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Title: Retail Shoe Salesmanship
Author: Geuting, A. H., Conner, H. T., Butterworth, Frank, Hamilton, George F.
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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                      ADDITION TO LIST OF FOUNDERS





 R. H. FYFE & CO.,





















 SEATON W. ALEXANDER, _President_,

   Alexander & Co.

 A. O. DAY,

   R. H. Fyfe & Co.

 MRS. JENNIE L. EVANS, _Firm Member_,

   Lewis & Reilly

 R. H. FYFE, _President_,

   R. H. Fyfe & Co.

 WILLIAM R. LEWIS, _Firm Member_,

   Lewis & Reilly


   R. H. Fyfe & Co.

 H. C. McLAUGHLIN, _Shoe Buyer_,

   Potter Shoe Co.

 HENRY MOOREHOUSE, _General Manager_,

   Brockton Last Co.

 JAMES P. ORR, _President_,

   Potter Shoe Co.

 G. S. ROTH, _Manager Shoe Dept._,

   L. S. Donaldson Co.

 T. M. SCOGGINS, _Vice-President_,

   Krupp & Tuffly

 THOMAS W. SHERRON, _President_,

   Sherron Shoe Co.

 MILO A. SLADE, _Firm Member_,

   Slade Shoe Shops

 J. F. TEEHAN, _Vice-President_,

   Dunbar Pattern Co.

 L. F. TUFFLY, _President_,

   Krupp & Tuffly

 VICTOR E. VAILE, _President_,

   Vaile Shoe Co.

 H. L. VAN DEGRIFT, _General Manager_,

   Van Degrift Shoe Co.

 L. W. VOLK, _Firm Member_,

   Volk Bros. Co.

                    The Educational Training Course
                         Retail Shoe Salesmen_




















































   NEW YORK, N. Y.



 E. T. WRIGHT & CO.,



































                           EDITORIAL COUNCIL

                   ARTHUR L. EVANS, _Editor in Chief_

                 GEORGE F. HAMILTON, _Managing Editor_


 C. Q. ADAMS. _General Manager_,

   Bristol Patent-Leather Co.


   Boot and Shoe Recorder

 C. L. ANDERSON, _President_,

   Bristol Patent Leather Co.

 T. F. ANDERSON, _Secretary_,

   New England Shoe & Leather Ass’n.

 GEORGE W. BAKER, _President_,

   George W. Baker Shoe Co.

 GEORGE W. BAKER, Jr., _Sec’y_ and _Treas._,

   George W. Baker Shoe Co.

 JOHN A. BARBOUR, _President_,

   Brockton Rand Co.

 PERLEY E. BARBOUR, _Vice President_,

   Brockton Rand Co.

 CHARLES A. BLISS, _Treasurer_,

   Bliss & Perry Co.

 ELMER J. BLISS, _President_,

   Regal Shoe Co.

 FRANK J. BRADLEY, _President_,

   Hazen B. Goodrich & Co.

 FRANK R. BRIGGS, _Treasurer_,

   Thomas G. Plant Co.

 E. P. BROWN, _President_,

   United Shoe Machinery Co.

 MAX BROWN, _President_,

   Hazen-Brown Co.

 JOHN A. BUSH, _President_,

   Brown Shoe Co.


   United Shoe Machinery Co.

 C. K. CHISHOLM, _Firm Member_,

   Chisholm Shoe Co.

 F. S. COBB, _President_,

   Seamans & Cobb Co.

 HENRY W. COOK, _Vice President_,

   A. E. Nettleton Co.

 H. T. CONNER, _Vice President_,

   George E. Keith Stores Co.

 LOUIS A. COOLIDGE, _Treasurer_,

   United Shoe Machinery Co.

 E. D. COX,

   United Shoe Machinery Co.

 F. F. CUTLER, _President_,

   The Cutler Publications.

 A. W. DONOVAN, _President_,

   E. T. Wright & Co.


   United States Rubber Co.


   L. B. Evans’ Son Co.

 PERCIVAL B. EVANS, _Vice President_,

   L. B. Evans’ Son Co.

 A. H. GEUTING, _Dealer and Ex-President_,

   National Shoe Retailers’ Association



 JOHN S. GRIFFITHS, _President_,

   L. B. Evans’ Son Co.


   Orthopedic and Merchandising Specialist

 A. C. HEALD, _Treasurer_,

   Stetson Shoe Co.


   Hirsch-Ullman Shoe Co.

 A. V. HOLBROOK, _President_,

   A. V. Holbrook Bootery Co.

 IRVING B. HOWE, _Partner_,

   A. H. Howe & Sons.

 CHARLES C. HOYT, _President_,

   Farnsworth, Hoyt Co.

 HERBERT V. HUNT, _President_,

   Hunt-Rankin Leather Co.

 GEORGE E. KEITH, _President_,

   George E. Keith Co.

 HAROLD C. KEITH, _Treasurer_,

   George E. Keith Co.

 J. F. KNOWLES, _Treasurer_,

   W. G. Simmons Corp.

 GEORGE H. LEACH, _Secretary_,

   George E. Keith Co.

 A. H. LOCKWOOD, _Editor_,

   Shoe & Leather Reporter

 FRANK R. MAXWELL, _Vice President_,

   Thomas G. Plant Co.

 GEORGE H. MAYO, _Manager_, _Footwear Division_,

   United States Rubber Co.

 ALLEN H. MEADORS, _Partner_,

   John A. Meadors & Sons.

 J. G. MENIHAN, _President_,

   Menihan Co.

 T. C. MIRKIL, _Secretary-Commissioner_,

   National Shoe Retailers’ Association

 RAYMOND P. MORSE, _Treasurer_,

   Morse & Burt Co.

 JAMES A. MUNROE, _Vice President_,

   E. T. Wright & Co.

 GEORGE A. NEWHALL, _Vice President_,

   Jones, Peterson & Newhall Co.

 GEORGE E. PEIRCE, _Firm member_,

   Thomas F. Peirce & Son

 WALTER I. PERRY, _President_,

   Bliss & Perry Co.

 PAUL A. PETERS, _Vice President_,

   Peters Mfg. Co.

 WILLIAM F. PETERS, _President_,

   Peters Mfg. Co.

 BURT W. RANKIN, _Treasurer_,

   Hunt-Rankin Leather Co.

 J. B. REINHART, _Vice President_,

   Wizard Foot Appliance Co.

 CHARLES A. REYNOLDS, _President_,

   Keystone Leather Co.

 FRED B. RICE, _Vice President_,

   Rice & Hutchins, Inc.

 HOLLIS B. SCATES, _Shoe Division Manager_,

   William Filene’s Sons Co.

 MARK W. SELBY, _Vice President and Secretary_,

   Selby Shoe Co.

 F. W. SMALL, _Manager Shoe Dept._,

   Gilchrist Co.

 S. G. SPITZER, _Manager Shoe Dept._,

   S. Kann Sons Co.

 FRED W. STANTON, _Secretary_,

   National Shoe Travelers’ Association


   Stelling-Nickerson Shoe Co.

 E. H. STETSON, _President_,

   Stetson Shoe Co.

 JAMES H. STONE, _Editor_,

   The Shoe Retailer.

 E. B. TERHUNE, _Treasurer and General Manager_,

   Boot and Shoe Recorder.

 GEORGE A. VOLK, _Firm member_,

   Volk Bros. Co.

 J. M. WATSON, _President_,

   Guarantee Shoe Co.

 R. R. WILKINSON, _Shoe Buyer_,

   Cohen Brothers.

 W. W. WILLSON, _Store Sales Manager_,

   Rice & Hutchins, Inc.

 E. T. WRIGHT, _Treasurer_,

   E. T. Wright & Co.

                        RETAIL SHOE SALESMANSHIP


                           GEORGE F. HAMILTON

                            BROWN UNIVERSITY

                         IN COLLABORATION WITH

   _Frank Butterworth, Store Sales Manager, Regal Shoe Co._

   _H. T. Conner, Vice-President, George E. Keith Stores Co._

   _A. H. Geuting, Dealer, Ex-Pres., National Shoe Retailers’ Ass’n._

   _A. V. Holbrook, President, A. V. Holbrook Bootery Co._

   _Allen H. Meadors, Partner, John A. Meadors & Sons_

   _Hollis B. Scates, Shoe Division Manager, William Filene’s Sons Co._

   _F. W. Small, Shoe Department Manager, Gilchrist Co._

   _J. M. Watson, President, Guarantee Shoe Co._

   _R. R. Wilkinson, Shoe Buyer, Cohen Bros._

   _W. W. Willson, Manager Retail Stores, Rice & Hutchins, Inc._

                                VOLUME 1



                          COPYRIGHT, 1920, BY

                         _All rights reserved_

                             Made in U.S.A.



In the preparation of this volume the plan has been to present the
principles of shoe salesmanship—not an abstract or generalized treatment
but a specific statement of the principles as they apply directly to the
daily efforts of the retail shoe salesman. Throughout, the author’s
purpose has been to emphasize the fact that true salesmanship is an
effort of brains rather than one of physical endeavor or rule-of-thumb

It is recognized that preparation for success in selling must commence
within the man himself and that only as he improves himself will he be
able to communicate a higher quality of service to his customer.
Realizing this, the chief stress in the first four chapters of the
volume is placed on those important qualities that have to do with the
man’s responsibility to himself. Mainly these are considerations bearing
on the proper care and development of the body and, what is still more
essential, the proper mental attitude of the man toward his present job
and future development. This having been accomplished the salesman is
ready to consider his further growth, which comes through a better
understanding of his relation and responsibility to others—the customer
and the employer. It is on these facts that the main stress is laid
throughout the later chapters.

Acknowledgment is gratefully made to the following shoe men for their
valuable suggestions, based upon years of successful selling experience:
James M. Borland, George F. Breck, R. E. Caradine, Herbert E. Currier,
R. C. Hearne, J. F. Knowles, W. E. McIlhenny, H. C. McLaughlin, Thomas
B. Meath, A. E. Oldaker, Joseph E. Palmer, A. E. Pitts, John F. Reedy,
Sydney Stokes.

                                                      GEORGE F. HAMILTON

                           TABLE OF CONTENTS

                                CHAPTER I


 THE FIELD OF RETAIL SELLING                                         1–8

      Purpose of the Course; The Plan; How to Read; The Science
      of Business; The Salesman’s Place; Retail Shoe Selling.

                               CHAPTER II

 RELATION OF THE MAN TO HIS JOB                                     9–22

      Service; Self Analysis; Confidence; Character;
      Personality; Carving Out a Career; Co-operation; Success
      the Reward of Merit; The Price of Success.

                               CHAPTER III

 HEALTH AN IMPORTANT FACTOR                                        23–38

      Joy of a Healthy Body; Keeping “Fit” for Business; Food;
      Fresh Air; Sleep; Learn to Play; Care of the Body; Work
      and Play for the Mind; Nerves; Personal Appearance; The
      Knack of Being Well Dressed.

                               CHAPTER IV

 ENTHUSIASM WITH HONESTY                                           39–55

      Getting “Life” Into the Sale; Advertising to Focus the
      Customer’s Enthusiasm; What is Enthusiasm?; Keeping Up
      Steam; Make the First Sale to Yourself; The Future a
      Reflection of “To-Days”; Honesty; Danger of
      Over-Enthusiasm; Promises.

                                CHAPTER V

 THE CUSTOMER AS THE SALESMAN’S GUEST                              56–75

      The Human Heart Throb; Greeting the Customer; Remembering
      the Name; No Geography in Service; Familiarity; Meeting
      Him Face to Face; Side Chatter; Painful Silence; Customer
      Concentration; Talking in Terms of “You”; Stick to the
      Sale; Talking in Positive Terms; Don’t Argue; “War-Time
      Portions” Out of Date.

                               CHAPTER VI

 TAKING AN INTEREST IN THE CUSTOMER                                76–95

      Are You Selling or Is He Buying?; Getting His Interest;
      Points of Contact; Handling the Goods; Appropriate Selling
      Talk; Suggestion; Studying the Customer; Discrimination
      Among Customers; Interruptions.

                               CHAPTER VII

 DIFFERENT TYPES OF CUSTOMERS                                     96–109

      Variety Among People; Human Nature; Tuning-Up to the
      Customer; Children; Talkative People; Practical; Silent;
      Unpleasant or Grouchy; Elderly Person or Invalid.

                              CHAPTER VIII

 DIFFERENT TYPES OF CUSTOMERS (_Continued_)                      110–122

      In a Hurry; “Only Looking”; Undecided; Two Friends
      Together; Ignorant and Poor; Style Regardless of Price;
      Actual or Assumed Foot Troubles.

                               CHAPTER IX

 SHOWING THE GOODS                                               123–142

      Freshen-Up the Selling Talk; The Outsider’s Point of View;
      Getting Under-Way in the Sale; Style Not in Stock; “Just
      as Good”; Selecting the Stock; Don’t Concentrate on One
      Line; Showing More Goods; Customer Who Does Not Buy.

                                CHAPTER X

 KNOWLEDGE OF THE STOCK                                          143–159

      “These are Better”; Study of the Stock; Styles; Stock
      Arrangement; Time Saving; Keeping Posted on New Stock;
      Customers’ Criticisms; Stock Turn-Over.

                               CHAPTER XI

 MONEY VALUE OF IDEAS                                            160–174

      Getting “Under His Skin”; Making Two Sales Out of One;
      Advantages of an Extra Pair; Closing the Sale in the
      Store; Getting Business From Outside Friends; Telephone
      Salesmanship; Personal Letter; Advantages of Display
      Fixtures; Exaggeration; Forced Sales.

                               CHAPTER XII

 THE SALESMAN’S RESPONSIBILITY                                   175–197

      Selling P.M. Goods; Purpose of the P.M.; Advantages;
      Disadvantages; Salesman’s Attitude Toward P.M.’s; The
      Customer’s Frame of Mind; Returns; Exchanges; Adjustments;
      Co-operation; Team Work; Pulling Together With the Store
      System; Individual Responsibility; The Salesman as a
      Consulting Expert; Conclusion.

                        RETAIL SHOE SALESMANSHIP

                               CHAPTER I
                      THE FIELD OF RETAIL SELLING


The whole idea and purpose of the Training Course for Retail Shoe
Salesmen is to supply the means to increase the salesman’s value.[1] The
slogan of the Retail Shoe Salesmen’s Institute is the plain truth that
“Knowledge Applied is Power.” Knowledge of itself is of no more value
than idle steam from the teapot. Harness up the steam so that it may be
put to work and it moves the world—it operates your factories, lights
your cities, grows your food and keeps you warm. So also with knowledge.
All the world’s learning is worth not a dollar unless it is harnessed-up
to the practical problem of everyday life.

Footnote 1:

  Although, throughout the Course, mention is often made of “the
  salesman,” without reference to the saleswoman, this is done to avoid
  repetition, simply as a matter of convenience in reading. This volume
  and all others of the Course are designed to meet the special needs of
  both the retail shoe salesman and the saleswoman. Similarly the
  customer is for convenience referred to by the use of the masculine
  pronoun forms.

Above all other things this Course is practical. It is the first-hand
statement of the experience gathered as a result of years of effort by
successful men in the shoe business. It is a plain statement of
principles and practices of success that have cost these men hundreds of
thousands of dollars to gather in the school of practical experience.
This is an advanced age. No longer need the man or woman of ambition
grope around in the darkness to find a safe footing on which to build a
career. Business today is a red-blooded man’s game, and success comes to
those who know the rules of this game. Here are the rules—learn to know


“Anything that’s worth having is worth working for.” And the happy truth
is that after you get into the spirit of the game, more than half the
fun is in the working. Charles M. Schwab, the great steel magnate, said
to be the greatest salesman in the world, has made millions—more than he
or his family will be able to spend in a lifetime. But he is on the job
every day. Not because he wants more money, but because he loves the
business game, and would rather give up his millions than be put out of
the game. This is the spirit that wins.

In this Course you have the tools with which success in your work is
built. That you have faith in your own ability to move up is shown in
the fact that you have numbered yourself among those who are no longer
satisfied to continue in the rut of routine and who have taken a firm
stand to move on and up.

The Training Course is not a thing of magic, like Aladdin’s lamp, that
had only to be rubbed to satisfy the owner’s fondest desire. There is no
royal road to success. Desire, effort, work are the signposts that mark
the upward way. The Course supplies the need of ambitious men and women
who realize that success comes only as a reward of industry, and are
willing to meet it half way.

The course of reading is planned to continue for a period of one year,
or, to be exact, 48 weeks from the time of the subscriber’s enrollment.
Some will find it convenient to complete the reading within a shorter
time. However, the longer period has purposely been arranged so that
each reader will have plenty of time to thoroughly cover each feature of
the Course and thus to get from it the maximum benefit.


