said, shaking a finger at them, “you give me back my caps.” But the monkeys only shook their fingers back at him and said, “Tsz, tsz, tsz.”

Analysis: A good salesperson knows that when attempting to resolve a problem, what begins as a reasonable approach can quickly disintegrate into an epic battle of finger-pointing, stamping feet and abrasive language. Even though the peddler knows this will only cause the monkeys to become defensive and act in the same aggressive and condescending manner, he let’s himself fall into this misdirected method of conflict resolution.

Take Home Thought: Remember the old cliché, “you will catch more monkeys with bananas than you will with vinegar. Monkey’s hate vinegar.” Don’t let anger get the best of you.

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Situation 6: The peddler gets so fed up that he throws his hat on the ground in anger. In response to this, all the monkeys throw their hats on the ground as well and he is able to collect them all up.

Quote from Book: “So the peddler picked up his caps and put them back on his head – first his own checked cap, then the gray caps, then the brown caps, then the blue caps, then the red caps at the very top.”

Analysis:  A good salesperson knows to take advantage of any situation that ends in a positive result whether the positive result was intended or not. Although the peddler knows his approach to solving this particular problem may not have been his finest moment, he can now put this one behind him and get back to his primary role… selling!

Take Home Thought: Stuff usually works out!

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Situation 7: The peddler regains his composure and gets back into the sales field, working hard, filling needs and building relationships.

Quote from Book: “And slowly, slowly, he walked back to town calling, “Caps! Caps for sale! Fifty cents a cap!”

Analysis:  A good salesperson is resilient. A good salesperson lives to sell another day. The peddler knows that he shouldn’t let yesterday’s headaches affect today’s successes.

Take Home Thought: Never Give Up!

So there you go, pretty much all you need to know about sales.

And in the worst case scenario… sometimes it’s easier to just take a nap.

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Ten Reasons You Shouldn’t SPAM Follow Me

Sorry I had to jump on the bandwagon. With the recent hyper-activity of SPAM followers going around WordPress and with no noticeable solution on the horizon, I figured I would take the situation into my own hands. So, here’s a post that hopefully will deter some of the Spammer’s out there from clicking my subscribe button.

Ten Reasons You Shouldn’t SPAM Follow Me:

10. I don’t have Irritable Bowel Syndrome. I will admit to having suffered with hemorrhoids occasionally but definitely not Irritable Bowel Syndrome.  Sometimes the morning after drinking too much I feel like I might have it, but that usually goes away in a few hours.

9. I don’t need any more credit cards. I have enough of those and I typically pay them off every month. I appreciate your concern with my financial well-being but so far I am in good shape with only moderate amounts of debt. I’m sort of old-fashioned too. You would have had better luck if you had sent me an envelope with one of those cool, fake credit cards in it. That would have piqued my interest a little more than you following a blog about goats and such.

8. I don’t speak any languages that fall in the categories of Asian or Arabic or even European. I especially don’t speak Indonesian-ese. See, I don’t really know what language they even speak in Indonesia, but seems I have become a popular blog in that region. In fact, I’ll admit that I really don’t even know where Indonesia is and if it’s a country or just a region, or perhaps just an area. I only speak English and even that I struggle with sometimes.

7. I’m not a believer in God or really anything religious.  If you were subscribing to my blog so that I might join your legion of brainwashed followers, well sorry, you’re definitely wasting your time. Why I haven’t been struck down by lightning yet, in the 45 years I’ve been around is a popular question.

6. I don’t buy much clothing and I’ve never, ever bought myself a women’s purse or women’s jewelry. That’s not really my thing.  In my younger days, I did used to be a little bit metro-sexual, but the whole country life has kind of kicked that in the ass. In fact I haven’t even purchased new underwear in several years. I’m not really the best candidate for your retail operations.

5. In a similar vein, other than my wedding band, I don’t wear any Men’s jewelry either, especially a watch.  I understand that there are a lot of really cool, imitation watches out there, that would perhaps make me look like I am very important and wealthy. But I just find that I don’t really need a watch anymore. See, I have my phone and it tells me the time all day long. In fact I think it pulls the time from somewhere up in outer space, where I guess there’s some kind of super clock that is always right. I don’t really know how it works but it’s very smart and it even knows when to change to daylight savings time, which is pretty cool. So, that’s working out pretty well for me.

4. I’m not much of a dieter. Especially healthy diets.  If your diet plan consists of pasta, hot dogs, wine and other food that comes from a box, including the wine, then perhaps I might be more interested.

3. I’m not in a position right now to be buying any new appliances. I will share with you that our dishwasher broke down about five years ago and we’ve never replaced it. We just do our dishes the old-fashioned way, in the sink with a brush and a sponge. Our Microwave just recently started acting up, not turning on and other strange behaviors. But we discovered that if you hit the side of it pretty hard, that seems to usually get it back on track. I think I’ll just keep doing that for a while.

