Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Friday 5th March 1937

Up 7:15, The Bell 8:35. Mr Markham was again giving the “low down” to the outfit.
Clementi and Barber, the two Lancashire men, keep rather aloof from the rest. They are Kilverts men, not Sales Promotion.

Went out with “Toothless” Tom Holland today. Quiet but one of the best salesmen – until recently he worked in a West End china shop but nevertheless has not led an exactly cloistered existence. He told me of hectic trips to Leipzig, Dresden and Paris. We went to Walsall, on recalls. Holland’s car will not start without stimulation. Whitehead tried to give him a chance by dragging the car along – with a piece of string as a tow rope. This did not work but, eventually, Holland got under way with Whitehead’s car pushing his, front fender against rear fender.

Jimmy Rigg said I must do my solo today. “Sure to be all sorts of funny little voices going on inside you, but go in and remember, - “I want,” or “I wonder”.

Spent the morning on recalls. Lunch in a low-down café. Tom had to borrow five shillings from me for petrol! He was not able to get any repeat orders but was well received everywhere. Curly Tail was selling slowly. In the midst of a picturesque story of Paris, he drew up outside a grocers shop. “Go in here and see if he wants any more Curly Tail.” I went in, feeling like a perfect fool, and received a grumble about slow sales. The next call was a multiple store. Curly Tail selling well and some more on order.

My next lesson was a “cold canvas”, i.e. an attempt to sell where the prospect has not been approached before. A new shop. Stayed in there about 10 minutes, trying to convince the lady that she could sell Curly Tail if she bought some. Not nervous but I felt too hesitant and without a good “story”.

My forth and last call was a brief one. The shop man was a brusque, jovial individual. He brandished a huge knife as I entered, “Where do you want it?” “Across the throat. I represent Kilverts…” “Yes. Good stuff. Come back on Monday or Tuesday. Don’t see travellers on Fridays!” My high-pressure career was nearly over.

Back to The Bell, to witness the usual breaking-up comedy, with each man trying to borrow some money for petrol. Everyone was very sharp witted as the accounts were settled, hoping to twist someone else.

After tea I caught the 6:20 train for Euston.


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