Learn to read in terms of _ideas_ rather than in terms of lines or
pages. When Lincoln delivered his Gettysburg Address a great multitude,
gathered from all over the country, was assembled before him. These
people had come to hear a great speech from the foremost statesman of
the age. Such a speech, they thought, should call forth all his
eloquence and oratory. And so they were disappointed with Lincoln’s
simple little talk, that took less than five minutes to deliver. In
fact, only one or two of the newspapers bothered to comment on it the
next day. They had calculated its value in terms of _space_ rather than
_wisdom_, and had overlooked one of the finest speeches ever delivered
in this or any other country.

In other words, learn to read with the mind rather than the eye. Eight
volumes make up the working basis of the Course. You have six weeks in
which to read each one of these—less than five pages of reading each
day. Learn to do this reading so that you may _absorb_ it and make it a
part of your daily working equipment. It may be on the principles of
selling, or correct shoe fitting, or on a discussion of shoe
leather—whatever it is be sure you know it, be sure it has become
thoroughly soaked into your brain, and then be sure to use it. Only as
you apply your knowledge will you be able to turn it into dollars. So
begin at once.


Once in a while you will find a man who will shy at what he calls
“theory.” His idea of theory is probably anything that comes from books.
Not long ago one of these men said he didn’t believe his business had
lost money the previous year, although his ledger said so. However, his
creditors a little later convinced him he was bankrupt. It didn’t make
much difference then whether or not he believed the facts or still
considered them theory.

The law which says that an object left unsupported in the air will drop
to earth is theory. Who cares whether the so-called “practical man”
believes it or not—it’s a fact. And if he steps off the side of a ditch
the natural law operates and theory proves to be a fact. Business today
is a science. It is governed by principles that are as unfailing as the
sun. The Course presents the principles of scientific retail shoe
selling. These are the most practical things in business.


In the whole scheme of merchandising, from the gathering of raw
materials to the delivery of the finished article in the customer’s
hands, no job is more important than that of the retail salesman. His is
the final effort. It has been preceded by the combined labor of tens of
thousands of workers and the investment of hundreds of millions of
capital to furnish the means of welcoming the customer and of
encouraging the sale.

These great expenditures of mind, labor and money have been made to
build an organisation, to provide attractive salesrooms with all their
necessary fittings, experienced and high salaried buyers have been busy
in bringing together desirable stock, expensive advertising has been
sent broadcast. But what does it all amount to without the final sale?

It remains for the retail salesman to meet the customer face to face and
upon the ability he has to move the stock is determined the success or
failure of the whole undertaking. This, surely, is a big job and it
carries with it a big responsibility. Amid present-day competition no
longer can we sit back in hopeful anticipation for the best. Selling is
mainly a matter of brains, and success comes in proportion to the amount
of ability mixed with effort.


The annual shoe business of the United States is estimated at more than
$1,500,000,000. There are close on to 250,000 men and women engaged in
the retail selling of shoes, most of whom spend their entire effort in
the work. Billions of invested capital is required to furnish the means
of carrying on this enormous business.

From the standpoint of cost as well as importance as part of a man’s
wearing apparel the shoe ranks second only to his suit of clothes. With
most women this is true also. No other part of a person’s wardrobe,
whether it be of a man, woman or child, becomes so intimately associated
with the senses of comfort, self-satisfaction, and the mild and harmless
conceit of the wearer. A new shoe is an event. In the selection of a
shirt, a collar or a tie the main consideration is that of appearance,
and if the article proves a disappointment it goes to the scrap heap
without any great money loss. Furthermore it has caused no actual
physical discomfort.

But not so with the shoe. A ten-dollar shoe is expected to give fifteen
or twenty dollars worth of wear; it must stand all kinds of abuse and
weather; it must look trim and neat at all times; it must match all cuts
and colors of clothing; it must hold its shape, and never, never cause
the wearer any pain or inconvenience. That same shoe must attract the
approving attention of the wearer’s friends; it must wherever worn give
the sensation of snug sufficiency; it must help the chest to expand a
little with pride of possession and the shoulders to straighten up as
that “well-dressed” feeling asserts itself. Every shoe salesman has
noticed these things, that spread of honest joy on the customer’s face
as he stands up, stamps his foot into the shoe and strides up and down a
few feet, erect and confident, and then reaches into his pocket for the

This, briefly, is what goes on in the customer’s mind while he is buying
a new pair of shoes. It is for shoe salesman to realize that although
the individual sale is only a small part of his day’s work, it is really
an event in the mind of the average customer. Success follows in
proportion to the salesman’s knack in “tuning-up” to the customer so
that both minds harmonize, so that they mutually understand each other,
and so that the sale results in mutual satisfaction and benefit.

                               CHAPTER II
                     RELATION OF THE MAN TO HIS JOB


Why is it that of two salesmen working together in the same store,
selling the same goods, at the same prices and under the same
conditions, one regularly books twice as much business as the other? “Oh
well,” someone says, “he has a following; he has friends who come in
year after year and won’t buy from anyone else. He knows what they want,
and all he has to do is to take the order. It’s a case of having them
drop in his lap. The other man gets only the left-overs.”

“Simple enough,” he says, but is it quite as simple as he says it is?
What has the one salesman to sell that the other doesn’t have?

It is that great, everlasting business builder—_service_. It is the
salesman’s stock in trade, the thing he has to deliver to the customer,
and the thing that stamps him either as a salesman or a mere “order

In the financial statement of one of the big New York stores is an item
called _good-will_ listed along with merchandise, stocks, cash and other
property the business owns, and this item is valued at a million
dollars. Every successful business enjoys a certain amount of good-will
that may be reduced to a basis of dollars and cents. It is not unusual
for a well-conducted business to have good-will actually worth several
millions of dollars. And this is nothing more than a trade-following the
store has built up as a result of satisfactory service given to the
customers in the past. It is the same kind of trade-following the
salesman must build up if he is steadily to increase his earnings, and
it comes only through service—through changing an _occasional_ customer
into a _steady_ one.


Considering that the salesman’s work should be about ninety per cent
head work and ten per cent leg work it is mighty important for him to
know what there is in him “from the neck up.” Successful men in selling
have taken time to consider these things and they have increased their
earning power as a result.

Every salesman should sit down with himself and actually study what he
has to offer in the way of service to the customer. Without prejudice
either for or against yourself take an inventory of how you measure up
on the following:

          Knowledge of the business
          Love for your work
          Sincerity with the customer
          Loyalty to the house
          Effort toward improvement in the quality of service.

The first step toward progress is to know your strong and weak points;
to make the most of the strong ones by using them whenever possible and
to build up those that are below the standard. Go over the list and
grade yourself on the percentage basis, from one to a hundred, according
to your honest opinion. A person might rate one hundred per cent on his
knowledge of the business, but what good would it do him if he did not
have tact in handling the customer? He might find perhaps that he was
only fifty per cent on tact. That would be his cue, to plan at once to
learn how to improve his approach to the customer, how to take advantage
of suggestion rather than argument, and how to get the customer to agree
with him.

Go right down the list, one after another, treat yourself fairly, and
find out just how you stand in relation to the qualities of service that
make for success. And remember this, that in developing tact,
enthusiasm, sincerity, loyalty, and the others, you are not building for
success as a shoe salesman alone, but as a buyer, manager, owner, and as
far beyond that as you have the courage to go. The qualities of success
are the same whether they be for a small success or for a large one; be
sure you get them right and then go ahead.

Unless a man can convince himself absolutely that he has in him
something worth while he will never be able to get anyone else to
believe it. He should be so cock-sure of his own ability to move up that
it will never occur to anyone to doubt it. But that does not mean he
should be satisfied with himself. Confidence is not self-satisfaction.


Assuming that the salesman thoroughly knows his job and is in a position
to give his customer service, he will then have in him that air of
assurance that will at once win confidence. He will not, of course,
openly “rub it in” on the customer and give him the feeling that his
opinion counts for nothing. The success of the sale depends upon the
salesman’s ability to make the customer feel that his opinion is of
first importance, but that in making his decision he may absolutely rely
upon the value of the expert’s suggestion. This impression will “get
over” only as the salesman shows a natural sense of confidence in his
service to the customer.

On the other hand, self-satisfaction is dangerous. It is one of the
chief causes that limit progress. Satisfaction means the taking away of
the driving force of success that urges the person to do the task a
little better next time. There is no standing still in the shoe
business, either for the salesman, the department head, or the company
itself. The movement is either forward or backward. The _satisfied_ shoe
salesman is drifting backward although he may be booking as much
business this week as he did last. His is a case of “dry rot,” and it is
only a matter of days before the condition will begin to show in the
size of his book.

So do not confuse confidence with self-satisfaction. One is the fountain
head and dear flowing stream of life and advancement; the other is the
stagnant pool that shows on the surface its story of rot and decay.


The man who said, “I would rather be right than president,” expressed in
seven short words what some other statesmen have required volumes to
express—and have done it with less clearness. He expressed to the world
that he was a man of character and that he placed above all other
things, even the greatest honor the country can give, the importance of
holding to a principle of right he had set for himself.

In speaking of business character we mean the sum total of all those
uplifting qualities of honesty, ambition, courage, loyalty, courtesy,
enthusiasm, and a dozen others that go to make up the moral fiber of a
man. Bring these all together, or as many of them as the individual may
have, and you get a product which is that man’s _character_. There were
times in the pioneer days of the United States when it was possible for
a business man to “shade” some of his dealings and still retain his
position among his associates. Nathaniel Drew, who was a financial power
a few generations ago, was one of the first men to practice stock
watering. Driving his cattle from upper New York State to the wholesale
market in New York City, he very carefully provided that they should be
given no water to drink until about ready to enter the market. Just
before being weighed-in, the thirsty animals were given water to their
fullest desire. The result was that Drew collected on “watered stock,”
and was considered clever.

But those days have passed. No business or any other enterprise can hope
to be permanently successful unless it is built upon character. Time was
when the traveling salesman could go out on the road with a trunk half
filled with samples and the other half filled with cigars and booze. But
those days have passed too. Today, with the traveling salesman, it is a
matter of open competition on the basis of the worth of the goods plus
the service of the salesman. Get right on these factors that make for
character—courtesy, ambition, honesty, and the like. Only then will you
naturally improve personality and become a real salesman.


Almost without exception a man’s nationality is so clearly stamped upon
his face that it cannot be mistaken. Just so with personality. It is the
outward expression of a man’s or woman’s innermost character. Sometimes
we find attempts at forced personality, but these are simply disguises
and will soon be recognized. Counterfeits may pass for a while but they
will sooner or later find their way to the scrap pile.

There are all kinds of personalities just as there are physical types of
men. There are strong and weak, pleasing and disagreeable, depending
upon the make-up of the individual and the degree to which he has
developed character. To some degree at least every person forms the
habit of reading the character of people with whom they come in contact.
A child four years old, and much younger too, will size-up a stranger
and soon let him know what the impression has been. From some stories we
hear of the dog it seems that the faithful animal can, in the twinkling
of an eye, tell even the thoughts in a man’s mind.

A man is judged by the impression he makes when met. With the shoe
salesman, in approaching the customer, there is almost unconsciously the
double “sizing-up” process going on. The salesman will improve his
selling ability by being able to size-up the customer so that he may
know the likes, dislikes and peculiarities of people upon meeting them.
This however, will be discussed later. Here we are considering the
qualities of the shoe salesman and the effect they have upon the

Although a man may not have a pleasing personality he is blessed, at
least, to the extent that he can improve it as he can improve his
muscular development. Notice the expression on the face of the sprinter
in a hundred-yard dash. Every particle of determination in his whole
being is expressed in the position of that lower jaw. It takes the man a
few seconds to cover the hundred yards, but during that time he has
summed up everything there was in him. This has made an impression upon
his mind and determination, which as part of his character, has been
developed to that extent. This is just a simple illustration but it
shows the undying power of genuine effort.

Recognize your shortcomings, make some effort every day to correct them.
Character and personality will then follow as the rainbow follows the


In one of the art museums there is a marble carving by an artist who had
a big idea that showed his faith in the great truth that _we are what we
make ourselves_. He represented a bright, strong, vigorous young man
with a chisel in one hand and a mallet in the other, busily engaged in
carving himself out of a rough piece of marble. The thought of the whole
thing was that the young man’s future, or his career, was before him,
and that the finished product would be exactly what he made it himself.
In relation to his courage, his confidence and his persistence would be
determined the beauty of his future. The world judges and honors him on
the basis of what he produces.

To bring the point a little closer home, suppose Marshall Field, John
Wanamaker or any other of the great merchants had stopped chiseling
after they had become stock boys or clerks; they never would have
advanced a step higher. But they did not stop, and we give them credit
for chiseling great monuments for the world.


One of the great problems of the time is that of building up a true
basis of co-operation or team-work among all workers connected with an
organization, and that means everyone from the youngest stock boy up to
the president. No business can move forward without co-operation on the
part of everyone concerned any more than an army could succeed without a
head or without team-work.

It is a well-established fact that no matter how humble or important the
job, one is as necessary for success as the other. As an example, a
stock boy by placing a pair of shoes in the wrong box may be the means
of losing a sale in spite of the most careful planning on the part of
the store manager to have the shoe ready for the customer to buy. For
this reason, all right-thinking business men recognize the fact and are
willing to give the humblest worker his proportionate share of praise
and profit in the success that comes from his effort.


In studying a forest it will be found that there are all kinds of trees,
big and little, strong and mighty, as well as the weak; and it is just
so among men and women. There are those who are leaders—men who are
extraordinary in character and ability, men who have the will to strive
for better things. On the other hand, there are those who are so weak
that they must be cared for. There are men who show neither will-power
nor character. Every _normal_ man, however, has in him the power to
shape his own future. It is for him to choose. He will take his place
according to the way he measures up to the responsibility.

In considering these things the question of compensation naturally comes
up. Are we to reward every man on an equal basis regardless of his own
contribution to progress? The answer is emphatically—_No_. Compensation
takes two forms; financial and honorary. Some men strive for both;
others for money alone and still others for the praise and respect of
their fellow-men. Without the incentive that comes to a man when he
knows that his extra effort will be rewarded by greater returns either
in money or honor, there can be no advancement.

James J. Hill, the great railroad builder, who was responsible more than
any one man for developing the wild West of his time; Andrew Carnegie,
the lad who arrived here almost penniless and later built one of the
largest fortunes ever accumulated; Edward H. Harriman, another railroad
builder, who overcame all sorts of physical handicaps and took his place
among the men who have made America; Theodore Roosevelt, if you please,
who as a boy was so weak and sickly he was not expected to live, and yet
later developed into the most vigorous and powerful man in body and mind
this country has produced—they all knew that success would come only as
a reward of individual merit, and they played the game to win. What
could have been more fatal than to have taken from these men their hope
of the future? To them it would have been unfair, but to the world’s
progress the injustice would have been a thousand times greater.

No one disputes the right of every individual to stand equal with his
fellow-man before the law; which means that justice shall be equal in
favor of the humble and the great. But you cannot equalize ambition,
courage and ability. While the humble are just as needful and important
in the world’s work it is necessary also to have leadership with which
the less capable must co-operate to produce the best world’s results.
The ambition of every individual in the world should be to make the most
of himself, strengthen his character day by day, develop his ability,
and thus aim for the highest position that God has given him power to
attain. No man can be held responsible for the lowly position in which
he may have been born, but he can be held responsible for being content
to stay there.


Anthony H. Geuting, ex-president of the National Shoe Retailers’
Association, and one of Philadelphia’s successful merchants, has told
the story of his early start toward the position he now occupies. The
experience dates back about thirty-five years, but it clearly shows that
the “going” for the young man or woman is a great deal smoother today
than it was then.

    Although I started on my first job at $3.50 per week, and paid
    out of this $3.00 every week for board and room, I was able,
    when the year was around, to show something saved. Ever since I
    have kept up this practice and have never spent all that I made;
    always saving something. But to do this it was necessary in the
    early days to practice self-denial. I could not patronize
    pool-rooms, theaters, circuses and many entertainments that were
    calling young men away from their occupations, and often it was
    with bitter regret that I could not take part with the other
    fellows. The temptations were very great, but I knew they could
    not be followed if I intended to succeed.

    Every man of any consequence in the world has had this same
    experience, and the big, successful business houses of today
    were built by men who practiced this method of self-denial,
    through which they gained control over themselves. They learned
    to say “no,” accumulated money, and above all, built for
    character and ability.

    I remember one winter going without an overcoat—and you can
    imagine when the weather was below zero, how I longed for the
    luxurious fur coats so much in use at that time. However, I
    never felt bitter toward those who had them, but rather I made
    up my mind that one day I too would own one.

The reader will find in himself a feeling that he is unsatisfied with
his present progress in business and that his future is still to be
made. Unless he were a man of purpose it is safe to assume that he would
not be reading these pages. He is unsatisfied, and that means that no
matter how well he may have done up to the present he still sees ahead
something better for the future. To be continually dissatisfied stamps a
man as a grumbler and a perpetual grouch, but to be unsatisfied is the
mark of distinction for the man with a healthy purpose, character and a
bedrock foundation of confidence in his own ability to win.