2. This blog is not that popular. I know I like to toot my own horn and pretend that it’s very popular, but I still haven’t even reached the 500 subscriber mark. Now, I will admit that number is increasing exponentially with the recent influx of followers, but of those that are actually subscribed I think there are probably only about 30 that are reading actively. There’s probably other blogs that might be more lucrative for you. Perhaps you could find a good blog written by an Indonesian Credit Card Salesman who suffers from Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

1. Frankly its CREEPING ME THE FUCK OUT!  This is a personal blog, GO THE FUCK AWAY!

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Ten Sensitive Ways to Break-Up with Another Blogger

An unfortunate dynamic of blogging is that sometimes we have to break-up with another blogger with whom we have developed a blogging relationship. I’ve broken up with several bloggers in the last few years and many more have broken up with me. The usual technique that bloggers employ is the Vanish Method – just stop reading, stop leaving comments on posts and stop clicking the “like” button.  In extreme cases, the blogger might even spend three to four hours digging through their WordPress Dashboard trying to actually figure out how to un-follow a blogger that they are no longer interested in following. But this method is very boorish and inconsiderate and leaves the “victim” of the break-up sadly wondering where their friend has gone and if it was something that they wrote that might have caused this animosity in the relationship.

So, with that in mind, here’s ten sensitive break-up lines you can use to end your relationship with another fellow blogger without leaving him or her hanging in limbo…

10. Sorry… but the excessively large number of subscribers you have is making me feel inadequate.

9. Sorry… it’s really been so great getting to know you and learning about your failed relationships but I think I want to focus on some other blogs for a while.

8. Sorry… but the frequency of your writing is making me feel a little bit uncomfortable.   I really love that I’m getting three to four posts a day from you but I just can’t keep up with that.

7. Sorry… I still love your blog. I really do! It’s really great, even the soy and tofu recipes and the posts about your kid’s poopy pants. I just really need some time to focus on my own writing right now.

6. Sorry… I guess I just moved too fast when I followed you when you were Freshly Pressed. At the time I knew it would be the start of a wonderful blog relationship. But then you didn’t follow me back and I really don’t feel like this is a two-way relationship.

5. Sorry… but your posts just aren’t keeping me satisfied.  It’s not that they’re too short or even too long. They’re really the perfect length. I just find myself fantasizing about other blogger’s posts while I’m reading your posts.

4. Sorry… really, it’s not your blog’s fault, it’s my “WordPress Reader’s” fault. It’s very full and it just needs some personal space.

3. Sorry… but I think you love my blog more than I love your blog and I don’t want to hurt you by not leaving comments on your posts.

2. Sorry… I think we’d be better off just being Facebook friends.

1. Sorry… I “like” your posts… I just don’t “like like” your posts.

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The Freshly Pressed Experience

When my post Old Barn Coat was featured on Freshly Pressed a few weeks ago, I had a couple of loyal readers ask me to comment on the experience. I wasn’t sure I wanted to write a post like this because in reality we can all look at the blogs that appear on the WordPress front page and easily see how much traffic these posts receive, even if only temporarily.

But, as I know a lot of people write a post-FP’d post, at least after the first time it happens, I thought I should fulfill my obligation as well. Because it really was a fun roller coaster ride of blogging activity that I wish could happen to everybody at least once! So here’s my very thorough analysis, based on my personal experience, broken down into categories and with graphical images to assist in documenting this event as simply and clearly as possible.

Statistical Bar Graph:

During a Freshly Pressed event:

twin towers

For about a week your statistical bar graph will look very similar to a pre-9/11 Manhattan with a very large spike in the early days.

After a Freshly Pressed event:

Cripple Creek

Your statistical bar graph will once again begin to look like the streetscape of Cripple Creek, CO, trending dramatically downhill.

Hits:

During a Freshly Pressed event:

Pete Rose

Your site will be breaking hit records like the great Pete Rose, who still holds the all-time Major League Baseball record for most hits in a career. Just don’t place any bets on who will be Freshly Pressed next or you might be banned from ever blogging again.

 After a Freshly Pressed event:

bill_bergen

Your daily hits will eventually drop back down to normal levels, somewhere in the statistical neighborhood of Bill Bergen, who during a 10 year Major League Baseball career, compiled a .170 batting average and is often considered the worst hitter in Major League baseball history among position players (non-pitchers).

Subscriptions:

During a Freshly Pressed event:

Wall Street Journal

Your subscriptions and stature will grow to levels comparable to the world renowned newspaper, The Wall Street Journal.

Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration.

Weekly World News

Perhaps more like the Weekly World News. That’s probably closer to the writing skills and stature most of us possess anyhow.

After a Freshly Pressed event:

Alright… look… let’s be frank…

Times Brownsville Oregon

You’ll still only have about as many readers as this local newspaper whose lead stories on Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013 had something to do with a grain elevator and a cat.

Comments:

During a Freshly Pressed event:

bieber

When your post hits the front page you’ll have commenters reaching out to you like the screaming girls at a Justin Beiber concert.

 After a Freshly Pressed event:

Crickets

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