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[Leonce J. Collins]

The Salesman Ship


To You Vol Martin: Thanks for the "Salesman Ship"

First I must give credit to Vol Martin who worked for the Dr Pepper Company in Dallas, Texas for 40 plus years. Spending his last few years as a spokesman and motivation speaker for the Dr Pepper Company. One of Vol Martin's Dog & Pony show was talking about the Salesman Ship. Vol Martin found the picture of the beautiful sailing ship, with all its many magnificent sails, in the foyer of a old hotel in Salt Lake City, Utah. He received permission to copyright the picture and add the name "Salesman Ship" to the bottom of the picture. He went on to develop a sales talk about Dr Pepper and the "Salesman Ship". I did changed it somewhat to reflect that the "Salesman Ship" is about you and you learning how to sell and market yourself to the world. Vol Martin is truly a Salesman Ship.

I've given this salesmanship talk at Mississippi State University to the Marketing fraternity a number of times and have given away many pictures of the ship to many MSU students. I hope you enjoy reading this. Go FLY YOUR SHIP. Now to finally get to talk about you. We are always selling something and selling ourselves most of the time. First I would like to start by saying " thanks for taking the time to be here". I know that by the end of this cruise that you will be able to market and sell yourself to the world. Remember that marketing is having what you can get rid of and selling is getting rid of what you have. Have a winning attitude, because the only advantage of losing is that you don't have to thank as many people for their support. You must plan to be successful by design not by default. Now I am ready to start with my Dog & Pony show - ENJOY:

Picture a large and beautiful sailing ship, with all its many magnificent sails with each of the sails as important and necessary to sail the world and reach any port destination. The sails are the driving power of the ship and you are the ship and the ship is you. Whether you work for a company or not, the bottom line is you work for yourself. Remember it is only going through rough seas that provides the opportunities to become a great Captain of a ship. What type of sails do you want on your ship and how strong are your sails. You will constantly have to repair every sail of the ship as you travel the rough seas of life.

Sail # 1: PRIDE

How do you feel about yourself or when someone calls your name. Up at the top of the ship is a sail with PRIDE written all over it. Pride shows in the way you walk, talk and the attitude you have about yourself. An old axiom: If the mind is right the rear will follow.


Is it just a job? If it's just a job then do the best you can. Be the best student, the best floor sweeper, the best quarterback, the best person you can be at whatever you do. It is more important that you know if you did your best. Create this huge imaginary rubber stamp with your name on it and do what the artist or the author of a book does. The artist and the author can show to the world their works by their signature. You can also by using your imaginary rubber stamp. Step back, look at your work during the day or at the end of the day, take your imaginary rubber stamp and stamp your seal of approval on your work as many times as you want. It's you and if you did good work it warrant a seal of approval of your name. Your ability to perform like an education is your best security, it can never be taken away from you.


Dreams and our imagination are made to achieve and build mental images. Be the Walt Disney in your home and in your work. Children are the best at this. Use your imagination to keep your green light on at all times. Here is a story about someone using a little imagination. A local Barber who was in business for 30 years saw a new Barber move into town across the street. The next morning to his surprise saw a BANNER across the street. The banner read "New Wave Hair cuts $6.00". Since the old Barber was charging $12.00 he had some concerns. His imagination went to work, turned on his green light and starting working to combat this new rival. He went to bed that night knowing that he would find the answer. The next day he placed a larger BANNER outside his shop. The banner read "We fix $6.00 Haircuts". The local Barber lived happily ever after.

Sail # 4: COURTESY

Get in a habit of saying Hello, Good Morning, Thank You, I appreciate your business and return calls. If you can't be nice to people on your way up they will not be nice to you on your way down.


Holding to high standards in your performance. Forcing yourself to improve and to do the things that are right. Making yourself do the things you don't want to do, but doing them anyway. Quitting is a habit, start a no quitting habit. Learn how to become a super achiever not an over survivor. Get into a growth mode not a maintenance mode. Learn to balance on top of the roof and stop trying to hang on by the gutters.

Sail # 6: HONESTY

Honesty is the equity in yourself, knowing that you are trustworthy is a asset. Honesty is very seldom discussed. It's the mark of a true professional. Be honest to yourself and to everyone else.

Sail # 7: FAITH

Faith as it applies to your work:

The ability to believe in yourself as much as others do. There is a famous quotation that says "What you conceive and believe you will achieve".

