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A Retrospective look at selling

By wmadministrator

I just bought an interesting auction lot consisting of two oddball items related to Babe Ruth and, of all things, milk!

One item is a rare 1924 milk salesman’s manual that features Babe Ruth. The manual is loaded with data on milk designed to educate the milk salesman on all he needs to know to master the dairy product for house-to-house (milk route) selling.

In less than one minute after I began reading the sales training manual, I realized this 84-year-old manual was right on the money. They were literally teaching milk salesmen how to milk their customers – but in a quality, value-based, truthful and expert way.

Here is some of the content of the manual:

Manual for Milk Salesman
Salesmanship consists of three things:
1. Knowing your merchandise.
2. Knowing your customer.
3. Knowing yourself.

Salesmanship is rapidly growing in importance because the big problem in industry now is not how to produce merchandise, but how to sell and distribute merchandise.

Salesmanship is one of the biggest jobs in the world. The Doctor has to employ salesmanship methods or he doesn’t do much of a business. The Preacher has to employ salesmanship methods or he will soon be talking to empty benches. The school teacher must be a salesman and sell the pupils on the importance of knowledge, and what it means when coupled with character, or he will be a failure and will soon be looking elsewhere for a job.

An attractive business-getting salesman is a combination of three factors:

1. Neat, clean attractive dress.
2. A healthy body.
3. A combination of certain qualities, such as enthusiasm, honesty, tact, self-command, courtesy, cheerfulness, promptness, memory, sympathy and initiative.

In selling, forget yourself. Self-consciousness spoils a man’s manner. Think not of yourself but of the things you’re trying to impress upon the prospect. Cultivate a pleasing personality and an earnest, confident manner. These qualities combined with the proper degree of enthusiasm and forcefulness command attention, create confidence, and hold interest.

Get it? Other than some gender and syntax, this manual could have been written yesterday. And there is more – 95 pages of ideas and nuances to help the milk salesman of his day sell more milk and retain customers.

They even used third-party endorsements with claims that milk helped make them the success that they were: Babe Ruth (baseball) and Johnny Weismuller (Olympic swimmer, later Tarzan in the movies). They showed kids, dogs, and every possible example of why you’ll be healthier and a better achiever with milk and a scrawny failure without it.

It also talks about the importance of service and how it’s tied to success. The manual gives a formula: QUALITY (excellence of service) plus QUANTITY (the amount of service rendered) plus MODE (manner of conduct in rendering service). Try that today.

It always amazes me that old information is pretty much new. Other than the car, the cell phone, the television, the laptop, and the Internet, things are pretty much the same.