This week I decided to take a break from the Farm to Shelves series to discuss the happenings of June 4, 2011. It was an exciting day in which I was unexpectedly launched from the degrading life of a salesboy, to the fast-paced, sexy life of a salesman (I had to order new business cards accordingly). It all started the Monday of May 30…
It was a typical humid morning in Houston Texas. I pulled up to the office and strode into work, much like I do every day, with coffee in hand and looking casual.
I walked into my office and noticed a note from Paul on my desk, letting me know I should see him as soon as I get in. Little did I know, that hastily written note would change my life forever. I strolled a few feet over to Paul’s office where he sat behind a large desk. He appeared to be on the phone and he put up his index finger to let me know to keep my mouth shut accordingly.
“No, no, no you can bench-press more, Ben Affleck.” Paul shot a quick glance at me to see if that name drop registered. “Alright dude, lets hang out this weekend. Again.” A woman’s voice came from the receiver, “The number you have dialed is not available. Hang up and try agai-“. Paul slammed the receiver down.
“What can I help you with?” he asked spinning his chair in my direction.
“I got your note.” I replied holding up the loose piece of toilet paper upon which it had been written.
“Ah yes, take a seat”
I sat in the leather bound chair directly in front of his desk.
“Yeaah, so I’m gonna need you to come in on Saturday to a demo we’re doing at FRESH, our retailer in Tyler Texas.”
“Where’s that?” I asked, sinking into the fine leather.
“About an hour outside of Dallas.”
“Dallas! You mean like Dallas “the cultural hub of the Dallas/Fort Worth area”, Dallas?!”
“Yes, but it’s not in Dall-“
“I’m in.” I said standing up and walking out of his office before he could tell me otherwise.
So after the longest week of my life, the day finally came that I got to go to Dallas.
When I arrived at the store I couldn’t believe my eyes. FRESH by Brookshires is possibly the largest grocery store I have ever seen. It looks like the glorious aftermath of a Super Dome/Whole Foods chicken fight. They had live music, an outside café, and I think I saw a monorail but it could have been a shopping cart. I entered this Mecca of foodstuff and found Paul who had set up a table lined with samples of our chips.
“There you are” He said as I approached, “Now stand in front of this table and hand these out to everyone.”
“Wait, wha-“ I tried to ask, but Paul had already sidled down an adjacent aisle and disappeared from sight.
Before I could catch my bearings, a kindly old woman with bright red hair wondered up to the table.
“What do you have here?” She asked in a kindly old manner.
“Uh, chips? Pffft” I replied youthfully to the woman who now seemed annoyed by my response. A few awkward seconds went by as she continued to stand there staring at me. In those few seconds, I came to the realization that I was supposed to be selling these chips, not simply stating what they are.
So there it was: the breathtaking, once in a lifetime moment that changed my title forever. I was now a salesman. Admittedly, I wasn’t that great at first but you have to understand it was a trial and error process. For instance, yelling is a no-no.
But after a while, I figured out that if I just handed a sample to the customer and let them try it, I usually made a sale.
People really seemed to enjoy our chips and take genuine interest in what made them unique. This took me by surprise as every time I’ve received a free sample I’ve shoved it in my face and never given it a second thought. This wasn’t the case for the customers at FRESH. Several times I even had small crowds gathered around me while I explained what our chips were. Previous customers made sure to come tell us how much they enjoyed our chips and new customers expressed their interest and excitement in our brand. Droves of women threw themselves at my feet and boisterously thanked the heavens that such a titan of the snack industry had been sent into their humble presence. Ok that last one isn’t true but they implied it pretty heavily judging by how our chips flew off the shelves. The bottom line is anyone can be an awesome salesman if the product they are selling is good. If people like what I’m handing out then my job is complete and I can be essentially replaced by a sturdy shelf with a sign. But don’t tell my bosses that; I’ve got a good thing going here.
As Always, Stay Hungry,