                              CHAPTER III
                       HEALTH AN IMPORTANT FACTOR


Present-day business is one of the most strenuous games we know anything
about. Although it is true, as already mentioned, that good salesmanship
should call for only about a tenth as much physical as mental effort,
the combination of physical, mental and nervous application must
continually be on the alert in a man or woman who is actually playing
the selling game according to rules. Boxing, running, football, tennis,
baseball, are all forms of strenuous exercise, but they do not call for
the same endurance as the busy eight-hour day of retail selling. In
spite of this, how many shoe salesmen are there who actually make it a
part of the daily program to get and keep in condition for the business

During the war period, while some of the most important problems of the
country and of the world were waiting to be solved, we would hear every
once in a while of some chief executive going off to play golf or to
spend three or four days on a hunting or fishing trip. These things were
not done because the men were more interested in golf, hunting and
fishing than they were in the problems of the day. They had actually
been ordered away from their desks. The eye was beginning to lose its
brightness, the complexion was fading a little, and the step, perhaps,
was showing signs of lagging. Alert, vigorous, healthy men were needed,
who could think quickly and clearly. Lloyd George, the British
statesman, made the statement that he was a union man in everything
except his working hours. Very often he has been known to work for
sixteen or twenty hours at a stretch. This was possible only because he
had taken the time and effort necessary to build and maintain a vigorous
and healthy body. There is an added joy in living that only a man in
condition can appreciate.


Ask any young lad to demonstrate how strong he is and he will
immediately draw his arm up tightly and exhibit the knot of muscle. To
him that is an indication of his physical condition. However, the
business man and woman must have a different standard, and that standard
is the basis on which all the parts and organs of the body work together
and perform their functions. What good is a finely adjusted twelve
cylinder motor if the gasolene flow is choked by a bit of dirt in the
supply pipe? The physical machinery is exactly the same. The body must
be healthy both inside and out, and to keep fit we must see that every
part of the machinery is given the chance to do its work.

The young lady is much annoyed to find a pimple on her chin, but to make
everything all right again she puts a little white powder on it and
hopes the trouble will soon clear away. Or if the color is gone from her
cheek she might take some from a box and put it where the natural color
should have been. These things, however, can do her no good. Her trouble
is from within and she is trying to remove the effect instead of getting
at the cause. Put it down now as one of the first principles of health
that if you have a headache or earache, a sore throat or a corn, that it
is your notice that something needs to be fixed. It isn’t a prepared
powder or some special kind of toothache drops you need—they simply aim
to remove the effect. Get at the cause. You probably need more exercise
or a change in diet in order to get at the cause of the headache. The
toothache drop will not improve the condition of the tooth—it needs to
be fixed. The corn is crying for more room—give it a chance.

All of these things are warning signals sent out by nature. Whenever you
receive a notice, act on it promptly, get at the _cause_ and remove it.
Only in this way can you keep steadily fit.


In considering the matter of food it is natural to associate with it the
stomach. Too often we are likely to consider the stomach simply as a
convenience to receive whatever we may feel in the humor of eating. Its
main function, however, is to receive certain limited supplies of food,
properly prepared, and to take from them the necessary elements required
to sustain the body. We need certain foods, like eggs, meat, cheese,
beans, to build muscle; starchy foods, such as bread and potatoes;
sweets, such as those from fruits and certain vegetables, and also
smaller quantities of oils and minerals. It is a good plan to so arrange
the daily diet that a combination of starch, sugar, fats and
muscle-building foods may be had. Most of us, however, do not have the
time or experience necessary to analyze the food we eat to learn its
construction and relative food value. Many excellent text books have
been prepared on this subject with ready-made menus for the
inexperienced. The American Red Cross Text Book on Home Dietetics gives
not only proper food combinations but tells how to prepare the food. A
copy may be found in any public library.

Dr. C. F. Langworthy has prepared a tabulation of common foods in the
five important groups. For a well balanced diet, at least one article
from each group should be represented in the meals each day.

It is most vitally important that we see to it that whatever we do eat
is thoroughly _chewed_. If there should be a limit on the time we have
for eating we could make no mistake by eating half as much and chewing
it twice as well. Too much food, insufficiently chewed, can be nothing
but harmful. In fact, the popular tendency is to eat too much on Sundays
and holidays. This habit of forcing the stomach to work overtime on
state occasions is probably responsible for most cases of indigestion.
Eat to satisfy your hunger. Remember the old copy-book maxim: “We eat to
live; we do not live to eat.”

  For Muscle  │    For Heat and Energy    │For Blood and│   For Fat
              │                           │    Bone     │
  (_Protein_) │ (_Starch_)  │  (_Sugar_)  │(_Mineral or │(_Fats_)
              │             │             │   organic   │
              │             │             │   acids_)   │
 Lean meat    │Bread        │Syrup        │Spinach      │Butter
 Poultry      │Crackers     │Honey        │Peas         │Cream
 Fish         │Macaroni     │Jellies      │Lettuce      │Top-milk
 Oysters      │Rice         │Dried-fruits │Potatoes     │Salt pork
 Eggs         │Cereals      │Candy        │Turnips      │Bacon
 Nuts         │or some other│Sugar        │Apples       │Chocolate
              │form of flour│             │             │
 etc.         │etc.         │etc.         │Oranges      │etc.
              │             │             │Berries      │
              │             │             │etc.         │

The stomach is a delicate instrument, it is the center of a great many
nerves, and it operates best only when these nerves are normal.
Excitement, worry, over-exertion and the like, all have a bad effect
upon the stomach. Under such conditions it would be better not to eat at
all, for the time being at least, rather than to force upon the stomach
a lot of food it is not in condition to digest. The suggestion,
therefore, is to choose pleasant surroundings, free yourself of any
nervous tension, and chew thoroughly.

Drink water. It acts as a drainage system to carry off waste matter of
the body, and the more you drink the better. However, don’t use it as a
means of washing down the food to save the trouble of chewing it.


People sometimes have the impression that colds, sore throat and
pneumonia are associated in some way with the fresh air of out-of-doors.
Following out the same thought they close themselves in from the outside
air, bundle up in heavy clothes, and hope to be spared through the
winter without an attack. The advice of a wise physician to his patient
who was continually catching cold during the cold weather, was to take
off a lot of wraps from around her neck and get out into the cold, fresh

A draft, that we are in the habit of fearing so much, is simply a
circulation of fresh air. The reason it causes trouble is that it
exposes the body when the blood circulation is not active enough to
perform the extra duty required of it. Another physician is credited
with the advice, “The way to avoid having colds is to get in a draft—and
stay in it.”

Sometimes it is not possible to have a continuous circulation of fresh
air in the shoe store or department. The location may make it difficult,
or there may be an objection from some of the people present who would
be unduly exposed. Under the circumstances it would certainly be well to
make a special point of doing some extra open-air walking every day. A
walk of a mile or even a half mile before dinner at night will do a
person more good than all the pink pills that have ever been made. Open
the windows when you go to bed at night and let the air sweep through.
An extra covering will give all the protection needed. During some of
the really cold nights you may even need to wear a woolen cap. Any sort
of a covering will serve the purpose, only be sure to take advantage of
the pure, fresh air—it costs nothing but is worth much.


“To be a success a man needs just two suits—a suit of evening clothes
and a suit of pajamas.” The man who said this probably did not have to
provide for making a living. His main object was evidently to have a
good time, but you will notice that he recognized the value of sleep,
even for a man who need not work.

Eight hours of conscientious work on the part of the shoe salesman means
a steady wearing away of his energy, both mental and physical. He then
needs relaxation so as to check the strain; he needs a change of
surroundings—different thoughts to occupy his mind and different people
to meet. This should come in his hours of recreation; but after that he
needs his full measure of sleep. Most people should have regularly eight
hours of sleep in order that they may be fully refreshed for the duties
of the day to follow. Thomas A. Edison, the inventor, has been getting
along with four hours’ sleep and twenty hours of work for the past
twenty years at least. But he is the great exception that proves the

Don’t try to beat Father Time at his own game. In other words, don’t try
to crowd one day’s work and two days’ pleasure into twenty-four hours.
You cannot drain out two measures of strength and expect to have enough
left over to carry you through the following day.

Throw your cares and worries to the winds when you retire. Forget
business, forget pleasure, forget yourself, and just _sleep_. There will
be time enough to consider cares tomorrow when you are refreshed, and
they won’t seem half so troublesome then.


For the man who has lost the knack of playing, life becomes just
drudgery; he is then simply a work machine. A good, honest laugh is a
tonic that stimulates certain organs of the body that rarely get
exercise any other way. Business calls for a certain amount of serious
consideration, but that isn’t any reason why we should overlook its
pleasures and brightness.

There are all kinds of play. It makes little difference which we choose
so long as we get into the spirit of it, change the line of thought to
prevent getting “stale” and to develop an all-around human being. Some
men gather canceled postage stamps or coins as hobbies; some play golf,
others chess or billiards. Every person should have two or three
hobbies, the more the better, so long as we do not let them run away
with us. Those of us who have inside work, and that means every shoe
salesman, should choose those hobbies that will take us out of doors as
much as possible. Skating, walking, tennis, golf, baseball—they are all
good. Oftentimes we think ourselves athletes when we become boxing,
baseball or football fans, but just remember that the other fellow is
getting the real fun out of it. Our cue is to get into the action.


Some form of regular exercise is what we need. Ten minutes of arm and
leg movements before an open window, both in the morning and at night,
will do more than anything else to build a healthy body and to keep away
the doctor for all time. The first few days of this may seem an awful
bore, but give it a good trial and you will soon find that you get a lot
of increased satisfaction out of it. Many excellent pamphlets on
gymnastics have been prepared by experts and can be consulted at the
public libraries.

Among the most commendable of these is one issued by the government
which contains the “setting-up” exercises used in our training camps. It
is called: Manual of Physical Training for use in the U. S. Army, and if
it is not to be found among Public Documents at your library it may be
bought for 50 cents from the Superintendent of Documents, Washington, D.

It is generally agreed that we should bathe at least twice a week in
order to keep the body in best condition. In warm weather more frequent
baths are required. Perhaps best of all is a cold bath or shower every
morning, but it is not everyone that is able to do this. The warm baths
are essential, however.

Until within the past ten or fifteen years people as a rule did not
fully realize how vitally important it is to keep the teeth in good
condition. The old idea was to allow a tooth to remain until it became
necessary to have it removed. Today it goes without saying that the body
cannot be kept well unless the teeth are kept in condition. One of the
manufacturers of tooth brushes tells us that “a clean tooth never
decays.” More than half the bills of dentists could be saved if we gave
the necessary attention twice a day to our teeth. Doctors tell us that
care at night before going to bed is even more important, both for the
teeth and for the body in general, than the care we give the teeth in
the morning.


The great advantage that the human animal has over all forms of lower
animals is in the matter of mind development. Being blessed in this way
he is able, in a large measure, to “work out his own salvation,” as it
is sometimes expressed. He is not compelled to accept as final the
conditions in which he may find himself, but may govern his career
through the powers of reason, understanding and decision that have been
given him. Upon the extent to which he exercises and develops these
powers will naturally depend the measure of his progress.

There is no doubt whatever that the condition of our health is to a
great extent controlled by the mind. The claim is made also that _every_
condition of the body is governed by the mind; that every form of human
ailment may be prevented or cast off at the direction of the mind. A
great many people believe this and govern their way of living
accordingly; others accept the idea only to a limited extent.

For our purpose we are interested only in so far as to recognize that
there is a relationship between body and mind and that we are capable of
using and developing this. To illustrate the effect that thought has on
bodily condition, an actual instance is told of a man who touched his
hand to a pipe that he had understood to be extremely hot. At once he
had all the mental effect and sensation of the customary burn on his
hand, not learning until later that the pipe was actually icy cold.

The mind must have its work and play; all of one and not any of the
other is just as harmful for the mind as it is for the body. Most forms
of recreation or play that serve for the body serve also for the mind.
However, for a person who uses the brain steadily during business hours
it is best to choose a kind of recreation that will allow the brain to
rest. For example, under the circumstances, a game of chess, which calls
for close application, would not be so desirable a change as bowling,
basket ball or tennis.

The everlasting grouch is the man whose mind is running in a rut. He
hasn’t exercised it enough or given it sufficient variety of work to do.
We hear of musical comedies that are recommended especially for the
“tired business man,” and that means a man who has been thinking along
one line so long that he begins to grow stale. What the musical show
does is to give him a couple hours of absolute change, as a result of
which his mind goes through a series of gymnastics; it gets limbered-up
and the man becomes normal again. Everything is good in its proper
proportion, but too much work and not enough play, or too much play and
not enough work, make a lop-sided man.


Since the war we have seen all too much of “nerve” cases. What we have
come to know as “shell shock” is illness of the nerves, caused,
generally, by an over-strain they have had. Mild cases of “nerves” we
all know. They are the people who cannot stand to hear someone tapping
on the counter with a pencil, or who must insist that little Jimmie stop
his whistling because it upsets their nerves. If these signs begin to
show themselves it is time that we should begin to get more exercise,
fresh air, and perhaps more sleep.


Everyone who has had occasion to come in contact with numbers of people
of different classes, as have all shoe salesmen, has been impressed with
the fact that men of affairs, those who are successful and those who are
most highly regarded, are invariably well groomed. They have hands that
are well-kept; not necessarily dainty, soft hands that look as though
they had never been used, but regular man’s hands capable of doing an
honest day’s work. The nails are clipped and they are clean, but if they
shine too much we might get the impression that he spends too much time
in the manicurist’s chair.

The successful man always has clean shoes, and of course, a clean
collar. He makes a special point, as part of his daily program, to watch
these things carefully. He knows that they are important because they
are noticed by everyone he meets, and he cannot afford to run the risk
of losing a point because of a false impression given by slovenly
appearance. We give more credit to a person of good personal appearance,
because we naturally associate the quality of their work with the kind
of care they give themselves.

A successful business man from the West recently attended a play in New
York in which one of the leading parts was that of a young, aggressive
business man not yet thirty years of age. The part was played well; the
man was well groomed but not overdressed. He looked every inch the
American man of affairs. The business man, who happened at the time to
be in New York to engage a sales manager for his company, later remarked
that the part played was the exact type of man needed in his business.
In other words, he had in his mind the picture of the man needed and,
relying on his past experience, he associated ability with the man’s own
respect for himself as shown by his appearance.


To be well dressed does not necessarily mean that a person must be
expensively dressed. Indeed, it is by no means rare to see expensive
clothes poorly chosen and poorly harmonized so as to give the effect of
cheapness. When we see a light checked suit matched with a flaring red
tie and a yellow shirt to back it up, although we might recognize the
clothes to be of good quality, we could not give the wearer credit for
being well dressed. Certainly we would not give him credit for being a
substantial business man. Business people are not expected to be fashion
models. A lot of frills and fancies are not part of a good business
woman’s outfit. They are likely to become soiled or damaged during the
day and will then give an impression of untidiness. The combinations of
black and white and other subdued colors in clothes are always good.
Furthermore these colors are serviceable and appropriate, in different
combinations, for both summer and winter.

The secret of being well dressed is to wear clothes that match or
harmonize so well that no one part of the attire is conspicuous. Often
we recognize a man to have been well dressed but cannot describe the
clothes he wore. The whole effect was pleasing, his shoes were polished,
his linen clean and his suit pressed, but the effect was one of
completeness rather than of attracting attention to individual articles
of clothes.

For most people the question of neatness in dress can be very well taken
care of by a liberal use of the whisk broom and shoe brush every
morning, a clean collar daily and a suit pressing once a week.

                               CHAPTER IV
                        ENTHUSIASM WITH HONESTY


A successful New York sales manager, in a recent book on salesmanship,
makes the following statement, the truth of which every shoe salesman
will at once recognize.[2]

Footnote 2:

  “Salesmanship and Sales Management,” by John G. Jones.

“The old idea that anyone can sell behind a counter is fast giving way
to a keen realization of the value of salesmanship in retail selling.
Selling behind the counter is largely what the individual makes it.
There are those who simply supply what is asked for, and that none too
graciously; who do not take the trouble to study the line they are
selling, and who give no thought to devising ways of increasing their
sales. There is, on the other hand, a rapidly growing class who have
made it a point to become thoroughly acquainted with their goods; who by
their frankness, courtesy and knowledge win the confidence of their

“They give timely advice to their customers, and are able to sell a
better class of goods than the customer intended to buy; and they can
close a sale when the customer is in doubt and plan methods of awakening
interest in lines other than those the customer had in mind when he
entered the store. The demand for this latter class is so great that the
larger, more progressive retailers throughout the country are
establishing training schools to develop this kind of salespeople.”

There was a time when selling meant simply having a lot of goods on hand
so that if the customer happened in he might pick out what he wanted or
else decide he didn’t want anything. Most of us still remember the
old-fashioned cigar store with the wooden Indian on guard outside the
door, and the corner drug store with a couple of mysterious-looking
glass jars filled with colored water in the front window. In those days
we were happy to keep away from such stores except once in a while when
there was a prescription to be filled or a postage stamp to be bought.
And the reason was that these places did not express life, enthusiasm
and interest. The modern drug store, cigar store, and practically every
other kind of store is attractive, inviting and so filled with human
buying suggestions that it is almost a general thing to come out with
more than we had planned to buy. Human interest and service are the
things that encourage business and make it prosper.