Faith as it applies to you:

Dr Mender says that you need only four things to accomplish true happiness:






To continue to try and keep on trying in the face of repeated turndowns. When you know you are on the right track, keep on going. The difference between accepting turndowns or to keep on trying is success.

Sail # 9: COURAGE

Stand your ground and make those tough decisions only you can make. When you know you're right make that decision and do it. It's easier to apologize afterwards than to get permission up front.


Put you best foot forward. It's like ice-cream on a cake. Showmanship is selling the sizzle and not the steak. Showmanship is adding color to your life.


Get to know yourself, know your weakness and your strengths. Know your benefits and your features. You are a very unique person, there is no one else like you. The bottom line is when you place your benefits and your features on the table for others to view what gives you the advantage to get the job over someone else. That is what you must be selling.


Foots Clement past President of the Dr Pepper Company has a great quotation "Know that you can find success under the condition as they are".

You must have confidence in yourself to be successful. Knowing your capabilities gives you the confidence in yourself. Always remember to keep your sanity. The only difference between the sane and the insane is the ability to cope with life.


One thing you need to remember about organization is self organization. Remember the 6-"P's".


Plan your work and work you plan. Budget your time like money.


Do you have it, if not get it. To receive it all you have to do is take Vitamin "A" Attitude & Vitamin "E" Enthusiasm. You can tell when someone has a good attitude and has enthusiasm.

Some people can make people feel good when they walk into a room and some people can make people feel better when they walk out of the room.

How do you make people feel when you walk into the room?

Get into that PAM mode by having a Positive Mental Attitude. Make your happy tomorrow's by the things you do today. Always have a positive vision of what you want. Because even if things don't turn out the way you wanted at least you can say that you enjoyed the trip. If you do have a problem there are two things you can do.

First when you have a problem it's only temporary.

Second if it's permanent you can learn to adjust to the problem.,

Now that you have solved all your obstacle, get on with your life.


This is the quality of giving your all out efforts to be totally committed to whatever you do. Give it that all out effort. When the going gets tough the tough gets going. Keep asking yourself the question "How committed am I".

Are you a dedicated or a committed person. This is the same as asking are you an Egg or a Bacon person

Remember that the Chicken is dedicated by producing eggs but the Pig is committed by producing Bacon.

Sail # 16: SERVICE

This is the quality of being valuable. Many promotion were earned due to services one person accomplished that was beyond the call of duty. Also remember that if you do the job right you only have to do it once.


Looking sharp outside and feeling good on the inside with a smile.

Sail # 18: DESIRE

You got to want to -. Desire comes from being hungry for a goal. It's the fuel that gets your engine started.

Sail # 19: GOALS

Goals are what we want, they are like touchdowns. Success is a by-product of many goals. Success is a process because it's never ending.


The most important thing about motivation is you must learn to start your own engine. Teach people to motivate themselves by setting the tone and the condition for self motivation. You can play a big part in self motivation and motivation is contagious. If you don't remember anything about motivation remember this

Every morning in Africa, a Gazelle wakes up knowing that it must run faster than the fastest Lion or it will be killed.

Every morning a Lion wakes up knowing that it must run faster than the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death

It doesn't matter whether you are a Gazelle or a Lion, when you get up in the morning you better be running.


Once you have completed all your sails you are ready to mount them on your ship to complete your personality. Personality is that warm feeling inside of you that warms other people. A good personality help you make a good first impression because you never get a second chance to make a first impression. Now that you have completed your ship you are ready to sail to any destination. At all cost avoid a shipwreck and fly your ship.

Now that I have completed the story remember that the ship is you. I must add also that HUMOR is a powerful tool in coping with life and communicating with people. Maintain good humor by being able at laughing at yourself. But having all the proper equipment to sail the rough seas of life will not enhance your life if you don't leave the port.

A philosopher has said that it is not so much a matter of what we have as what we do with what we have that makes a difference in this world. You can make a difference Let me give you an example.

Longfellow could take a worthless piece of paper, write a poem on it and make it worth thousand, that genius. Rockefeller could sign his name to a piece of paper and make it worth millions, that's capital. Uncle Sam can take paper, stamp an emblem on it and make it worth a dollar, that's money. A machinist can take a $5.00 piece of metal and make it worth $5,000.00, that's skill. An artist can take a $1.50 piece of canvas, paint a picture and make it worth $10,000, that's art. A person can take the world with all it's problem and opportunities, solve the problems, and take advantage of those opportunities and make the place a better place to live, that's you.

