How to Use a Little Drama in Your Business

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A smartly dresssed smiling young man came into a New York bank a few days ago.  He marhced up to the desk of a vice-president of the institution and waited.

“What can we do for you?”  the executive politely inquired. 

“I want to borrow $20,000!” the young man replied with a smile.  “Why” questioned the vice-president.”

“Because I am broke!” was the frank reply.  “I owned a busienss and it failed.  I want to start up again.”

It was an unorthodox and unexpected approach for a loan.  Further, the bank executive found it a refreshing one.  He invited the young man to be seated and listened to his story.  The young man’s business had failed because he made mistakes, he confessed.  But, they were errors he would never again make.  He had an idea for a new business in a field with which he was thoroughly familiar.  He had his estimates down in black and white, and the data was unimpeachable.  The young man undoubtedly was possessed of honesty, vigor, and ambition.  He could’t offer much in the way of collateral.   But he walked out of the bank with the loan.  That little touch of honest drama convinced the bank that he was a splendid moral risk.

     Often, one single touch of drama jet-propels an individual into the realm of success.  It requires courage to use drama, for it is a sharp-edged tool and must be used with discretion and a nice sense of timing.

     Years ago a young, ambitious salesman faced a decision that he knew was a most critical one.  But, because he had complete confidence in what he was selling, he was willing to take what timid souls might call a wild gamble.

     He was twenty-five years of age, earning $25.00 a week, princely salary in his private estimation.  He liked his job.  His employers had sent him to Texas to sell barbed wire, then a comparatively new product.  Texas cattlemen needed a cheap, steer-proof fence, needed it badly.  But, when they looked at his product, they were skeptical, saying that it wasn’t strong enough to hold wild, leggy, angular long-horns.

The young man knew he was up against a tough barrier.  If he could only pass that barrier, his fortune could be made. 

     He looked a group of skeptical ranchers straight in the eye and said:  “Gentlemen, I accept your challenge! I’ll tell you what I will do.  I’ll rent a plaza here in San Antonio and erect a barbed-wired corral in it.  Have your cowhands rustle up a couple of dozen of your widest, stronger steers.  Run  ’em into that corral and if it doesn’t hold “em, I’ll leave town, a whipped man.  What do you say?”

     The ranchers rather liked the short, smiling, eager saleman and they accepted his offer.  A large number of them turned out the following afternoon to watch the experiment.  cowboys, riding herd on twenty-five musecular, wild steers, brought them into the corral on the dead run.

     The steers didn’t hesitate.  They charged the innocent and frail-appearing fence in force.  They met it heads down and on the run.  Soon there were bellows of pain and anger, a chorus of snorting and a great rolling of eyes.  They backed up foolishly charged again.  The barbs stung and tore at their tough hides.  Subdued, for the most part, they subsided quietly in the middle of the improvised coral, keeping as far away from the hated fence as possible.  A few  courageous and unregenertate longhorns attempted individual tilts with the barbed-wire fence without success. 

     The touch of drama won the confidence of the cattlemen.  Before sunset, the young salesman had orders from hundreds of miles of barded-wire fencing.  Within three years he owned his own barded-wire mill.  He became one of the richest and most fabulous figures in the steel industry.  In later years he acknowledged that his dramatic gamble in Texas had instilled in him so much confidence that he was never afraid in the future to tackle any problem. 

     Drama has a way of personalizing those who use it to advantage.  Even the shoe-shine man who snaps his polishing cloth tunefully and smartly gives himself a touch of individuality that the customer likes and remembers.

     Here is prime proof that the public approves of drama!

     When other life insurance salesman were having a lean time of it, a new man entered the crowded, highly competitive field.  he had never before sold life insurance.  He refused to go out and personally solicit business.  He had no friends in the city.  Oldtimers in the field predicted that he would fail miserably. 

     But the man didn’t fail,  Instead, with a few years, he was one of the leading life insurance salesmen in that New York City.  He remained in that category for many, many years.  He started to send letters to a selected list of wealthy prospects.  He didn’t try to sell them life insurance.  Instead, he sold them on the desirability of creating an estate. 

