THE AGENT'S OPPORTUNITY IS NOW.
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Why, and How to, Increase Sales of Commercial Vehicles "According to Plan."
ABOLT half the trade depression, which, happily, now seems to be passing away, was caused by the throwing up of the sponge by sellers in all divisions of commerce directly demand slackened off after the late deplorable "boom."The spirit of " what's-the-usenessr that instantly swept through the selling army when the battle ceased to run in their favour, precipitated a calamity which, whilst it, was bound to happen in any event., might easily have been robbed of its direst effects had the producing and distributing side of the community accepted warnings, and had they prepared to meet the shock of the engagement by counter-attacking
• With well trained salesmanship. Instead of clothg that, they spiked their advertising, and turned and fled, so leaving their provisions in the hands of the enemy, who have been sharing out the loot with great joy during the past year or two. • . The truth of the matter is that, towards the end of the boom, the captains and the men of the until then victorious army had become so bloated with apparent success, and so filled with the idea of their own invincibility, that they mistook the chance good luck of a favourable position for the result of their own strategy.Officers were selected for their power to talk in millions, and such old-fashioned arts as the planning of sales and advertising campaigns ceased to be regarded as of any account in the_new condition of things. Of course, the inevitable came to pass; and when the whole host of manufacturers and distributors fell bang into the .ambush that had been staring them in the face for months (if only they had had eyes for anything but the spoils of their march), the few who could have shown them 'i how to fall back in order were submerged in the. rush of a violent retreat.
The Position of Salesmanship in Commerce.
Losses have been heavy—heavier than they need have been; but, fortunately, the retreat appears by all visible signs, to have ceased. We do not yet know the full toll of the dead and missing, nor how many firms who looked so grand in their boom uniforms will shortly die of their. wounds; but, whichever way we look, the indications of a renewed and altogether saner forward progress are plain. From the speeches by chairmen of business and banking undertakings, it has been made evident that, on all hands, there has come an appreciation of the needs of the day—a sounder knowledge of economic law on the part. of the rank and file, and the exaltation of salesmanship to a foremost place in commerce.
All this is by way of general preamble to the case of the agent for commercial vehicles, who has been having anything but a, happy time of late. One sympathises with him ; at least, I do, seeing that his troubles are mine, too. For a long while, for instance, he ha a been worried by an unending stream of reconditioned vehicles that have passed out of the service of the Government into tfie garages of people who, so he has told himself, ought to have been hiscustomers. For a long while . . but why go into his causes for depression ? There is nothing new or distinctive about them ; in one shape or another the commercial vehicle distributor's peoblenis have been common to nearly every other industry in this country ; besides, the sympathy that begins and ends with refreshing a man's mind about his woes is not the genuine kind. Give salesmanship its rightful place! That is what the agent who finds business out of joint, must do c44
if he wants, and means, to justify his place inthe world. Salesmanship does not mean merely the cultivation of a plausible tongue. It does not mean just persuading a. b,uyer to buy from you. It means something much larger, wider, and -more precise, and embraces all that has to be done, from creating a desire to buy, to keeping the buyer's goodwill
Follow a Definite Plan of Campaign.
To net in the maximum possible number of orders from his district, an agent must lay down a plan of campaign and follow it systematically. Spasmodic advertising, between periods of pacing the showroom while waiting for chanee customers to call, is useless, or nearly so. Without adopting American principles of aggressive salesmanship, which do not go down here, it really is possible to bring in orders that would otherwise not mature perhaps for years, if they matured at all. How many agents have even taken the trouble to assess, in the most sketchy fashion, the quantity of orders that they might reasonably expect their districts to yield, supposing every " prospect " to have the money for buying, and assuming themselves to be ideal salesmen? Not many, I will warrant; and yet an assessment of this kind is, to my mind, essential to the mapping out of a sales scheme. A revival of all trade is as sure to follow the " slump " as day is sure to follow night. Political or other events may keep it back for a time longer ; but, short of the arrival of a revolution, it must come soon. Now is the commercial vehicle agent's opportunity to compose his plans and to set them in motion. The greater the care with which they aro prepared, the more certain will be his share in the revival, and the more conscientiously they are adhered to, the sooner will the trade revival come to his special little corner of the industrial organization. 'With the Editor's permission, I will, later on, give a few suggestions formed out of practical experience for planning a sales campaign.