Tag Archives: sales

How are Ducks like Salespeople?

How are Ducks like Salespeople?
I really don’t think they are.
They don’t have much in common.
Except when they’re driving a car.

How are Ducks like Lawyers?
I really don’t think they are.
They don’t have much in common.
Except when they’re taking the Bar.

How are Ducks like Policemen?
I really don’t think they are.
They don’t have much in common.
Except when they’re using radar.

How are Ducks like Tourists?
I really don’t think they are.
They don’t have much in common.
Except when they’re traveling far.

How are Ducks like Golfers?
I really don’t think they are.
They don’t have much in common.
Except when they’re scoring a par.

How are Ducks like Road Workers?
I really don’t think they are.
They don’t have much in common.
Except when they’re leveling tar.

Lest you think I am drunk, the title of this post was a search term today. Apparently my site will now attract people interested in ducks… and salespeople… and duck salespeople… and salesducks. I wondered if the searcher was a salesperson who was acting like a duck or a duck acting like a salesperson. Maybe its a salesperson trying to get his ducks in a row. Maybe he or she should listen to my song. Maybe I am over thinking this.

So, how are ducks like salespeople? Please give me your detailed analysis. Careful now, I am a salesperson, so be nice. Or better yet, how are ducks like whatever you do for a living? Or better yet, how is any animal like what you do for a living? That could make for some great discussion.

Leave me a comment. Or don’t. This isn’t Rocket Science going on in this post. Or leave me a comment on how Ducks are like Rocket Scientists. Or how ducks are like Brain Surgeons.

Or go jump in a lake… whatever…

Quack, quack!


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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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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!


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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Yeah, you’d be good at that!

The business where I work has been sold.  For those that don’t know, I have spent the last 18 years working for my uncle in a family retail business, a college bookstore that served a major university.  It’s been a good gig, but the textbook business (as well as the book business in general) has been shrinking considerably over the last seven or eight years due to internet competition, rental websites and digital course materials.  We made a mutual decision a couple of years ago that the time was right to get out and ultimately we believe it was a good decision.  He can retire and I can…..

Well, unfortunately I cannot retire… and as much fun as it sounds to sit around and blog all day, I am pretty confident that will not pay my mortgage or allow me to purchase shoes for my kids. I will be employed through the end of October, at which point the business will close down. I have an opportunity to work with a friend of mine, a collegiate apparel sales rep who has called on our store for many years and who I have known almost since day one.  Although any change is scary, it’s a good opportunity and I will be happy to get off a retail floor as it has beat me up over the years.

That’s not really what I’m here to talk about though, but I thought it was important to share that news with all of you.   What I’ve noticed is that when you are in a situation where you are switching jobs, people are of course inquisitive and the conversation inevitably goes like this

Nosy person: So what are you going to do?

Me: Well I have this opportunity, blah, blah, blah…

Nosy Person: Yeah, you’d be good at that!

That’s great and I’m glad people think I’ll be “good at that”. But I’m starting to wonder if people really believe it or if they would just say that no matter what I said I was going to do. They don’t really ever comment on why they think I’d be “good at that.” It seems to be just a blanket statement of reassurance.

But what if I said this:

Nosy person: So what are you going to do?

Me: Well I have this opportunity with this Rocket Scientist I know. You know, now that the space shuttle program is being shut down, they need people to design the next vehicles that will take us into space. I shot a model rocket once so, you know, I thought it might work out.

Nosy Person: Yeah, you’d be good at that!

Or what if I said this:

Nosy person: So what are you going to do?

Me: Well I was thinking I’d send my resume to Apple. You know, with Steve Jobs stepping down, they probably need some help over there in California. I don’t use any Apple products, but I do have a couple of Apple trees in my yard so, you know, I thought it might work out.

Nosy Person: Yeah, you’d be good at that!

Or perhaps this:

Nosy person: So what are you going to do?

Me: Well I have this opportunity with this guy I know, he works for the carnival and they need someone to run the Frog Launch Game. Since my college degree is in Biology and I’ve had to dissect a few frogs in my life, and you know, I’m personable, I thought it might work out.

Nosy Person: Yeah, you’d be good at that!

Or maybe this:

Nosy person: So what are you going to do?

Me: Well I’m going to be a goat farmer.  Except not for meat, just for milk, ‘cause there’s no freakin’ way I could ever kill a goat.

Nosy Person: Yeah, you’d DEFINITELY be good at that!


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