Your ship can fly high.


This article will make you feel good about your chosen sales profession. - Breck Speed  

April 26, 2009

Everybody’s Business

The Sales Profession: Attention Must Still Be Paid


ASIDE from some gardening and baby-sitting in my neighborhood when I was a child, my first summer job was in the summer of 1962, just before my first year of college. It was at Shoe Giant, a large discount shoe store in Langley Park, in Prince George’s County of Maryland, and I got the job thanks to a high school pal who also worked there.

The job entailed selling shoes. The shoes were tossed about in giant bins and some were stored in boxes. Once the customers had picked out the kind of shoes they wanted, my task was to find the right size, close the sale, write up a receipt with my sales clerk number on it and escort the customer to the cashier. (A pair of shoes there was rarely more than $10 — and was often less.)

I made not much more than a dollar an hour, as well as a small commission. I recall that my first week’s paycheck was about $70.

I did not stay at that job for long. Later that summer, my mother found me a job at the Civil Service Commission, where I sat at a desk and added numbers on an ancient Marchant machine with a crank, to find Civil Service health insurance payment data for various kinds of injuries and sicknesses. I hated that job, but I did it anyway. I missed Shoe Giant. I missed the drama of selling.

Even after all these years, and after many other jobs, my mind often returns to my brief stint as a shoe salesman. It was then, amid that tangle of sandals, sneakers, oxfords, high heels and brogans, that I discovered the ballet that is sales. Forever after, I have had a deep respect for selling and for salesmen and saleswomen.

Sales — when done right — is more than a job. It is an art. It is a high-wire act. It is, as Arthur Miller immortally said, being out there “on a smile and a shoe shine.” It is learning the product you are selling, learning it so well that you can describe it while doing a pirouette of smiles for the customer and talking about the latest football scores. It is knowing human nature so well that you can align the attributes of your product or service cleanly with the needs and wants of your customers.

At its best, selling is taking a doubt and turning it, jujitsu style, into a powerful push. Selling is making the customer feel better about spending money — or investing it — than he would have felt by keeping his wallet zipped.

I have special memories of people who have sold brilliantly.

In 1976, when I moved to Los Angeles, I desperately wanted a Mercedes 450 SLC, a car that was — even in used form — far more than I deserved or could afford at my entry-level, highly tenuous work as a scriptwriter. My salesman at Mercedes-Benz of Beverly Hills, Larry Anish, listened to my objections and simply asked, “Don’t you believe in your own future?” Of course, I bought the car.

Many years later, an insurance broker came to call on my wife about disability insurance. I scoffed at him and told him how incredibly unlikely it was that a healthy woman like my wife would ever be disabled. “Yes,” he said. “That’s what we think, too. That’s why it’s so cheap and pays so much if she does get disabled.”

I bought the policy, and when my wife did get temporarily disabled, it paid off magnificently and we needed it.

When in doubt about any aspect of human interaction, I always consult the best salesman I have ever known, Barron Thomas, real estate and airplane salesman extraordinaire, and occasional writer, who could sell oil to the Saudis.

In particular, I’ve come to love insurance sales representatives. After many years of skepticism, and despite many warnings from consumer “experts,” I have come to believe that you can rarely have too much insurance, and that whatever insurance you don’t have is exactly what you will wind up needing. The fact that so many people in insurance sell you what’s good for you, even when smart alecks are telling you not to buy it, makes their work extremely impressive. I wish I had paid more attention to them.

People who work in sales often sit next to me on airplanes, which are my true home. In “Death of a Salesman,” Arthur Miller also wrote: “A salesman is got to dream, boy. It comes with the territory.” Those who are in sales are always aware that the next sale is behind the next door, and they are always great companions. They are where the rubber of production meets the road of consumption, whether in a showroom or a studio or on the phone or calling you at home. When the recovery starts, they will be the ones making purchases happen.

Lawyers and doctors and dentists and politicians and accountants and actors — all of us sell something, every day and every time we meet someone. For me, it all goes back to Shoe Giant, 47 years ago, and I wish that every 17-year-old I know could have that experience. It takes some ability at sales to believe in your own future, no matter what that future may be.

Ben Stein is a lawyer, writer, actor and economist. E-mail:


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