The most commonplace of things take on interest if the story is properly
told. We find full-page advertisements of a bottle of ink, a cake of
yeast and a toothbrush—the most everyday sort of things imaginable, but
although the cost of the ads. is at least five thousand dollars for each
issue of the magazine, they draw enough business to pay for themselves.
The reason for this is that the story is made interesting enough so that
it will be read, certain points of advantage are brought out; the reader
then remembers that he needs, say, a toothbrush, is anxious to try the
one he now knows something about and—lo! the sale is made. If all this
is possible in a printed story, how much greater are the possibilities
in personal selling? Take a cue from the ad. man and put life into your


There are many articles that can be well sold through advertising alone.
Occasionally we find an advertising man who has such faith in
advertising that he considers it to be the cure for all business ills.
It is a tremendous force, but there are a great many articles,
especially those that call for spending a fair sum of money, that must
finally be sold by salesmanship—and, of course, shoes are included in
this class. Certain things there are, on the other hand, that the
customer is willing to buy simply by calling for so many of this, that
or some other article. But with shoes it is different. No automatic
vending machine, where the customer puts in the price, turns the handle
and receives a pair of shoes of a certain size and color, will ever
serve the purpose. Advertising helps the salesman but by no means does
it draw from his importance. If there were any doubt on this point we
would have but to consider, if it should be necessary to discontinue
either personal selling or advertising, which of the two it would be.

Window and show case displays are very effective means of advertising
that serve to focus or centralize the thought of the customer on some
few styles of shoes. The customer’s first idea is that he wants to buy a
pair of shoes. Whatever enthusiasm he has is spread over the whole line
of shoe styles. If he can see in the window or display case one style
that appeals to him, his enthusiasm and desire is centralized. It is for
the salesman then simply to complete the sale from that point, provided,
of course, that the shoe selected proves to be what is wanted. Newspaper
advertising has the same effect. It centralizes the customer’s desire on
the one or two styles advertised and brings the man into the store with
a definite idea in mind rather than simply a vague notion.

The importance of the inside display case to suggest a second pair of
shoes, hosiery, shoe dressings and the like, should always be borne in
mind. The salesman does not need to rely alone on describing the
article, but he may actually show it to the customer, thus making a
positive suggestion to his mind. This is mentioned here briefly in its
relation to advertising but it will later be treated more fully.


With one of the large concerns selling goods direct to the user there is
a man of peculiar ability who has succeeded, although in deciding his
business problems he purposely sets aside every suggestion of enthusiasm
so that his decision may not be influenced by it. His whole basis of
calculation is fixed on facts and figures. If it is a purchase he is
making the whole consideration is that of price compared with other like
qualities. If it is a matter of making enlargements or improvements to
the factory, the question is, “What will be the cost and the advantages
to the business?” All along the line it is simply facts he accepts.

The personality of this man calls for comment because it is the
exceptional case. Most normal people are governed in what they say and
do by enthusiasm. It is a spirit or emotion that draws men away from the
humdrum of things, shows them something better and fires them with a
determination to go after it. The late Theodore Roosevelt was one of the
fine examples of men who have been fired with enthusiasm. So great was
his enthusiasm that when he got an idea his whole personality became
ablaze until he carried out his purpose and changed the idea into a

Successful salesmen must have enthusiasm. It does not necessarily need
to be of a kind we see at the ball game when a player on the home team
makes a home-run, but it must be a spirit that gives the man an
incentive to improve continually the quality of his service to the
customer, that aims to furnish the goods best suited to the customer’s
needs and means, that builds his confidence and adds to the salesman’s


The manager in one of the big stores in the West recently made the
statement that the way he and his men keep themselves up to snuff in
their enthusiasm and selling effort is to begin each morning as though
it were the first morning on the job, with as many new things to learn
and to do that day as there were on the first day. To keep up steam
means that the man should take an inventory of himself to see what
progress he has made or how much better a salesman he is today than he
was a week ago or a month or a year ago. If he had a good book last week
he should use that as a mark to shoot at this week, rather than as a
reason why he can afford to let up on his effort for a few days.
Yesterday’s record is past and so he should forget it except in so far
as it may serve as a stimulus to fresh effort.

In speaking of “books,” many successful retail shoe buyers and managers
look upon these records of daily sales as bugbears threatening the true
spirit of the shoe salesman’s service. No satisfactory substitute has as
yet been found for the sales book, and so the average store management
has to accept the situation and make the best of it. It is true that the
mere fact of a book being kept has an influence on the salesman which,
if not carefully guarded against, will result in his giving each
customer a short measure of service. If the mind of the clerk is on his
book primarily it does not make for the best attention to the fine
points of service. It is a delicate question. The successful salesman
gives no particular thought to his book but rather devotes one hundred
per cent of himself to serving his customers; letting the book take care
of itself. Such salesmen, as a matter of fact, do not need to worry
about their books—they are certain to be successful. It is recommended
to all shoe salesmen that they devote the fullest attention to service;
knowing full well that perfection in service will certainly produce
satisfied customers and increasing books.

To repeat, there is no standing still; we are either going ahead or
moving backward, and the only sure way to prevent back-sliding is to
make each day count for something more than the one that preceded. This
is a matter of keeping up steam.

The position of the salesman should be somewhere between the buyer and
the seller. He owes it to the customer to serve his best interest; to do
everything possible to give him every advantage in the bargain. On the
other hand, the salesman is the representative of the house that employs
him and he is certainly expected to back it up at every turn.

The salesman who takes his job seriously, and such a man is the only one
who makes anything out of his job, recognizes this responsibility at
once. At first there might seem to be a gap between both sides of the
bargain that would make the salesman’s double loyalty impossible. But
high class business methods of the day have brought closely together
these two interests. There is a mutual understanding that only as they
are both well served can there be permanent satisfaction. The house
cannot give service if it conducts its business at a loss and the
customer will not be pleased and will not continue his business unless
he gets full value in what he buys. When taken in this light the
salesman’s responsibility as the connecting link between the seller and
the buyer is one of double service, and incidentally there is a double
advantage. A well-served customer means a steady customer and that in
turn means more business and bigger earnings for the salesman and the

No business organization would be so foolish as to hold itself out as
being perfect. It is operated by human beings rather than by machines,
and that implies there are always bound to be some mistakes. The best
the house can do is to make every effort to reduce mistakes to a
minimum. In quality of goods and in quality of service there is the
possibility of an occasional slip-up, and right here the salesman is
called in to show his loyalty and enthusiasm in the face of what might
develop to be the loss of profitable business. The weak or unsteady man
is bowled over in the face of opposition but the strong man is made
better and stronger by it. Every reasonable customer is willing to
accept an explanation of the true facts, and is glad to know that he has
not purposely been taken advantage of.

Have faith in the goods and the house, recognize the possibility of
error and go out of your way to set the customer right when the “kick”
is registered.


Three or four years ago a young man who had not had a great deal of
business experience took up the selling of an electrical carpet sweeper
for household use. This he was to offer in a house-to-house canvas over
a limited territory especially assigned to him. Before starting out he
read all the circulars prepared by the selling department and watched
demonstrations made at the office. Armed with his equipment and a
prepared selling talk the young man started in his new field. Most of
the women proved to be interested to get a “close-up” of the bagpipe, as
one of them called it, and even listened to the selling talk, but when
it was all over—there was no sale.

For a week the same experience went on until finally the salesman’s
young wife thought she would try how it worked around the house. She
hitched it up and tried it on the hall rug. The result was fine, and she
then tested it on the furniture, the curtains and finally on a suit of
clothes. “It’s a wonder,” she said, “and I must have one. We can’t
afford to be without it.” She got it, of course, but the important
point, as far as we are concerned, is that the man was given in those
few minutes the best selling talk he could possibly use and the only one
he ever needed from that time on. The experience was the turning point
in his career.

What could a cut-and-dry selling talk amount to as compared with the
genuine enthusiasm of the man who had just installed a sweeper for his
wife’s own convenience? He had now sold himself on the merit of his
goods, and there could be no doubt or failing in his voice when
approaching the customer. Now he could talk in terms of facts rather
than opinions.

“But,” some shoe salesman may say, “we don’t have to demonstrate the
shoe to the customer, she knows what it is and all about it.” Provided
the salesman is simply to take the order it is true that he does not
need to demonstrate or convince. The genuine salesman, however, does
more. He will sell the customer the shoe she _ought_ to have. He will
probably sell her a more expensive one, or he may sell her two or three
pairs, and at the same time have her realize that she is being served
best in buying them. This is real salesmanship, and it is only possible
of a man who is thoroughly _sold_ on the superior merit of his own goods
and his house—who has made the first sale to himself.


“Cheer up; better times are coming.” That is a cheerful tune to sing,
but it may be misleading unless we realize that it does not mean that
time alone will make times better. What we are today is simply a
reflection of what we made ourselves during the yesterdays; and next
year we shall have to show only what we make of opportunities today.
None of us is in business just for a day. The shoe salesman has a future
which is, first of all, to make himself a better salesman. Therefore his
responsibility today is to put forward everything he has in order to
reach the goal he has set. Enthusiasm is the power needed to drive the
effort day by day.


Every person in business realizes that there are as many shades of
honesty as there are shades of color in the rainbow. Sometimes we might
very well be considered dishonest simply by standing by and saying
nothing. Any misunderstanding a customer might get concerning a matter
of importance connected with the sale should rightly be corrected by the
salesman. There is the possibility that the customer may never learn the
true fact and that no harm will come as a result of an untrue statement
or mistaken idea, but the chances are the other way, and men of
experience know that the results are fatal to further satisfactory
business when the fact of deception is realized.

Business today is conducted on the basis of mutual confidence in the
honor of recognized people. An example of this is in connection with
transactions on the stock exchanges where business running into millions
of dollars every day is conducted on the basis of a spoken “yes” and
“no” between men. A buyer might easily claim he had not made the
bargain, and in so doing save himself sometimes thousands of dollars,
but he would sooner break his bond than break his word. Wholesale buying
of shoes and all other merchandise is carried on in such enormous
quantities that the honor system must be depended upon to a very great
degree. No one is more despised either in business or private life than
the man whose word cannot be depended upon and he must sooner or later
descend to his own level.

Honesty in the salesman relates both to the house and to the customer.
Any man who would stoop to stealing of stock is, of course, simply a
plain everyday thief and the law provides for him. On the other hand,
the matter of time as a thing of value is sometimes overlooked. There
are only a limited number of working minutes in a business day and they
rank pretty high in money value. They should be spent with as much care
as we spend our money.

The customer is the man who pays the salaries. Without his business
there could be no sales force, no stock and no organization. For that
reason he deserves the best that can be given. He should not be oversold
nor should he be sold under a mistaken impression. It may mean a little
less business this time but the difference will be more than made up on
the next sale.


In listening sometimes to the salesman explaining the wonderful merits
of his newly discovered hair tonic, or perhaps to the great
possibilities of profits from some undeveloped copper mines in which he
gives us the “opportunity” to buy some shares, the one thing that
impresses us above all else is the great enthusiasm of the salesman.
When he tells us that the tonic will grow hair on the door knob or that
the quality of ore taken from the mine shows that the stock will pay a
hundred per cent profit the first year, the man is either
over-enthusiastic, if he believes what he says, or he is just plainly
dishonest. From this it is clear that the dividing line between the two,
so far as the customer is concerned, is not very sharply drawn, and that
there is a possibility of the salesman being judged as dishonest when he
may be absolutely honest, but perhaps over-enthusiastic in making the

The goods should be sold only on the merits they have and not on the
merits the customer may expect to find in them at the price he is
paying. The duty of the salesman under such conditions is to explain
frankly that he is offering the maximum of style, fit and quality he is
able to give, either at the stated price or from the selection he has in
stock. If the customer insists on better quality he will, in most cases,
be able to raise his idea of price. If the style, fit or color is not
satisfactory and there is no further selection to be offered it is
better to say so frankly rather than to force on him something he does
not want. This does not mean, however, that the salesman will show his
stock with the attitude of “take it or leave it.” What it does mean is
that he will use every effort he has to satisfy the customer by getting
him to realize that what has been offered is the best that can be given,
that it is the maximum of quality and the whole range of style and fit
to be had at present. If, then, the salesman is not able to land the
sale and the customer is still unsatisfied, he should explain the facts
just as they are, with all the courtesy possible, and put the decision
up to the customer.

R. C. Hearne, buyer and manager of the Daniels and Fisher Stores
Company, Denver, Colorado, has made this important point:

“There is as much cleverness in missing a customer as there is in
selling her. A customer properly missed is a future customer. For
instance, a woman enters your store and you fail to sell her, but you
must not let her walk out with simply a ‘good-afternoon.’ Say instead,
’I would like to have you come in at a little later date’—mentioning the
date—’when we expect to have a new line, which I would like to have you

“This means that you have probably stamped on your customer’s mind the
thought that she will call at your store in the future. Nine times out
of ten she will come back to your place of business.”

Every salesman is working to build up a following of regular customers.
This he can do only by changing the occasional customer or the “looker”
into a “regular,” and this is possible only as a result of genuine,
sympathetic service.


If for any reason it is not possible to give the customer some service
he asks for, he should be given an _understanding_ then and there rather
than a _promise that cannot be filled_. “I’ll see to it personally,” the
salesman may say, “that these shoes are delivered to you tomorrow.” He
then passes along the box in the regular way. It may be delayed for a
day, the customer is disappointed because he had planned to use the
shoes on a special occasion, and in turn his confidence in the salesman
is lost. To the salesman it was a small matter; he took it for granted
that the delivery would be made without delay, but he did not “see to it
personally,” as he promised he would. He should either have done what he
promised, or he should not have offered the service unless he could have
carried out the promise as cheerfully as it was made. And that, by the
way, is the test to be made of every promise before it is given.

“I’ll let you know when the new style is received,” says the unthinking
salesman, in a moment of enthusiasm and genuine effort to serve the
customer. But then he promptly forgets his promise and the incident is
closed. With the customer, it is different, however. She waits a
reasonable time to be notified but receives no word. Naturally she
assumes the style has not been received and, being in need of the shoes,
she goes elsewhere and makes her purchase. The sale is lost and the
chances are great that her future business also will be lost, provided
she gets service in making the outside purchase. Taken in this light it
is a pretty serious matter, both for the salesman and the house.

Enthusiasm is a wonderful business-building power, but it must be
sincere and it must be lasting.

                               CHAPTER V


So far we have been considering those important matters that have to do
with the salesman’s relationship to _himself_—the responsibility he has
to build for himself a healthy mind, and business spirit. We are now
interested to consider his relationship to the person who supplies the
power to operate the whole machinery of commerce, who foots all the
store’s expenses, and who regulates the size of the salesman’s pay—the

A man whose career as a salesman had extended over many years, and who
had been unusually successful in his work, was once asked before a large
gathering of business men to tell them what great power he considered
responsible for his success in selling goods. His reply was the simple
and beautiful fact that he learned to _love_ his customers. What he
meant, of course, was that he had trained himself to regard each
customer and to show him the same consideration and interest as though
the customer were his warmest friend. Mention love, and we immediately
think of Romeo and Juliet. Romeo, with his fiery devotion, would have
made a wonderful salesman if he had applied the same enthusiasm to the
commercial field.

The man who said he loved his customers was not some soft, wishy-washy
dreamer who gazed soulfully into his customer’s eyes. He was a strong,
vigorous, man’s man, who understood enough about human nature to know
that it is sympathetic interest coming from the heart that the customer
wants and for which he is happy to pay. He wants to feel that his
request to be served will be considered by the salesman not simply as
another series of mechanical motions, but rather as an opportunity to be
of genuine help.


The kind of respect and consideration a gentleman gives to a guest in
his own home is the standard by which the successful salesman measures
his service to the customer. There is nothing false or artificial in it;
simply a genuine effort to please. When reduced to this basis the art of
good salesmanship is not a series of cut-and-dry rules to tell the
beginner how many steps to take forward when greeting a customer, when
to reach up to remove a box from the stock, case, or when and how to
accept the customer’s money. Those are simply mechanical operations and
should not constitute a more important part of the sale than the arm
motion of a speaker in delivering an address. To the man who has his
heart in his work the mechanical motions called for in conducting a sale
will come as naturally as breathing.

In line with the thought of natural selling, it is evident that a
salesman should not rush at the customer. To pass someone else who is
approaching a customer with the idea of serving him means to cause
resentment both in the customer’s mind and in that of the fellow-worker.

Of course, the customer will be treated with politeness, but this again
is more of a forced expression of consideration. The trick monkey that
accompanies the Italian organ grinder has been trained to take off his
little red cap whenever anyone put a cent in the tin can. This is a
mechanical movement that might be considered politeness, but surely it
does not express any part of the salesman’s responsibility in serving
his customer. The salesman is _courteous_, which implies that there is
in him a genuine regard and an honest effort to show every respect to
which his customer is entitled. Courtesy is the habit of being
polite—that means it is a natural expression and not artificial.

