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DeWese?Basic Selling Skill Characteristics

February 1998
My pal, Warren "Jaydee" Thornton, and I were having lunch at Little Bit's Barbecue just north of Sheffield, AL, back in November. I'd gone down for the grand opening of the new North Alabama Manauqua Casino, the newest of the Indian reservation casinos to open.

Jaydee, you will recall, is the proud owner and president of Jaydee's Lithographic Printing. He's partial to Little Bit's chopped pork, and I could die for the all-you-can-eat dinner of fried catfish. I was about two bites away from a powerful need for seven Tums when Jaydee brought up his latest salesperson disaster.

You regular readers will recall that Jaydee was the one who first hired Marvelle Stump and gave him his start in the great world of graphic arts sales. Marvelle has moved on to many companies since his inaugural stint at Jaydee's place and is the only salesperson in North America whose total commission draw money exceeds his actual sales. Over 13 years, Marvelle has collected $487,766 in draws against commission and has sold $163,212 in actual jobs—if you count the $53,907 for jobs where the customers never paid.

Well, ol' Jaydee is just about my most opinionated friend. He is also the world's greatest "one-upper." I actually hate one-upping more than any other behavioral malady, but Jaydee does it so much that it's funny. A one-upper incidentally is someone who reminds you constantly how well his son is doing at Harvard. These folks make it especially heavy when you've said something like, "My son was just arrested on campus for walking under the influence and indecent exposure."

At these times, the worst one-upper will say something like, "Well, my son is the starting quarterback for the Alabama Crimson Tide and ever'body says he's a shoo-in for the Heisman Trophy. He's going to be drafted by the 'Niners and sign for about $10 million—and he's still got a 4.0 grade point average."

Jaydee has absolutely no sense of his own inadequacies and never takes blame for anything. He does, however, take credit for everything. So far, beginning with Marvelle, Jaydee has never hired a salesperson you could characterize as "successful" or who stayed more than 17 months. The roster of ex-salespeople includes a father-in-law, two brothers-in-law, a former salesman of used mobile homes, a bartender and two "exotic" dancers he met on a business trip to Birmingham.

So, Jaydee, wiping barbecue sauce off his moustache, began to whine about "lousy" salespeople. He said, "You just cain't find 'em where they's worth a damn. They say they'll work, and then they don't hit a lick. In my book, give me a good man who can talk 'Bama football and hold his likker, and I'll show you a great print salesman."


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