Sunday, November 25, 2012

One Awesome Sales Experience from the Seventies

Is it just me or does every Thanksgiving always bring back memories from times gone by?

Today while running errands I remembered a few of my first introductions into sales, at the time I didn't think it was anything more than doing my job.

While working at Green Farms produce company in Iselin, NJ in the mid seventies I distinctly remember waiting on one of our wholesale accounts.  One day I was waiting on Larry and he asked for something like 40 bags of corn.  In order to get the corn, I had to go to the reefer and unload them by hand and put them on a pallet.  When I was done getting the forty bags of corn, Larry pulled off the top bag tore it open and then pulled out 6 or so ears of corn.  He then ripped off the husk and stated "What are you trying to do, this corn is all dried out, I don't want this crap, go get Sonny (Sonny was my boss and the owner)".  Larry was pissed (but Larry was playing his own game) and I thought, dam this all I needed that I know had to get Sonny involved. 

I told Sonny how mad Larry was and Sonny (he was big guy, not fat, just BIG) made his way into the warehouse.  As soon as Larry saw him, he proceeded to scream at Sonny, and these words come to mine "what crap are you trying to push off on me"?  Sonny did not speak a word, he went over to the pallet of corn and proceeded to open six bags of corn, one after the other he dumped the entire bag on the floor. When he was done he asked Larry something to the effect, "Whats wrong the corn"? Larry replied "it's dried out and I can't sell that"! Sonny then stated told Larry to show me the dried out corn, with that Larry went over to the piles of corn and proceeded to open up 6 or more ears of corn.  Every ear he opened was perfect, like it had just been picked.  Sonny then asked Larry "Do you want the corn of not, if not get the hell out of here". Larry bought all 40 bags of corn and went on his way. Larry never questioned any of the produce from that point on that he bought from Sonny.  I was left to pick up the 6 bags of corn, and load the rest in Larry's van.

Later that day Sonny came  over to me and explained why he dumped the corn on the ground, it was because when he emptied the bag, the top of the bag that had the dried out corn was now at the bottom of the pile and the corn that was cool, moist and not dried out was at the top of the pile. Thus Larry would never have pulled out a dried ear of corn. At 17 years old I was impressed.

As I look back, no one was trying to dupe Larry, the corn had nothing wrong with it, except that the top few years of corn had dried out because it was on the top of the bag.  What I did understand is that Sonny knew his business, and he knew how to present his product. As unorthodox as the unbagging of the corn was Sonny knew what the outcome would be when he asked Larry to show him the dried out corn.

This experience with a customer that was looking to negotiate a better price and where a negative was turned into a positive has stuck with me through out the years. 

I wanted to tell this story because sometimes we as experienced sales people tend to over think the sales process.  We can get caught up in the whole price game and only person who wins on price is the manufacturer and the end user.  The sales person and the dealership lose and we lose big.  When Sonny dumped the corn on the floor, it showed Larry that the corn had value (it was good corn), and thus Larry was not able negotiate the price down because of a few bad ears here and there.

Thus, when a customer asks for a better or reduced price we need to go back and show the value that we bring to the table and stick to our price.

-=Good Selling=-

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