The impression made upon the customer at the time he first enters the
store or department depends upon the manner in which he is
received—whether his host is glad to see him or whether he seems bored
by the fact that another visitor has come. When he realizes that he is
welcome there comes at once a warmth of friendship that removes his
natural tendency to restraint. The salesman’s responsibility is to
remove every obstacle that stands between the meeting and the final
sale. A cold reception will prejudice a customer against the house and
the salesman. Therefore, greet him cordially, so that the sale may
commence on even ground. This will save both time and selling effort.

H. T. Conner, vice-president of the George E. Keith Stores Company,
believes that a natural smile on the face of the salesman as he greets
the customer governs the success of the meeting. He says: “The first
duty of the salesman is to smile. A great big smile always wins. Be good
natured. No matter how grouchy your customer may be you can rest assured
that a pleasant word or two will set him right. Look your customer
straight in the eye and convince him that you are at his service. Do
this and the sale is yours. Never permit the grouch to get the better of
your patience, for it means lost time and ten to one you will not be any
good to serve the next customer.”


To know the customer’s name and to greet him by name sets aside many of
the first obstacles in the way of getting started with the sale. By all
means the art of remembering names should be cultivated. George Boldt,
who until his death a few years ago was proprietor of the
Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York, built up a fortune of millions on the
strength of his great personality. He recognized that men and women feel
more at home, and are also mildly flattered, when addressed by name. Mr.
Boldt made it his business to remember the names and faces of thousands
of his guests, in order that he might greet them cordially as they
entered. To remember all these names he followed the plan of repeating
each one over and over to himself when first hearing it. He pictured in
his mind how the name would look when written and then associated it
with the appearance, voice and manner of the individual man or woman.
This required some effort, of course, but it is important enough to be
seriously considered by everyone who is constantly serving people.

In Chicago there is a woman in the shoe department of a large store who
has built up a large following of customers in much the same way. She
has gone a step further, however, in that she remembers also their
special preferences, when they made the last purchase, and, if there are
children in the family whom she has served, she remembers also their
names. When we consider that her income is two or three times as great
as that of other salespeople in the same department, who will say that
it isn’t worth the effort?


The summer resort shop requires a special style, color or material in a
shoe in order to satisfy the needs of its customers; the professional
man prefers one style above another; the laboring man has his
preference; the Westerner has his choice, which is altogether different
from what the city man in the East requires, and so on it goes, each man
for his own needs and preferences. But not so in the quality of service
required by the customer. Human nature is the same from Maine to
California, in the ditch digger and in the bank president. The salesman
who does not recognize the truth of this fact cannot grow. The
successful salesman of the East is also the successful man of the West,
the North and the South, but the salesman of narrow vision and small
purpose is a failure wherever he goes.


A splendid thing it is, and a mark of genuine service, to recognize a
customer, to know his preferences and to take a personal interest in
him. But what a different thing it is and how important it is for the
salesman to know the difference between this and forced familiarity or
attempts at “showing off.” The latter can do nothing but cause the
customer to lose his regard and perhaps go elsewhere to be served. The
man of experience in business recognizes the difference and governs
himself accordingly. He continually bears in mind the fact that the
customer has come on a business matter and that his sole interest is to
be well served with the goods he needs.


Without giving the matter a thought, a salesman, or a group of them, may
sometimes take station at the front of the store with their backs toward
the door while they engage in conversation. Although this may seem a
minor matter it is nevertheless important, for the reason that the
effect given is not good on a person entering the store. A person’s back
suggests coldness and a spirit of unfriendliness. Make every effort to
establish and hold the good graces of the customer—this is necessary.
Meet your man face to face. Let him know you are pleased to serve him
and he will be just as pleased to give you the business.


Here is the experience of a man as told by him at a recent sales
convention. On his way to the office one morning about nine o’clock he
dropped in at a nearby store to make a purchase of a pair of shoes.
Entering, he noticed three of the salesmen grouped around one of the
display cases, listening attentively to a member of the party who had
full sway of the interest. At the farther end of the store was the only
other salesman on the floor, and he was busy with the stock. In relating
the experience the man further mentioned that he waited for a minute or
two (which seemed to him like five or ten), and finally turned to make
his way to the door. Not until then, when he was about to leave, did one
of the number break away from the group and call out, “Something I can
do for you?” Under the circumstances the answer, of course, was “No,”
and the door closed on a perfectly good sale that was missed.

This man was not a grouch by any means. He was a busy business man and
thought enough of his time and the day’s work before him to become
restless when called upon to waste his minutes when there was no
occasion for it. Very likely the story that seemed so important to the
salesmen at the time was the recital of some ordinary experience of the
night before—whatever it was it was not important enough to warrant
losing the man’s business, not only on that sale but ever since. Anyone
who thinks about it for a minute will realize that idle talk on
unimportant matters, gossip, story-telling and the like, is just plain
waste. It wastes the time of the man who talks and of those who
listen—and any person around cannot well help listening. There are
certain times in most stores and departments when trading is quiet and
there is no important current work to be done. This can be well used as
an opportunity to get acquainted with the trade papers, catalogs and
good business books, or to talk over with fellow-workers store problems,
experiences, ideas, etc.

Then there is “kidding” with some other of the men or girls while
waiting on a customer. This is fatal. As far as retaining the customer’s
respect and confidence is concerned the salesman might just as well tell
him that he is of no importance—and that is practically what it amounts

The following is another form of side chatter to be guarded against.
Consider what an impression this would have on you if you were in the
customer’s position:

_Customer_: “Do you have this same style in a vici kid?”

_Clerk_ (turning around): “Hey, Joe—do we have this style in a vici

_Joe_: “No.”

_Customer_: “What is the price of this pair?”

_Clerk_ (turning around and holding shoe in the air): “Joe, what are we
getting for these?”

_Joe_: “Nine-fifty.”

When next the customer comes in to buy, if he does, it is a certainty
that he will either choose Joe or someone who seemed to have some reason
to be called a salesman. Successful selling is based on confidence.
Anything that destroys confidence injures the salesman.


Washington Irving, the famous American author, tells of one of the early
Dutch settlers in New York who made it his special rule in public always
to be silent. At public gatherings he would be present but would say
nothing, and when a discussion arose he would smoke his pipe soberly and
silently look on. After the question had been decided and all
differences of opinion had been set aside the men would turn to the
silent friend and find on his face an expression that meant: “Of course,
I knew the answer all the time, but was letting you younger boys work it
out for yourselves.” In time he came to be considered the wise man of
the community.

But this sort of thing does not go in retail selling. The customer must
be made to feel comfortable and at home. A man coming into the store
said that he would like to look at a shoe, size 7D, the same as the one
he pointed out in the window. Turning about, without comment, the
salesman made his way to the rear of the store to select the shoe,
leaving the customer to look over the row of empty chairs and choose one
for himself. Returning the salesman seated himself on the stool and,
without comment, removed the customer’s old shoe and finally, without
comment, placed the new one on the foot, laced it up, and then only then
did he break forth into speech with, “There, how’s that?”

Until then the anxious customer silently wondered whether, perhaps, the
shoe was one he should not have asked for, whether possibly he had
selected a chair he should not have taken, or whether it was just a case
of the salesman not liking him. Surely he could not be expected to know
whether the salesman was a silent wise man, making an effort to please,
or just a silent man not sufficiently interested even to extend the
customary courtesies.

A general rule on this point that will never go wrong is to say at least
enough so that the customer will understand you are on his side.


Another way of expressing the idea of customer concentration is just
this: Give the customer, while you are serving him, one hundred per cent
of your attention, interest, thought and knowledge of the business. Any
measure less than that means there will be a loss somewhere and the wise
salesman will make sure it is not his loss.

One of the retailers with a long chain of successful stores, in speaking
of this, brought out the distinction between classes of salespeople in
this way:

“Salespersons may be divided into two classes: those who simply wait
upon the customers and those who sell and _produce business_. The
members of the first class perform their work like machines; they sell
goods asked for by customers and their chief thought is to get rid of
the customer as quickly as possible, and, perhaps, to get all the money
from him they can. They have _no suggestions to make and no advice to
give_. They know little more about the goods than the price.

“The other class of salespersons take an interest in their customers to
make them satisfied with the service given. They firmly believe that a
sale is not complete unless satisfaction on the part of the customer
accompanies it. They firmly believe in the goods they are offering and
they communicate this confidence to their customers. They know that a
satisfied customer is a walking advertisement for their store.”

The salesman should bear in mind that the customer is not a shoe expert,
that the person of average means does not buy a pair more than two or
three times a year, and that he actually needs helpful advice and
suggestions. By learning, first of all, just what it is the customer has
in mind to buy, the salesman, with his knowledge of the stock and of the
business, is well able to offer a genuine service. An important point is
well brought out above, that a customer, rightly served, is a living
advertisement, not alone for the store but also for the man who serves


A splendid thing it is, and a needful part of every salesman’s make-up,
to have loyalty for his house and a firm conviction in its high standard
of business character. On the other hand, in his relations with the
customer he should always remember that there is in the customer’s mind
just one question and that is, “In what way will this thing be of
benefit to _me_?” He is interested in the honesty of the house and the
guarantee behind its word, he is interested in the salesman who serves
him, he is interested in the style of the shoe, in its fit and wearing
qualities only in so far as they are to be of special benefit to
himself. It is for the salesman to appreciate and to take advantage of
this fact in his treatment of the customer.

This same idea has been expressed in another way, as follows: “The man
who is to be a success in selling must learn to ‘put the buyer in the
picture.’” This is just another way of saying that the salesman, in his
effort to serve, must convince the customer, at every turn, of the
special advantages the goods hold for him. If the customer is a stout
woman she is not interested to know that the shoe would look
exceptionally well on a tall slender person, nor does she care
especially that there are some very nice shoes in stock at twice the
price she has to spend. From start to finish talk shoes for stout women
of her height and around the price she has to spend, bearing in mind, of
course, that she may be able to increase her idea of price.

In selling women’s suits and dresses, and men’s suits, too, there is a
little trick of the trade to get the goods on the back of the
prospective customer as soon as possible. The salesperson might show the
customer a fine picture of a slim young miss wearing a similar pattern
of dress as the one in which the woman expressed an interest, or the man
might be shown the picture of a college boy wearing the same model as
the one he inquired about, but the experienced salesperson knows better
than to waste time that way. The moment he finds a suit in which the
man, for instance, has shown an interest, he asks him to slip on the
coat “just for the size,” and then leads him over to the mirror. What he
has done, you will notice, is to place the customer in the picture,
which is just exactly what appeals to every buyer.

Follow this cue from the experience of the clothing salesman. Plan the
whole effort to please the customer from the moment he enters the store
until you bid him “Good-by,” by showing him _himself_ as the central
figure in the picture.


Someone has told an exaggerated yarn of a young sales clerk who had been
given as a word of advice by a well-meaning salesman of more experience
the suggestion that he should show a special interest in each customer,
because upon that would depend his success. The first customer to
approach the clerk was an old lady heavily weighted with the worries she
had accumulated and nursed for almost sixty years. Being comfortably
seated in one of the chairs her mind began its usual pastime of
freshening up the worries of the past, and the old lady became
talkative. Determined that he would be a success as a salesman,
according to what little he had been told of it, the clerk showed every
indication of interest and sympathy—even grief as the sad story

The old lady, encouraged and comforted because she had found such a good
listener, continued on and on and on, and as she continued her recital
became more expressive and her grief more bitter. At any rate the two of
them enjoyed the sorrow together, and after the lady had been partly
revived with a glass of water and a large fan she was then able with
assistance to reach the door and make her way homeward. She had lost all
thought of the sale and had wasted an hour of her own time and the

The trouble here was that in his effort to follow instructions the clerk
had allowed himself to lose sight of the fact that he was selling shoes
and not sympathy. Certain types of good customers there are who like to
talk. The experienced salesman learns the knack of listening without
encouraging a long yarn that will take his time and prevent him from
serving the next waiting customer.

As with the customer so with the salesman there is sometimes a tendency
to drift to things that have no relation to the sale he is trying to
make. Remember that the sale is a courteous business transaction and not
a social visit. Stick to the sale and make it _pleasant business_ from
start to finish.


“You wouldn’t want a nice pair of canvas shoes, would you?” ventured the
clerk. And the answer suggested to the customer was, “No, thank you.”

The salesman is not interested in knowing what the customer may _not_
want and it certainly is not part of his job to suggest “No” to the
customer. Consider the effect on the customer’s mind of the same idea
expressed in _positive_ terms rather than negative. “We have just
received some new styles of pretty canvas shoes that I know you will be
glad to see,” and then the salesman is on his way to produce a pair.
When put in some such positive form there is less than one chance in ten
that the customer will not remain and be well pleased to look at the
shoes. Then a new sale begins from that point on.

“You did not ask for tan shoes; you asked for black,” says the
inexperienced salesman. Although what he says is absolutely true, it is
bound to set up in the mind of the customer a feeling of antagonism
which will have to be overcome later before the clerk can number this
man among his friendly customers. Anything that suggests a negative
thought in the customer’s mind must be faithfully avoided. It is bound
to kill confidence and enthusiasm.

“Don’t you like that style? Why not?” The reaction on the customer’s
mind as a result of that question will probably be that he did not come
in to explain his preference in style but to buy himself a pair of
shoes. Take advantage of the point he has made, that he does not care
for the style. It is evident that you have misjudged his taste. Make a
positive suggestion out of it by letting him understand that you are
interested to know first how the shoe is for fit and that you have a
different style that you believe will meet his ideas on appearance and

To ask a customer “What size do you wear?” might give him the impression
that the salesman does not know his business. If he is the kind of man
who keeps those things in his head, he will probably mention the size by
the time the shoe is removed from the foot. If he does not, the
experienced salesman will carefully use his measuring stick and then
confidently start off for the stock. There are, in fact, some stores
that have established a special rule among the salesmen that the old
shoe is not to be referred to for size, but that the measuring stick is
to be used at once. To repeat for emphasis: Most men do not buy shoes
often enough to remember all the details of size, style, materials and
the like. They are not experts but come to the salesman to receive
expert service.


Following the thought of suggesting only positive ideas is the important
point to avoid argument with the customer. Argument is negative, and
does not serve to get the customer in a buying frame of mind. He may
make some statement that is absolutely without foundation concerning
quality, make or price. Whatever it may be the salesman can do nothing
better to strengthen himself and the reputation of his goods than to
give the customer the true facts in the form of confident suggestions
rather than sledge-hammer blows of argument. For example:

“There is no occasion for these present high prices of shoes. The
manufacturers and the dealers are simply taking advantage of conditions
to make big profits,” says the customer.

“Yes, the prices certainly are higher than those we have been accustomed
to lately,” says the salesman, agreeing but preparing the customer to
accept the facts, “but when we consider that the price of hides and
skins has advanced anywhere from two hundred to five hundred per cent,
due to scarcity, and that labor costs are close on to seventy-five per
cent higher than they were a short time ago”—and the salesman need not
go further in most cases. He has “let the customer down easy” and at the
same time given him the facts. The result is a better understanding of
the true conditions and a higher regard for the salesman’s ability. It
distresses any man to have himself brought face to face with the fact
that his statement is without foundation. The salesman should plan, as
in this instance, to offer his facts so skillfully that the customer
will not recognize that he is being convinced of his error.

Concerning the goods of competitors, the salesman in most instances will
find it best, by all means, to make no effort to go into the relative
merits of quality, style, fit, business policy or any other such
questions. He is not in business to advertise his competitors, and
therefore the more he leaves them in the background of the picture the
greater will be his success in selling his own line. This point is
treated more fully in the chapter on “Showing the Goods.”


During the war period everyone learned to accept gladly war-time
portions, of food especially, and also to a great extent, war-time
portions of service. That term “war-time” meant to us just a little bit
less or just a little lower quality than what we had been accustomed to
and what we needed in order to be perfectly content.

Although a salesman may be busy and have several customers waiting to be
served, there is no need for him to render war-time service. A few words
of explanation to the customer the moment he or she enters the store
will bridge over the delay caused by the salesman’s inability to give
instant service.

Courtesy and consideration of the customer’s needs does not, as a rule,
require more time than slip-shod service and the delay caused by it. As
already mentioned, the general run of men and women come to the store on
a matter of business and they do not have any special desire to remain
any longer than necessary to get well served in their requirements.

A full measure of service, then, is the just dessert of every customer.
It pays dividends for the store and increases the salesman’s salary.

                               CHAPTER VI


When in 1917 the annual convention of the National Shoe Retailers
Association was held in Chicago an incident occurred which, although
small in itself, emphasized one of the very important principles of
selling. Owing to some confusion in the cloak room of the auditorium in
which the convention was being held, two of the members of the
association, both retail dealers, were unable to secure their hats and
were thus under the necessity of making an immediate purchase. They
entered one of the nearby stores, naturally somewhat embarrassed at
being without hats, mentioned the conditions briefly to the clerk and
asked to be fitted. It should be borne in mind, of course, that these
two gentlemen, although experienced shoe dealers, did not know any more
about the subject of hats than the average customer knows about the
subject of shoes.

