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- Tales of the Road - 1/44 -

[Illustration: "He is the steam--and a big part of the engine too-- that makes business move"]





Dedicated to Alex C. Ritchey, Salesman. the Author's Friend.


I The square deal wins II Clerks, cranks and touches III Social arts as salesmen's assets IV Tricks of the trade V The helping hand VI How to get on the road VII First experiences in selling VIII Tactics in selling--I IX Tactics in selling--II X Tactics in selling--III XI Cutting prices XII Canceled orders XIII Concerning credit men XIV Winning the customer's good will XV Salesmen's don'ts XVI Merchants the salesman meets XVII Hiring and handling salesmen XVIII Hearts behind the order book


He is the steam--and a big part of the engine too--that makes business move

Larry let business drop entirely and danced a jig

"Whenever I let go the buggy handle the baby yelled"

"Tonight we dance, tomorrow we sell clothes again" "I listened to episodes in the lives of all those seven children"

"I braced the old man--It wasn't exactly a freeze but there was a lot of frost in the air"

"You ought to have seen his place"

"My stomach was beginning to gnaw, but I didn't dare go out"

"In big headlines I read 'Great Fire in Chicago'"

"Well, Woody," said he, "You seem to be taking things pretty easy"

"You'd better write that down with a pencil" said Harry

"Shure, that cigare is a birrd"

"He came in with his before breakfast grouch" "I'm treed" said the drayman. "They're as heavy as lead"

"What explanation have you to make of this, sir?"

"He tried to jolly her along, but she was wise"

The author wishes to acknowledge his special debt of gratitude to the SATURDAY EVENING POST, of Philadelphia.



Salesmanship is the business of the world; it is about all there is to the world of business. Enter the door of a successful wholesale or manufacturing house and you stand upon the threshold of an establishment represented by first-class salesmen. They are the steam --and a big part of the engine, too--that makes business move.

I saw in print, the other day, the statement that salesmanship is the "fourth profession." It is not; it is the first. The salesman, when he starts out to "get there," must turn more sharp corners, "duck" through more alleys and face more cold, stiff winds than any kind of worker I know. He must think quickly, yet use judgment; he must act quickly and still have on hand a rich store of patience; he must work hard, and often long. He must coax one minute and "stand pat" the next. He must persuade--persuade the man he approaches that he needs _his_ goods and make him buy them--yes, _make_ him. He is messenger boy, train dispatcher, department buyer, credit man, actor, lawyer and politician--all under one hat!

By "salesman" I do not mean the man who stands behind the counter and lets the customer who comes to him and wants to buy a necktie slip away because the spots on the silk are blue instead of green; nor do I mean the man who wraps up a collar, size 16, and calls "cash;" I mean the man who takes his grip or sample trunks and goes to hunt his customer--the traveling salesman. Certainly there are salesmen _behind_ the counter, and he has much in common with the man on the road.

To the position of traveling salesman attach independence, dignity, opportunity, substantial reward. Many of the tribe do not appreciate this; those do so best who in time try the "professional life." When they do they usually go back to the road happy to get there again. Yet were they permanently to adopt a profession--say the law--they would make better lawyers because they had been traveling men. Were many professional men to try the road, they would go back to their first occupation because forced to. The traveling man can tell you why! I bought, a few days ago, a plaything for my small boy. What do you suppose it was? A toy train. I wish him to get used to it--for when he grows up I am going to put him on the road hustling trunks.

My boy will have a better chance for success at this than at anything else. If he has the right sort of stuff in him he will soon lay the foundation for a life success; if he hasn't I'll soon find it out. As a traveling salesman he will succeed quickly or not at all. In the latter event, I'll set him to studying a profession. When he goes on the road he may save a great part of his salary, for the firm he will represent will pay his living expenses while traveling for them. He will also have many leisure hours, and even months, in which to study for a profession if he chooses; or, if he will, he may spend his "out of season" months in foreign travel or any phase of intellectual culture--and he will have the money _of his own earning_ with which to do it. Three to six or eight months is as much time as most traveling men can profitably give to selling goods on the road; the rest is theirs to use as they please.

Every man who goes on the road does not succeed--not by any means. The road is no place for drones; there are a great many drops of the honey of commerce waiting in the apple blossoms along the road, but it takes the busy "worker" bee to get it. The capable salesman may achieve great success, not only on the road, but in any kind of activity. "The road" is a great training school. The chairman of the Transportation Committee in the Chicago city council, only a few years ago was a traveling man. He studied law daily and went into politics while he yet drew the largest salary of any man in his house. Marshall Field was once a traveling man; John W. Gates sold barbed wire before he became a steel king. These three men are merely types of successful traveling men.

Nineteen years ago, a boy of 15, I quit picking worms off of tobacco plants and began to work in a wholesale house, in St. Louis, at $5 per week--and I had an even start with nearly every man ever connected with the firm. The president of the firm today, now also a bank president and worth a million dollars, was formerly a traveling man; the old vice-president of the house, who is now the head of another firm in the same line, used to be a traveling man; the present vice- president and the president's son-in-law was a traveling man when I went with the firm; one of the directors, who went with the house since I did, is a traveling man. Another who traveled for this firm is today a vice-president of a large wholesale dry goods house; one more saved enough to go recently into the wholesale business for himself. Out of the lot six married daughters of wealthy parents, and thirty or more, who keep on traveling, earn by six months or less of road work, from $1200 to $6000 each year. One has done, during his period of rest, what every one of his fellow salesmen had the chance to do--take a degree from a great university, obtain a license (which he cannot afford to use) to practice law, to learn to read, write and speak with ease two foreign languages and get a smattering of three others, and to travel over a large part of the world.

Of all the men in the office and stock departments of this firm only two of them have got beyond $25 a week; and both of them have been drudges. One has moved up from slave-bookkeeper to credit-man slave and partner. The other has become a buyer. And even he as well as being a stock man was a city salesman.

Just last night I met, on leaving the street car, an old school boy friend who told me that he was soon going to try his hand on the road selling bonds. He asked me if I could give him any pointers. I said: "Work and be square--never come down on a price; make the price right in the beginning." "Oh, I don't know about that," said he. I slapped him on the breast and answered: "I do!"

I would give every traveling man, every business man, _every man_ this same advice. Say what you will, a square deal is the only thing

Tales of the Road - 1/44

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