Pushing yourself out of a grave . . !


MANY years ago, I worked as a salesman in my dad’s interior decoration company.

Something that I feared and dreaded was to get a call in the morning from dad, that a customer who’s place we were supposed to start that morning had changed his mind.

The first thing that happened, was a feeling of depression, and then suddenly a smile would light my face as I decided it was an opportunity to horn my skills as a salesman.

I would rush to the customers home and it’s there I learnt my first lesson; I had an advantage, because the customer felt bad over what he had done. He would let me into his home, and very politely ask whether I’d like a cup of tea.

Everything in you wanted to throw the tea on his face, but I didn’t, I would say yes, and sit down. He would sit with me, and then I would talk about everything else except the order I’d lost. About his work, his passion for something, and as the tea was being made, the customer slowly started warming up to talking to me.

Then I would tell him, that we respected his decision but also that since I had helped him decide the colours and fabric and furniture, I would still like to help him as he went along with the new contractor.

Immediately I would see uncertainty cloud his face, but I would press on, reminding him about each room, and what to tell the new man, how a particular shade would have to be mixed, and giving him my contact details if he ever needed me to help him out.

Seven times out of ten, the customer would go into his room, talk to his wife and come back to tell me the order was mine again.

What had I done. One, I had not gone down in defeat. Had decided to fight, and then had decided to help without asking for remuneration.

Yes, there has been the occasional order I lost, but I would visit that home or phone that customer and help out, and when they recommended someone to a friend, it was usually our firm.

What a salesman, or anybody in any profession needs to understand is to not give up easily. Go into any cemetery and you’ll find it filled with those who gave up quickly. “What’s that noise?” I ask a gravestone in a graveyard. “There’s a chappy buried over there who we fear is going to come out soon! He hasn’t accepted death!”

Maybe I’ve gone to the other extreme, but we need to be like that in these present covid times if we plan to win. “He’s out!” shout all the graves together and a guy rushes out pumping the air in victory..!

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