The sales clerk, without showing any interest or consideration at the
embarrassment of his customers, responded with the question, “What kind
of a hat do you want?” After a minute’s thought they both decided that
it had better be a soft felt hat. This was followed with the second
question, “What size do you wear?” Neither of the unfortunate customers
could recall the size of the hat he had been wearing and was unable to
fall back upon the usual custom of referring to the size mark in the old
hat. This meant another slight annoyance and delay in trying on several
hats before the clerk was able to learn the sizes. After hunting the
stock awhile, the clerk at last produced one or two styles of narrow
brimmed felt hats which proved entirely unsuited to the customers, who
were both rather tall and heavy. Evidently here was a man who did not
know his job. Finally taking the matter into their own hands, the two
men decided they would content themselves with caps until they could
find a _salesman_ who could give them help in deciding what they should

The purchase was made and the price paid, but it is evident that the
clerk could not be considered to have _sold_ his customers. From start
to finish these men were _buying_, and the clerk proved to be more of a
hindrance than a help.

In retail shoe selling it would be rare indeed to find in one sale so
many features of poor salesmanship, but it is clear, of course, that the
presence of any one of them would operate to reduce the customer’s
confidence and satisfaction. From the shoe salesman’s own experience he
would have realized at once the desirability of greeting the customers
cheerfully and of showing an interest in an unusual experience that
brought the men in from the street bareheaded. He would not have asked a
blunt question concerning the kind of hat desired but would, at a
moment’s glance, have recognized his customers as business men, would
have taken notice of the quality and color of their suits, and then
would have made some such positive suggestion as, “I have here a nice
felt hat that will look well on you.” He would have known immediately
that a large man would require a hat with either a medium or wide brim.
And although he had not been told the hat size he would have known
enough about his business to know that men of this size would not wear
less than a size seven. He would have brought that size, or perhaps one
larger, and would have handed it to the customer with the remark, “I
believe this will serve you for size.”

All these things would have been genuine selling effort. In the case
mentioned the men were well able to buy the best hat in the house, and
two hats at eight or ten dollars apiece would have been more easily
_sold_ than the caps at two-fifty were _bought_. Between the two there
is as much difference as there is between day and night. One is bright,
cheerful, intelligent; the other nothing more than a vague, half-hearted
burlesque of selling.


For the purpose of analyzing a sale and in order to show just what are
the points to be considered, the selling process may be represented by
four steps leading upward to the final sale, as follows:

                                                       Action—The Sale
                                     Creating Desire
                   Building Interest
 Attracting Attention

The theory of selling is based on the idea that before it is possible to
proceed with any attempt to sell it is necessary first to get the
prospective customer to transfer his attention from other things and to
apply it to the article to be sold. While walking along the street our
main attention and interest may be on those things immediately around
us. If suddenly we hear the hum of a motor from above we at once think
of flying and our attention is transferred to the aeroplane passing
overhead. The means of attracting our attention was the hum of the motor
or perhaps the action of the people around us.

In retail selling the matter of attracting attention is to some extent,
but not all by any means, taken care of by newspaper advertising, window
and store displays, the customer’s acquaintance with the store, and the
like. It is for the salesman, however, if he is to _sell_ rather than
simply to take orders, to guide the customer’s attention and build a
genuine _interest_ in the goods; to sell so that the customer will
listen and respond to his selling talk, examine the goods and agree
perhaps to try them on. These things show interest.

However, interest alone does not sell. We may be interested to examine a
German fighting tank brought over for exhibition, but that in itself
does not create in us any desire to own one. The effort of the young man
to sell the electric carpet sweeper, already mentioned, caused interest
on the part of the housewives, but the action stopped there. He was at
first unable to create desire and as a result there was no sale.

It is for the salesman to so plan his effort that the customer will get
from it a desire to own the goods. Assume, for example, that the
customer has bought one pair of shoes and that you have been able to get
his interest in a pair of patent leather pumps which he is now
examining. Up to this point it may be he is examining them only because
they are a fine piece of workmanship, as he might examine an exhibit in
the art museum. However, that in itself does not make sales or profits.
It is for the salesman now to create a desire in the customer to add
that pair of pumps to his wardrobe.

The final stage of the sale is that of stimulating the buying action in
the customer; to assist him to the decision that he needs the goods and
that his desire to have them is greater than his desire to retain the
money. In the present chapter we are to consider the matter of
attracting the customer’s attention and of building his interest in the
goods. Later the important points of creating desire and of stimulating
action will be taken up.


The electric power to illuminate the store or home is controlled by
switches which serve to bring together or to separate the points of
contact. When the switch is thrown on the effect is one of bringing
together of the points of contact. As a result there is action; the
circuit is completed and light is produced. The first stages of the sale
may be likened to the action of the electric switch. If attention and
interest in the goods are properly guided by the salesman they will
without exception lead up to the action of buying on the part of the

A great point of importance is that of listening attentively to the
customer’s first remarks. Upon this may often depend the whole success
of the effort. If a woman calls for something _new_ that is at once a
means of establishing a point of contact on the basis of style. Talk
style and show the latest patterns and at once you have fixed her
attention and interest. If, in a certain shoe offered she should
compliment the heel but not quite approve of the color, you have here a
suggestion for further effort. Concentrate on the heel and any other
features that may have appealed to her and use this as the means of
establishing the contact. Concentrate on the strong points; speak of the
specially designed arch and of the beauty it gives the general
appearance of the whole shoe. This certainly does not mean to overstate
any facts but it does mean to make use of those intimations of
preference that the customer expresses to focus interest and to advance
the sale.

If a customer mentions the quality of strength in calling for a shoe, it
is safe to assume that wearing quality rather than style is the special
feature that will appeal to him. His appearance will usually indicate
the quality of shoe desired. Work with him on the matter of quality,
select the stock with that in mind principally and style only as a
second consideration.

Most parents in buying children’s shoes have foremost in mind the
important matter of getting a shoe that will allow freedom of movement
and natural growth of the feet. Perhaps in the first sentence spoken
some intimation of this will be made. Take advantage of it and use it.
Remember that it is the element of comfort the customer wants and that
the sale will progress with greater satisfaction all around according to
the salesman’s ability to understand what is wanted, and to deliver it.


The customer’s interest in the goods and also his desire of ownership is
influenced more than many salesmen realize by the way in which the goods
are handled. A young clerk with more spirit than experience, in bringing
a pair of satin slippers to the chair where his customer was seated,
allowed them to swing arm’s length at his side as he approached her.
This she noticed, and an impression of slip-shod handling was suggested.
Although the slippers were fresh stock, taken from the box just a moment
before, the customer insisted that they had the appearance of being
handled and requested another pair. In her mind, ruffled appearance was
associated with the manner in which she had seen the shoe handled by the
clerk. The expert diamond salesman handles a stone with all the
tenderness and care of a mother with her child; not because the diamond
means more to that salesman than the shoe does to the shoe salesman, but
because he understands human nature enough to realize that only in so
far as he shows an interest in the stone can he hope to have the
customer do so. If he slid the stone across the counter the sale would
suffer. If he should drop it in taking it out of the case the sale would
likely be lost.

The point to bear in mind in this connection is that the salesman is
asking the customer to make the goods his own. A dainty silk or satin
slipper should be handled daintily by the salesman; with just as much
care as the owner would give it upon using it the first time. On the
other hand, a strong, heavy outing shoe might be slapped firmly upon the
palm of the salesman’s hand. The heavy sound in this instance might be
expected to give the impression of strength and lasting qualities. All
of these things, although small in themselves, play an important part in
bringing up the customer’s attention and interest to the point of


“Something for you, mister?” as a part of the selling talk, is many
times worse than absolute silence. It is bad because it is as ancient,
tattered and torn as the “little old red shawl” itself. It stamps the
salesman as being without any originality and it is likely also to bore
the customer. Take it for granted that he wants something or else he
would not be in the store. Jump right into business and at the same time
get the customer on your side. Anything original such as, “May I serve
you?” or some variation, is good. Perhaps as good as anything else is a
smile and a cheerful “Good morning” or “Good afternoon.” The expressions
“Lady,” and “Mister,” have been tabooed for generations; they might
serve all right for a peanut stand but not in a high-class shoe store or
department. “Madam” and “Sir” are dignified and are greatly to be

The customer is always glad to see a sign of intelligent interest
concerning himself. If the salesman notices that the shoe just removed
has been bought from his house or if he recognizes the customer, it is
always good to ask with courtesy whether the shoe removed has given
satisfactory service. In most instances it is safe, of course, to assume
that the shoe has, or else the customer would not have returned. On the
other hand, there is the possibility of some dissatisfaction, and in
that case it is well to know the facts.

Among inexperienced salesmen there is the danger of laying too much
emphasis in the selling talk upon the price—in other words, making it a
matter of selling _prices_ rather than merchandise and service. The
customer has come to buy shoes; price is an important consideration with
him in all probability, but it is quality, style and fit that will
determine his satisfaction. If the salesman will devote himself
especially to these things, if he can assure his customer that the goods
are what he wants and that they will give him service, the matter of
price will, in most instances, be secondary. The slogan of a New York
retail house is that “The quality will be remembered long after the
price is forgotten.” There is a great deal expressed in this from the
standpoint of good merchandising. The salesman can do no better than to
make his appeal on the same basis.

Limit the number of questions directed to the customer. As mentioned
before, the customer may resent questions because of a feeling that he
came to be served rather than to be subjected to questioning. The sale
will proceed more smoothly if the salesman takes for granted that
certain minor points are satisfactory unless the customer makes some
mention of them to the contrary. If nothing is said concerning color,
style of heel, quality or kind of leather, it is a great deal better to
assume the customer’s satisfaction. To bring them up specifically with a
direct question means that an entirely new train of thought is started
in the customer’s mind, that he is required to make another decision and
that he will be hindered by confusion of thoughts in coming to his main
decision to buy.

Repetition of some point of special importance that may have slipped the
customer’s mind is an effective means to stimulate a decision. Great
care should be used in doing this because repetition of any point of
small importance will produce the effect of annoyance. If used at all,
let it be only on some point of importance on which the customer has
shown interest or concern.


The operation of the human mind in getting started on a train of thought
has been compared with that of a trolley car or automobile in getting
started from the condition of rest. It is not possible to apply the full
power at once and to get an immediate operation of the car at full speed
ahead. The power when increased gradually builds up the speed, and the
forward motion goes on so naturally that it becomes almost unnoticeable.
It is said that the human mind operates much the same when given an idea
in the form of a suggestion. To the shoe salesman this means that there
must be only a limited number of suggestions presented and that these
should be offered one after another only as the mind has time to get
started and under motion on the one preceding.

To make this more concrete, it may be assumed that the salesman has
offered his customer a certain style of shoe, that he has told the chief
points concerning it, and that the customer has made no reply. Should
the salesman at once produce another shoe and begin his talk concerning
it, the customer would become confused and be further away from a
decision than he was with only one pair to consider. Only after it is
clear that the first shoe is not the one wanted, or at the customer’s
special request, should others be offered. Give the customer’s mind a
chance to get accustomed to the suggestions already offered.

All suggestions made should be of a positive nature. Their purpose is to
assist the customer to a decision. The following illustration is given
to show the effect of a negative suggestion:

    The attention of a physician was attracted the other day by a
    shoe he noticed in the window of one of the city stores. Going
    in, he said to the clerk: “I’d like to see some of the styles
    you are showing in the line of Oxfords for summer. I don’t want
    to try on a pair just now, but I would like to have you show me
    three or four styles.”

    “Well,” said the clerk, “we haven’t very many Oxfords in stock
    just yet. Most of the styles that we will carry this summer are
    shown in the window. You can go out and look at them.”

    The customer did go out—and didn’t come back.

The suggestion of being too anxious to make a sale causes the customer
to be skeptical. He will either question the quality of the goods being
shown or the ability of the salesman to give him dependable service. The
salesman’s effort, to be more effective, should be so natural that it
does not occur to the customer that he is being led to a decision. The
interpretation that a great actor gives to a part he is playing is so
natural that his audience loses sight of the fact that there is effort,
and actually moves along in the part with the actor.

Nervous hurrying as shown by quick, excited movements causes uneasiness
to the customer. There is the danger of having this shown when there are
several customers waiting to be served. However, the effect produced by
excited hurrying is that of confusion in the customer’s mind. His
decision is reached less easily under such circumstances. The salesman
is thus unable to accomplish as much as he would under an even, steady
pace. The brisk, snappy movement of enthusiasm is not to be confused
with that of excitement. The former is a thing to cultivate. It
represents the spirit of the times. It wins the customer’s respect and
saves his time as well as that of the salesman.


H. B. Scates, shoe buyer and division manager for William Filene’s Sons
Company, Boston, mentions an incident that brings out clearly the basis
of service and the relationship that should exist in the mind of the
salesman in his selling effort. Mr. Scates, in a series of talks, had
been speaking to some of the salespeople on the advisability of studying
and understanding the customer so as to establish a better working basis
of service. After one of these talks had been completed one of the young
ladies spoke to Mr. Scates, explaining that there were a number of
things she did not understand and asked if he could explain them in
direct relation to her everyday work. This gave him the cue as to where
he had been wrong and he sat down with this girl and had the following
conversation with her:

    “Your married sister buys her children’s shoes from you, doesn’t
    she?” he asked.


    “How do you go about to sell her?”

    “Well, of course, I know about what kind of shoes she wants, how
    much she can afford to spend, and after I find out just what she
    wants the shoes for, dress or everyday wear, I show her the
    kinds we have that she ought to buy.”

    “What do you mean by the kind she ought to buy,” he then asked.

    “Well, you know we have some kinds of dress shoes that are
    perishable and really not economical, and we have some everyday
    shoes that will wear longer than others, and I always tell her
    about these things and advise her how to get the most for her

    “Now,” he said, “you have told me how to be a good salesperson,
    instead of having me tell you. And I will carry the idea a
    little further for you. In case of your sister, you tell the
    truth about the merchandise, you show a genuine interest, you
    take real pleasure in handling and fitting the youngster because
    she is your little niece, and you have given them 100 per cent
    of real service and the benefit of all you know about shoes and
    our particular stock.

    “Treat every customer with the same interest as you would your
    own intimate friends, and you can’t lose.”

There is a big thought expressed in what Mr. Scates has said. The matter
of studying the customer is not a cold, calculating process but one of
human friendliness. The effort to please that a person makes in serving
an intimate friend is not forced and unnatural, but a genuine,
whole-hearted desire to be of assistance. To that extent each customer
should be considered by the salesman as an intimate friend and should be
served accordingly.

In selling to a steady customer there is a special advantage in that the
salesman knows the man he is serving, his preferences and also something
of his price limitations. With the new customer a very good indication
is in the person’s appearance, although there are exceptions to this
rule, as will be pointed out. The man or woman who is simply and neatly
dressed will probably not be interested in the extremes of style. A fair
indication may be had also from the quality of the clothes and
especially the quality of the shoe that is being worn. It is safe in
many instances to show something of slightly better quality on the
assumption that the customer is not wearing the best he has, or perhaps,
that he is more prosperous now than he was when he made the last
purchase. At any rate, it is better to come down on the quality of shoe
offered than to have the customer request that he be shown something

A customer, man or woman, dressed in the extreme of style will almost
invariably expect to be served with footwear of the same general nature.
Such a person will require a change of style from that last purchased or
from the one he or she is wearing. Any attempt to fix a general rule on
this point would be difficult, except to suggest offering the extreme
styles with some variation of appearance as compared with the shoe being


The practice of playing favorites by giving one customer more
considerate service than another is unnatural. It is unfair and
furthermore is not good business. Any short-measure of service is bound
to be noticed and as a result the business is lost to the salesman and
probably lost also to the house. Nothing can be said to illustrate with
more force the advisability of serving all customers honestly and
without discrimination than an experience of a few months ago as told by
the retailer who was successful in securing the business that had gone
a-begging. Such cases are bound to occur continually unless there is a
fixed standard of service.

    A certain customer entered one of the city stores, having just
    arrived from a camp where he had been spending the summer.
    Dressed as he was at the time, his appearance was that of a
    laborer, and evidently, on that account, he was treated
    indifferently by the salesman. Being dissatisfied the man left
    without having made a purchase and then entered another store
    where he was treated with all the respect and consideration due
    him. Before leaving, he had purchased shoes to the value of
    seventy dollars, paid cash for them and then presented his card
    with the request that the shoes be delivered. Not until then was
    it learned that he was one of the most influential men in that
    section of the country.

The secret of success in serving people is to treat them all alike, but
to make each one feel the distinction of individual attention.