     Prospects liked the practical approach.  It had an economic aspect that appealed to them.  He started to sell million-dollar policies-and he sold a lot of them, too.

     That man knows that drama, shrewdly and wisely used, is one of the most potent influences in the world.

     There is nothing as convincing as a neatly managed touch of visible drama.  A tire manufacturer proved the blowout-proof features of a new tire by exploding a cartridge in a tire on a car speeding at sixty miles an hour.  That picture convinced car owners, jumped sales to a high bracket when no other method would have accomplished as much. 

     A saleman for a nationally known brand of canned foods had tried unsuccessfully for two years to sell the leading grocer in a large city.  The grocer had stubbornly insisted that there was no local demand for this particular brand.  It was an awkward situation for the salesman.  His manager needled him unmercifully for his failure.  Selling the grocer had a priority  in the ambitiion of the salesman.

     One day the salesman was struck with an idea.  He investigated and discovered that his hunch was right.  He immediately drove to the store of his tough prospect. ” Give me a half hour of your time tonight when your store has closed,” he pleaded.  “If I can’t convince you that the people of this city eat a lot of our products, I’ll never bother you again.”

     The grocer was a reasonable man.  He granted the request.  That evening, they drove out of the city and turned into a rough, dirt road.  Soon an unpleasant odor became evident.

     “Hey!” the grocer yelled indignantly.  “you’re headed for the city dump!”

“I know it,”  grinned the salesman.”I’m doing it on purpose.  It won’t take long.  There’s something there I want to show you.”

     He parked his car, led the protesting prospect over to a mountain of scrap tin cans.  His brand has a distinctive label, one that can’t be missed.  For this the salesman was most grateful.

     He pointed to the pile of empty cans.  “You say there isn’t any demand for our products,” he said.  Examine the pile of cans.  You can spot our labels, as well as those of the brand you sell.  Someone is using a devil of a lot of our products, aren’t they?  Doesn’t that display convince you that you are losing busiess because you don’t stock a brand that’s good and gaining in popularity?”

     The grocer did’t answer.  He was allergic to bad smells.  He held his handkerchief to his face as they headed back to the car.  As they entered the city limits, he asked the saleman to drive him home.   At the curb, the grocer grinned sheepishly.

     “This is the first time in my life I’ve ever had a salesman sell me on the city dump!”  he acknowledged.  “Come into the house, young  fellow,  and have a drink.”  If you’ll come to the store in the morning I’ll give you an initial order.”

     Today this man is the sales manager of his company.  When a young salesman becomes discouraged, he sometimes tells him this story.  Incidentally, the once-reluctant grocer today sells a tremendous volume of canned foods that bear a very distinctive label.

     One thing about drama is that it is usually so unexpected that it has the habit of breaking down resistance.  It does the job pleasantly, too.

     A brush manufacturer recognized this and built a national business by a shrewd use of the device of drama.  This product was sold through house-to-house salesmen.  At the time this manufacturer launched his first sales campaign, most salesmen in the house-to house field were crude practioners, resorting to such primitive and forceful methods of persuasion as to arouse the resentment of housewives.

     The brush salesmen were first carefuly trained in the fundamentals of salemanship.  when a housewife opened the door, instead of trying to get his foot in the door to prevent its being slammed in his face, these young men were trained to step back.  Before th housewife coud say “no,”  the saleman extended his hand.  In that hand he held a small, but excellent brush.  “This is a gift from the _____ Brush Company,”  he would state.  “We make a specialty of household brushes and we would like to have you try this brush.  Natually, I’d like to show you our full line of household brushes, May I?”  

     It was a brand new, exciting coureous approach.  The little touch of drama was so unexpected that the housewife’s natural and antagonism was broken down and vanished.  After all, she had a perfectly good, practical brush in her hand that the man had given her-so she invited him in. 

     That touch of drama helped to build a big and prosperous business.

     Try using drama.  But do not confuse it with sensationalism.  Don’t attempt to use it to cover up a lack of quality.  It must be backed with honesty, spiced with sincerity.  Properly used, the divice of drama can help you over many a rough spot.        

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