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DeWese--Lessons for the Second Millennium

December 1999
Scores of articles, essays and columns have already been written about the new millennium, the old millennium and the evil-dreaded Y2K catastrophe. You are a reader of this column, and that means you are one erudite dude or dudette, as the case may be. Surveys have proven that the Mañana Man's readers are more enlightened than the readers of, say, George Will, Garrison Keillor or Andy Rooney.

No writer, however, has devoted so much as a sentence to the people, the events or the historic implications of selling in the years ranging from 1000 to 1999. It's as if our selling profession didn't exist for a thousand years.

Moreover, we know that nothing much would have happened if somebody hadn't gotten out there and sold something! Of course, with no ink devoted to selling, there's been nothing written specific to our beloved print sales.

Well, you've guessed it by now. I'm devoting this entire column to sales in the second millennium. I'm going to drag you kickin' and screamin' through a thousand years. When you've finished, I know you will say, "It was worth it. Our forebears in sales have taught us many lessons."

Selling a Religion
We have to start a few years prior to 1000 when, in 987, Vladimir of Russia (back then lots of folks had no last name), the czar, decided the Russians should have a religion. He sent envoys to other countries to study Judaism, Islam and Roman Catholicism. Back then, sending envoys was a big, troublesome deal. There were no Ritz-Carltons and no first-class seats on the camel caravans. Envoys sent to study something could kiss 10 to 20 years goodbye.

Well anyway, Vladimir's envoys returned to say that Judaism was no good because there were too many rules. Islam wouldn't work either because there was no drinking allowed. Vladimir damnsure wasn't giving up his Absolut.

Finally, Vladimir learned that the Pope had called him a lyin', cheatin' sot. So Vladimir invented his own religion and named it Russian Orthodox. He proceeded to sell the religion to his people, enabling him to wet his greedy beak freely in the congregations' tithe offerings.

Now that was selling.

Lesson #1: Vladimir taught us that when you've got no product, make one up.

About this same time, Abu Mansur al-Muwwaffaq wrote a book titled, "Liber fundamentorum pharmacologiae" (that's Latin for "A Book on Drugs"), which classified 600 cures that he'd gathered on trips to Persia and India. The book even contained an elementary discussion of pharmacological theory, and the guys in the FDA were too dumb to challenge him. Unfortunately, there were only 17 ailments that had been discovered, so the book didn't sell very well.


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