There are times when it is impossible to avoid interruptions while a
customer is being served. A polite apology is the least that can be
given, but this does not overcome the handicap that has been caused, and
also the feeling that only part service and divided attention is being

Bear in mind that to the customer the salesman represents the store, and
that if the service given is not what it should be the natural tendency
is for the customer to go elsewhere. Quality alone will not sell goods.
Someone has expressed the fact in this way: “An expert selling force
could, if necessary, sell inferior merchandise, but a sales force
without the spirit of true service would bring on failure regardless of
a high standard of merchandise.”

Interruptions are often due to the fact that the salesman’s work is not
properly organized. He may have passed along the preceding order without
the proper instructions, or he may set it aside with the intention of
completing it later, and as a result may be holding up the work of
someone else. In consequence it becomes necessary, perhaps, that he be
interrupted when serving the next customer and thus his effectiveness as
a first-class salesman is reduced. The remedy is to organize the sale
from the time the customer is approached until the charge is entered and
the goods are passed along for delivery. Get the whole transaction
completed and out of the way so that the next customer may have
undivided attention.

                              CHAPTER VII
                      DIFFERENT TYPES OF CUSTOMERS


Just as there are no two people exactly alike in physical appearance,
just as there are no two sunsets, trees or no two blades of grass
exactly alike, there are no two people of like personality and mental
development. Variety is a law of nature. One of the greatest wonders of
all creation is that such a range of variety is possible year after year
and century after century, without duplication. Glancing at a field of
daisies or a bouquet of violets the first impression might be that they
are all alike, but we find, of course, that each one is different in the
length of its stem, the size of its petals and color shadings. As the
saying goes, “Variety is the spice of life.” It is variety that prevents
life from becoming monotonous, by presenting things of everyday life in
changed forms and relationships. Among people the variety of nature and
disposition is the one thing that sets the art of salesmanship apart
from monotonous, machine-like operations and establishes it as an
occupation calling for brains and skill.

Someone may say, “How I wish all customers were like Mrs. Brown or Mrs.
Smith, who always know what they want, who buy without any fuss and are
out of the store again in less time than another customer takes to
decide on the color or style!” That sounds as though it might be an
ideal condition except for the fact that it would put selling on a plane
of service with that offered by the slot machine. The salesman would
become a mere human shoe-handling machine. The sale to Mrs. Brown is a
pleasure to the salesman simply because it is one of a variety; all of
which have been different in some respects and most of them calling for
a higher degree of personal salesmanship. There are some manufacturing
companies today that have built up such a steady demand for their goods
that the salesman supplying the retailer is often required simply to
look over the dealer’s shelves to see what is needed to make up the
complete stock, make out his order for the required goods and have it
signed by the retailer. Fine business for the wholesaler and the dealer!
But the salesman runs the risk of becoming a mere stock-keeper; and his
pay is regulated accordingly.


An understanding of human nature is of especial importance to people who
sell. Every shoe salesman has recognized the fact that there is among
customers a variety of personality or dispositions. One person is
continually in a hurry; another person, although he may have just as
much to do, is never rushed. One person is happy as a matter of habit;
another will appear to be weighted with the cares of the world—and so it
goes, each one contributing to build up variety in human nature.

The study of human nature is known also as character reading and as
psychology. The purpose of this study is to bring about a clearer
understanding of the laws governing the operation of the human mind.
There is a relationship between a person’s disposition and his physical
appearance as shown by the features of his face, the shape of his head
and such like. The science of analyzing these signs is known as
character reading or character analysis. People who make a special study
of these things are sometimes able to show remarkable results in reading
and understanding people at first sight. Everybody acquires the habit,
more or less, of “sizing-up” a person who is met for the first time. To
the salesman the ability to do this is a special advantage in that it
enables him at once to understand a customer and to govern his effort to
sell accordingly.

Without knowing anything about the details of character reading as they
relate to a study of the proportions and relationship of a person’s
nose, chin, mouth, and so forth, most of us learn to understand people
simply through the impression they make upon us as we meet them. A
person’s general manner of approach, the expression and tone of voice,
come to mean a great deal to us in an effort to understand those with
whom we come in contact. A broad suggestion on this point is that the
salesman should confine at least his first effort at reading human
nature to that of taking a genuine interest in each customer. He should
base his effort to serve upon _personal impressions_ rather than upon
any attempt at analyzing the customer according to a series of rules.
Only after having made a special study of psychology or character
reading would he be in a position to get results from these sources.
Without belittling any of these things it is safe to say that a goodly
share of success in all retail selling is based upon the policy of
considering each customer, first of all as a fellow human being, and of
backing this up with a genuine effort to serve him well.


Everyone has had the experience at some time or other of listening to
amateur musicians who attempted to produce in harmony without first
having tuned-up to the proper key. Although their efforts and interest
may have been every bit as sincere, although the motions may have been
the same and notes of music the same as those played by an artist, the
effect produced could be nothing but discord, and the more persistent
the effort to continue the more displeasing would be the result. The
position of the salesman in relation to the customer is precisely the
same. Unless he is, at the outset, able to understand something of the
nature of the customer and the manner in which each one should be
treated, there will surely result a lack of harmony that will end in
killing the sale.

The salesman is called upon for the use of tact, which means an
understanding of what is proper to be done under varying conditions as
they arise under different circumstances. The clerk who asked his
customer to go outside and look over the styles in the window, and to
return after he made a selection, stamped himself at once as being a man
without tact. He had not properly tuned-up to his customer and therefore
the remark, although it seemed perfectly proper to the clerk, could only
produce discord on the mind of the customer.

The salesman’s proper attitude of mind should be that of working along
with the customer. He should train himself, as he proceeds with the
sale, actually to feel the contact of his own foot in the new shoe as it
slips on the customer’s foot. He should experience the satisfaction of
the purchaser, who mentally notes that he has just spent, perhaps a
considerable part of a week’s pay, in a good cause and with no regrets.
He cannot serve the customer and hope steadily to get satisfactory
results unless he can transplant himself into the customer’s frame of
mind. He should be able to consider himself sitting in the chair, he
should look at the shapes and colors submitted, through the eyes of the
customer, and he should feel the shoe on his own foot as he adjusts it
to the customer’s. Pure imagination, of course, but how else can he
successfully work along in the sale with his customer—how else can he
hope to work in harmony?

Most customers have a mind of their own and can make a decision when
they feel assured that they have the shoe best suited to their
requirements. It is recognized by merchants that the customer is more
dependent upon the ability of the shoe salesman to supply the goods
needed than he is upon any other salesman from whom he makes purchases.
The shoe salesman who really lives up to his responsibility is a
_consulting expert_ to whom the customer comes for suggestion and
advice, in the same way that the doctor is an expert to whom the patient
comes for help.

The salesman’s responsibility therefore is to think _with_ and not
wholly _for_ the customer.


Already the fact has been mentioned that there is great variety in human
nature. Although each nature or disposition is slightly different in
some respect from every other disposition, as one blade of grass is
different from another, still it is reasonably possible to make some
broad classifications for the purpose of considering their points of

The first great distinction among people is that between young and old.
“Men are simply boys grown up,” we say. But the experienced salesman
knows that what will be satisfactory in the nature of service for the
young boy will not do for the “old boy.”

Most youngsters, especially boys, do not like to be sent to the grocery
store on small errands to get supplies of food for the dinner table. On
the other hand, there is generally a change of attitude when the boy
learns that the errand is to a grocer’s where he knows some good-natured
soul will take the trouble and special interest to hand out, perhaps a
cracker to make him happy on the way home. To use a homely illustration:
A butcher in New York city built up a following among all the children
in the neighborhood because he showed a fatherly interest, and at the
same time handed out pieces of bologna to the youngsters, whenever they
came in to buy. He may have handed out a pound or two in the course of a
day; but some of the young boys have since become old boys and are still
trading at the old stand.

Success in serving children, whether it be food or shoes, is in showing
a genuine interest in them and in pleasing them. The salesman need not
take time off to explain the operations of the store or department, but
he will find his time not lost in spending a moment to inquire kindly on
some minor point concerning the child and perhaps to learn its name. The
child is pleased, and except in most unusual cases the mother is too.

With children the matter of proper fit should be foremost. In addition
to the fact that the foot is continually growing, it is soft and easily
moulded. An incorrect fit under these conditions should be carefully
guarded against. The matters of wearing quality, price and style should
be of secondary importance to fitting properly. If the parent seems to
be unaware of the full importance of correct fitting the salesman can
generally win a good customer by taking the necessary time to explain.


Something has already been said concerning the salesman’s attitude
toward the talkative customer. It is safe to assume that nothing
definite in the nature of a sale will result by encouraging such people
to talk. Knowing practically nothing about shoes, the natural result is
that if they are encouraged to go on the conversation must drift from
the subject of shoes. This means that the sale is then less of a reality
than it was when the customer first sat down in the chair.

A one-sided “conversation” cannot long continue. The salesman should
take part in it only as long as it has some bearing on his special
mission—that of selling shoes. As it continues beyond that point he
should offer no further encouragement to go on, but should wait with
consideration until there is a pause, and then continue from where he
left off with the selling talk.

Oftentimes there will be suggestions made in the course of the
conversation that may later be used in an effort to encourage further
purchases. For example, some reference may be made to the purchase of an
evening gown. At the proper time this will open up an opportunity to
suggest a pair of silk slippers or a satin pump. However, it is well to
complete the first sale before offering suggestions concerning
additional purchases.


Certain people there are of very practical nature who have in mind a
definite notion of the goods they want and who do not take kindly to
open suggestions on the part of the salesman. They will be recognized by
their firm, business-like walk, decisive movements and steady,
well-controlled voice. Such a person will be reached best by direct and
frank statements of facts. If the salesman speaks with an air of
authority this customer will invariably listen and be influenced in his
decision accordingly, although he may not be willing to admit it.

The practical person will quickly express the feeling if unsatisfied
with a shoe and may resent any direct effort to influence his judgment.
Under the circumstances it will generally be found best to show another
style at once. The practical person is not by any means always right in
his decision, but the effort to correct an error of judgment, if there
should be one, must be made indirectly, in order that the customer may
come to a conclusion through his own reasoning on the basis of facts
given him.

With this type of customer it is unnecessary to mention or call
attention to points that may be observed by a careful examination. The
practical person, as a rule, will notice them. However, some important
point about the quality or kind of leather, the lining or outer sole,
will be well received. Elaborate styles will generally not be
acceptable. Quality and fit on the basis of price will be the deciding


The fact has already been mentioned that the silent salesman causes the
customer to be ill at ease. More so, perhaps, is the silent customer
difficult to handle and the cause of embarrassment to the inexperienced
salesman. The natural thing among people is for them to talk enough so
that their thoughts on a subject may be known. Perhaps the best plan in
serving customers who will not express an opinion is to take it for
granted that they agree with everything being told them and finally to
assume that they are satisfied and ready to make the purchase. To close
the sale some definite suggestion, such as, “In wearing these you will
find the cushion pad of special comfort,” followed by the motion of
preparing to write the ticket, will either close the sale or else cause
the customer to express definitely any opinions or preferences he may


F. W. Small, shoe buyer and department manager for the Gilchrist
Company, Boston, has this to say concerning the customer who is
unreasonable in his demands for attention and service: “The grouchy,
irritable customer is best served by the salesman who assumes a jovial,
apparently unperturbed, light-hearted manner. However, he should always
be attentive and courteous, for oftentimes these people are not as bad
as they seem. Difficult circumstances, such as ill health and the like,
have probably been responsible for their unfortunate manner rather than
any wish or desire of their own. If the salesman loses his control and
becomes indifferent or uncivil such customers become offended as much or
even more so than the average person. On the other hand, if the salesman
appears pleased and happy while serving them, although they may not show
it at the time, it is invariably a fact that they are encouraged and
benefited by having come in contact with an opposite disposition, which
they must surely admire. Such a salesman will be singled out by them for
all later business, because of a feeling they have that he understands
them and their needs better than anyone else.”

It is not an easy matter by any means to accept with a smile continually
unpleasant people, but it is good-paying business for the salesman. He
can best understand them perhaps by considering them as mental invalids
in need of some extra measure of consideration and service. As Mr. Small
points out, they are not as bad as they may seem, and will remember
every effort to please sometimes longer than will the cheerful customer.


It is hardly necessary to say anything concerning the salesman’s
responsibility in serving elderly people and invalids. Almost as if by
instinct a man or woman realizes that such people are entitled to an
added measure of kindness and respect. It is only necessary to remember
that whatever may be the peculiarities of disposition, these things have
almost without exception been brought about by circumstances and
conditions that the individual could not control. Nothing less than the
standard by which the salesman would serve his own mother or father
should be the measure of his effort to please and serve well.

There are times, of course, when it may seem that an elderly person
should be able to think more quickly or to make a decision with less
fuss. Perhaps two or three other sales might have been made in less time
and with less effort, but who would think of measuring service with a
yardstick under these circumstances.


Absent-minded people are often met with by the salesman, and might be
considered as an annoyance unless they are properly understood. Almost
everybody who ever tried to write a joke has taken the absent-minded
college professor as a subject at some time or other. The yarn of the
old professor who, coming in out of the rain, put his umbrella to bed
and stood in the bath tub, proved him to be absent-minded—but he was no
fool. While the rest of the world very systematically put their
umbrellas where they properly belonged and went comfortably to bed, he
was probably thinking five years ahead of the rank and file. This is not
an argument in favor of increasing the number of absent-minded people.
They are not all college professors and they may not all be deep
thinkers, but they do deserve to be treated with every possible
consideration on the part of the salesman.

In some stores, where the business is large enough to warrant it, the
management has found it to be good business to have salesmen of special
ability to serve elderly customers and invalids. This requires a fine
degree of salesmanship on the part of the man who is able to tune
himself up to such customers and to understand how they should be best
served. It is an art worth while cultivating.

                              CHAPTER VIII
               DIFFERENT TYPES OF CUSTOMERS (_Continued_)


Certain customers there are who are required at times to make purchases
in a hurry. When a man has ten minutes to use in buying a pair of shoes,
and is on his way to catch the limited train from New York to Chicago
that leaves twenty minutes later, he is in a hurry. It is safe to say,
too, that he needs the shoes pretty badly. There is nothing the salesman
can do under these conditions that will please the customer so much as
to cut through all the red tape, get right down to business and get the
customer started on his way again before the ten minutes are up.
Excitement would not do it. This would result in the salesman being
unable to think clearly and it would mean also that the customer in
excitement would probably take whatever was offered—and repent later.
Someone has said that what the salesman needs under these conditions is
to be “cool-headed and hot-footed.”

However, when a customer, especially a man, it not actually in a hurry
it is promptness and dispatch that he wants rather than “pushing.” The
distinction between these was clearly brought out in a recent article:

    All men like promptness and dispatch, but few of them want to be
    hurried. It is important to keep in mind the difference between
    hurrying the customer and waiting on him with speed.

    Quick, nervous movements or speech on the salesman’s part do not
    indicate quick service; they only confuse or annoy the customer.
    The salesman who puts the least extra motions in his work, the
    fewest words and the keenest attention, is the one who will
    serve quickly and best.

    Help the man to make his choice without seeming to be
    patronizing; try to anticipate his course of thought without
    interrupting him. When he steps up in front of you act able to
    hurry, but do not suggest hurrying. This is the safe way
    because, while men do not like to waste time, few of them,
    except on special occasions like catching a train or keeping an
    appointment, are in such a hurry that they want to be shot
    through the selling process as though they were getting into a

    Reflect confidence in your ability to save the customer’s time
    rather than the ability to speed him out of the department.


There are a few women who take keen enjoyment in a form of indoor
amusement known as “shopping.” This may be nothing more than a desire to
use what would otherwise be a dull morning by attending a variety show
of merchandise. Such a woman may pass from one department of a store to
another trying on pretty clothes in each one, and with no thought to

After some experience on the floor the salesman soon learns to
distinguish between the customer who comes for business and the “looker”
who has come to be entertained at the expense of the salesman’s time and
effort while other customers are waiting to be served. On learning that
there is no possibility of making a sale, it is for the salesman to
suggest, perhaps, that he has shown the principal range of styles and
that if there is nothing satisfactory among them the lady might call
later and find what she is looking for. The salesman should, of course,
offer the usual courtesy extended to customers and should make no
intimation of the fact that he does not care to spend further time
showing goods. Skillful salesmanship has often been accountable for
sales in those cases where there had originally been no intention to
buy. Rather than run the risk of missing a sale it is much better for
the salesman to continue his effort for a while even after he has become
convinced that a purchase is not even being considered. The idle
“looker” today may later be ready and able to buy. Therefore whatever
goods are shown should be shown to advantage in order that they may make
the most favorable impression.


Everyone with selling experience has met the customer who is unable to
make a decision—the person who is thoroughly satisfied with the goods
but cannot come to the point of saying “yes.” In a recent booklet
written for salespeople[3] the following important points are brought
out and clearly state the position of the salesman in relation to the
undecided customer.

Footnote 3:

  _Chats on Garment Salesmanship_, by Margaret Sumner.

    Now for the woman who needs to be helped in making up her mind.
    She is a very trying type and needs careful coaching, bolstering
    up and nursing along to the point of decision. Her other
    characteristics will be more or less your guide in showing you
    how to bring her to the point of decision, but your own manner
    must be very firm. Do not let the least hint of a doubt that she
    will finally buy creep into your manner or voice. At the same
    time don’t try to overwhelm her with your own forcefulness, for
    then she will be frightened. Caution and timidity are the
    natural weapons of the weak nature, and in all dealings with
    such persons you must use all the kindness and patience at your
    command. You have to make decisions for them but let them think
    that they are making up their minds. Be very gentle but firm.

    The weak person must be led like a little child. She simply
    hesitates to make up her mind without any reason at all. Do not
    try to reason with her; just be cheerful, smiling and confident,
    until you inspire a little confidence in her. Some remark about
    the reliability of your goods and the reputation of their makers
    and of the store behind them will help.

    Other woman find it hard to make decisions when the mind is a
    little weakened through worry or too great an expenditure of
    nervous energy. This is the nervous, unhealthy, irritable type,
    and your method must be as cheerful and sympathetic as with the
    timid woman, but less insistent. Try to convey the impression,
    without saying it in so many words, that it will be a relief to
    get the matter off her mind by making a decision _now_. These
    poor women run around from store to store, get half a dozen
    different styles and desirable qualities fixed in their minds
    and then lie awake at night trying to decide between them. If
    this method of shopping is hard upon the salesperson, it is many
    times as hard upon the shopper. When such a one leaves with the
    promise to “decide later” be just as polite and cheerful as
    ever, yet without any abruptness. Leave as good an impression as
    possible, remarking that you hope she will come in later and in
    many cases she will. Often the personality of the salesperson is
    the deciding factor in a case of this kind without the customer
    realizing it.

Still another type of customer who is undecided and has difficulty in
coming to a decision is the person who, for example, has a short, thick
foot and always admires the long, slim-looking styles and wishes to be
fitted accordingly. Then there is naturally the opposite—the person with
the long, slim foot who laments of its size, who thinks of the length,
which to her seems enormous. One practical salesman with years of
experience mentions that such a customer, if well served, can actually
be made to feel pleased with the shape of her foot. He says: “When
reasoned with properly the customer can be made to feel much comforted
if not really proud of the shape of her feet. The salesman can mention,
for instance, that the cubic contents of this 8AA foot is less than a
size 5½E—and besides a tall woman would not be well proportioned if she
had short feet, short arms and short fingers. To be properly
proportioned is an advantage—and before the customer realizes it the
size 8AA looks pretty well, after all, she thinks they will do all
right, the price is satisfactory and the sale is made.”

There is nothing dishonest about this means of serving the customer. It
is a genuine, whole-hearted effort to please her and to supply her with
the shoe she should rightly wear and that will give her the maximum of
service. Hugh Black, a prominent Scotch writer and a close student of
human nature, made the statement, after having toured the United States,
that one of the chief characteristics of the American people, as he
noticed them, was that “no matter what they are doing they want to be
doing something else; and no matter where they are they would go
somewhere else.” It is perfectly human for everyone to seek variety. The
woman with the long, thin foot has become tired of looking at it and
consequently it seems commonplace. The salesman in mentioning that the
slim foot has its advantages is simply reassuring his customer of a
fact, and in doing so he is serving her well.

One of the fatal mistakes in shoe selling is to attempt to please a
customer with a size or proportion that is not the proper one for her to
wear. This can result in nothing but a loss of business through
dissatisfaction when the shoe fails to give the service expected of it.
To understand the customer, to use tact—but not deceit—in selling the
shoe she should wear, is the responsibility of the salesman.


It is not unusual for a customer who may be undecided to bring along a
friend to assist in the selection. The salesman, under these conditions,
may have the task of selling two people the one pair of shoes, because
the sale depends upon the satisfaction of both. The effort to sell will,
of course, be directed to the person who is buying. However, should
there be a difference of opinion between the two concerning some
important point such as size or fit, the salesman would naturally be
supported by the person who favors the shoe he is suggesting as the most
desirable one. Although it would be a mistake for him to make a
controversy of it by setting up sides, he can assist in bringing about a
decision by a suggestion or two in favor of the person who has agreed
with the salesman’s selection.

A woman customer accompanied by her husband, or vice versa, offers
another situation that calls for tact on the part of the salesman. One
good woman explained that her husband had bought _himself_ a new suit
but that she had accompanied him simply to pick out the one he should
have. The shoe salesman under the same conditions, will soon be able to
tell which one of the two is to do the deciding, and he will then direct
his selling effort accordingly.


As a test in salesmanship and the ability to serve different types of
customers, the question was asked before a training class for retail
salespeople as to the manner in which a customer answering the following
description should be greeted and served:

    A woman about thirty enters the store carrying a baby in her
    arms and leading another child by the hand. Her clothes are
    shabby. She is evidently tired and makes her way to the nearest
    chair. She looks discouraged.

The salesman on considering these facts realizes at once that such a
customer cannot be served in the same manner as the care-free
schoolgirl. If he places himself in the position of the tired woman he
will realize that her problems are different and that she requires in a
shoe not only service but quality, fit, style and price to meet her own

The salesman would make no effort to hurry such a customer. He would
realize that she would get genuine comfort by resting for a minute or
two before getting down to business and that she might not even care to
think of shoes while resting. Being discouraged, as shown by her
expression, she would probably be cheered by a remark and some show of
interest in the children. To show an interest would not mean to pry into
her personal affairs or to ask a lot of questions, but a kindly word
would serve to direct the woman’s thought from her troubles and to put
her in a buying frame of mind.

Such a customer would expect shoes that would give her the maximum of
wearing quality for the money she has to spend. Her appearance indicates
that she is poor. She wants the greatest possible wearing service and
comfort that she can get. She deserves the best fit that it is possible
to give her, and she will generally be glad of the salesman’s
suggestions concerning the shoe she should wear. The matter of pattern
and style is not a prime consideration. Talk quality and supply a
strong, serviceable shoe. Show an interest in the children and they will
at once be lined up for the next pair of shoes the mother is able to buy
them. It may have taken ten minutes longer to serve the woman well, but
she has been satisfied and has been made a steady customer.


A certain amount of almost every store’s trade is made up of the
customer who is interested above all other things in style. Something
has already been said concerning the personal appearance of such a
customer. The whole outfit from hat to shoes will speak in terms of

With the customer who puts style before all other considerations there
is great likelihood of there being objection in the matter of correct
shoe fitting, especially if the person’s foot is unusual in size or
shape. Here the salesman is called in to use all he knows of the art of
tactful selling. Business of the kind where price is no object is
certainly well worth cultivating, but here, as in all other successful
shoe selling, the matter of correct fitting is essential to
satisfaction. Avoid talking in terms of sizes. This always lays bare a
tender part of the customer’s conceit or consciousness and opens up the
possibility of dispute and misunderstanding. It is _correct fitting_
that the customer is buying and not size marks. The salesman will
concentrate his efforts to give the maximum of _style with correct
fitting_, but with customers whose first and only thought is style, he
will speak only in terms of _style_.


Among customers there are a certain number who continually have trouble
with their feet but who are never able to come to the point of realizing
that the shoes they insist are the proper size are the real cause of
their great discomfort. The salesman should serve his customer by
furnishing him with a shoe that actually fits the _foot_ and not one
that fits some mistaken idea of size.

J. M. Watson, president of the Guarantee Shoe Company, San Antonio,
Texas, emphasizes very strongly the need to serve the customer with
_fit_ rather than sizes. In explaining the policy of his company he

    If the customer asks what size the shoes are, change the subject
    if possible. However, if you are pinned down to where it is
    necessary to talk size, do so. But do not say simply “6A”—say
    “6A, which is the size that fits you.” Then if the customer
    should say, “They are too long, I don’t wear a 6A, I wear a 5C,”
    the salesman would reply: “When I sell you a shoe you wear a 6A
    because I do not misfit my customers. The shoe you have on is
    exactly the model and size that your feet require—to give you
    any other would mean that I would be selling you the wrong shoe
    for your feet.”

This is a clear statement of fact, but it is bound to impress the
customer favorably because it is said with an air of authority and
because it brings out the importance of correct fitting. The subject of
shoe fitting will be fully treated in the next following section of the
Course. It is mentioned here simply in its important relation to the
treatment of different types of customers. If the customer actually has
foot trouble he needs expert advice such as the salesman will be in a
position to give after having mastered the section of the Course on
“Correct Shoe Fitting.” On the other hand, if he does not have foot
trouble, he needs good salesmanship to protect himself from insisting
upon a poorly fitted shoe that would later bring on trouble.

                               CHAPTER IX
                           SHOWING THE GOODS


The purpose of the selling talk is to assist the customer along in the
sale from the start up to the point of his decision to buy. To exercise
a helpful influence requires of the salesman life, spirit and freshness.
Everyone, in order to make a living for himself, is required to have and
to use a certain amount of selling ability, and in proportion to his
skill in using it will depend the value of his services. The best
newsboy is the one who puts the most life and spirit into his efforts,
the one who lets you know, even though you may be across the street, or
around the corner, that he is on the job and that he has papers to sell.
In short, the most successful newsboy is the one who is the best

The president of any business organization, no matter how large his
salary nor how great his importance, must be a salesman. He does not
have a free hand to do as he pleases, but must get his authority on
important matters from the directors, who represent the interests of the
stockholders. Unless the president is salesman enough to convince the
directors that his plans are sound and that they will prove profitable
to the business he cannot expect to receive authority to proceed with
them, and therefore he cannot succeed in his work. In other words, his
problem is exactly the same as that of the shoe salesman except that he
must sell an idea or his opinion, whereas the retail salesman sells

If in presenting a plan to his directors the president of the company
should attempt to do so in some half-hearted, dull and uninterested
manner he could expect to receive in return no greater interest or
enthusiasm than he himself showed. On the other hand, if his selling
talk is stimulating, if his manner indicates confidence, if he is
actually “on fire” in the interest of his proposed plan he can be
assured of having it received and considered favorably. The salesman is
dealing with a _live_ subject. He is called upon to present facts
concerning his goods in such a way that the customer will recognize them
as being _facts_ rather than mere opinions. This means that the selling
talk must be made to live—it must be freshened-up. The salesman must
continually guard against becoming mechanical or stereotyped either in
his manner or his sales talk. He must realize that it is just as
important for him to “launder” his selling talk as it is to launder his


One shoe salesman who has recently moved up to the position of branch
manager, says, in speaking of the need to keep customer service up to
par, and of his method of doing it, that his first duty each morning is
to look over the appearance of his store, his windows and his stock from
the viewpoint of an outsider—to consider his services as a salesman as
they would appeal to the customer who had never before made a purchase
of him. He realizes that there is the tendency for him to grow “stale”
in his efforts and to fall into the habit of considering the next sale
as another mechanical operation. He says that the danger is to regard
today’s work simply as a continuation from where he left off yesterday
and to overlook the fact that as far as today’s customers are concerned
there might just as well have been no yesterday.

The outsider’s point of view is that each sale is an entirely new
experience. The salesman who is able to get himself into this frame of
mind and to treat the customer on this basis can never become
mechanical. He will never run the danger of losing business through
growing stale in his selling talk and his effort to please. This is the
difference between working for a future and working for the pay
envelope. Every man of responsibility looks further ahead than the
Saturday envelope. He is working for a future that means his development
beyond his present job. His success in reaching it will depend upon his
ability to _grow_ out of one and into a bigger one. Promotion or success
is not an over-night process; it is a natural and gradual growth
cultivated by steady effort. Alexander Hamilton, the first treasurer of
the United States and the greatest financial mind the country has ever
known, was proclaimed a genius both here and abroad, because of what
seemed to be a superhuman understanding and foresight. His simple reply
was that although men gave him credit for genius, the only genius he had
was in being able to work night and day on the subject in hand until he
had sweated out a solution.

This may seem to be drifting a long way from shoe salesmanship but it is
just as close as the pay envelope. The laws of success are unfailing
whether they apply to merchandising or to statesmanship. No one ever got
anywhere on a permanent basis except by hard work. To know what the
customer wants and should have, to make a whole-hearted effort to serve
him and to _keep at it_, is the formula for success in shoe-selling.


For the reason that intelligent retail salesmanship is principally a
matter of brain work rather than physical effort, it is not possible to
set down any fixed list of rules or conditions which, when observed,
will result in one hundred per cent results. Local conditions vary and
of course human nature among customers varies; so that it is necessary
for the salesman to keep these things continually in mind and to plan
his work accordingly. On the other hand there are certain definite
suggestions that can be used to good advantage to serve as the
salesman’s working basis by bringing to mind some of the important
points to be considered and by mentioning one way in which they may be

Mr. Watson of the Guarantee Shoe Company makes the following practical
suggestions on getting the sale under way, based on over twenty years
experience in the retail shoe business:

    If there is no salesman’s stool in front of where you have
    seated the customer, go immediately and get one. Place it
    directly in front of the customer and at once sit down. Then
    make some such positive suggestion as “Let me examine the right
    foot first, please.” While saying this hold out the hands toward
    the foot so that they may meet it and allow you to get the shoe
    off before the customer realizes that he or she wants to see the
    shoe before trying it on.

    Say as little as possible while removing the shoe, and get it
    off as quickly and easily as possible—then produce the measuring
    stick. Either have the customer stand on the stick or place the
    foot flat upon the foot rest of the fitting stool. An important
    point to remember is that the foot should never be measured
    while in the air. The toes should be well stretched out by
    pressing them with the fingers—and be sure to remember what the
    foot measures.

    Do not spend a lot of time telling the customer all about the
    bones in the foot. The salesman should, however, examine the
    foot for enlarged joints, hammer toes, arch trouble, corns and
    so forth, and mention to the customer the foot trouble he
    discovers. He should take special notice of the size of the
    hosiery worn, by pulling out the end at the toes, and if he
    finds the hose to be too short he might mention the fact and
    suggest that a half size larger be bought next time. He might
    also explain the fact that short hose, like short shoes, are the
    cause of many foot troubles. He should spend some time studying
    the foot as to the width required; length of toes and such other
    matters. All this should be done before the customer is shown a
    shoe. It is important to spend considerable time in this
    preliminary work. Plenty of time spent in this way will mean
    that less time will be required later in the transaction, for
    the reason that the customer will be impressed with the fact
    that he is being served by a real shoe expert.

    Bring to the customer only one style of shoe, and that should be
    the style the salesman has assured himself as being the one
    desired by the customer. Do not hand the shoe to the customer to
    examine and do not hold it up before his eyes to inspect. Take
    it directly to him and put it on the foot at once.

    It is well always to bring two sizes of shoes, both of the same
    style. In other words, if you have decided the customer needs a
    size 6, but are not quite sure whether the foot is an A or AA,
    bring both the 6A and 6AA. Slip the larger shoe on first, and if
    it is too loose do not lace it up and do not wait for the
    customer to call attention to the fact that it is too large.
    Take it off immediately and slip on the smaller one. If this is
    the right size, lace it up. If you have misjudged the foot and
    brought both sizes too large or too small do not spend time in
    lacing up the shoe. This would cause the customer to lose the
    confidence he had gained in the beginning through the
    preliminary work. The salesman should go quickly for the correct
    size and at the same time take away the shoes that did not fit.

    The next shoe should surely be the correct size, or else the
    salesman’s ability will drop in the customer’s estimation. If it
    is the right size place it on the foot and lace it up. Iron out
    the shoe well by pressing the toe down with one hand and
    smoothing out all the wrinkles with the other hand. Both the
    fingers and the palm of the hand should be used for ironing the
    shoe, while the other hand is used to press down the toe.

These suggestions by Mr. Watson are definite and contain some valuable
hints. They bring the sale up to the point of getting the shoe properly
fitted on the customer’s foot. The salesman should then continue the
sale by asking the customer to stand in the shoe and then, perhaps,
follow it with the suggestion that he “walk a few paces and notice how
well it feels on the foot.” By the time the customer has returned to the
chair and if he has not already made the decision to buy, the salesman
might continue by suggesting that the other shoe be tried on. After
having both shoes completely laced he is ready to ask the customer to
walk in them and to lead him to a mirror where a full view of the shoes
may be had. The customer is now face to face with the necessity to make
a decision. He has been led through the sale with positive suggestions
and has only to say “yes” to complete the transaction.

Another point worth remembering is that of placing the old shoe, when
removed from the customer’s foot, out of the way and out of sight under
the fitting stool. To throw it down carelessly for others sitting around
to gaze upon is displeasing to the customer. He feels happier when it is
out of sight.


Another delicate point calling for real salesmanship is that of selling
a customer who calls for a shoe that is not in stock. The style,
perhaps, may have been one shown in the window. It may have been one of
the numbers especially popular in the store. The sizes may be broken and
further stock difficult or slow to secure. Although the salesman would
likely know all these things at the time the customer mentioned the
style wanted, he certainly could not afford to hold up his hands in
horror and greet the customer with the sad news, “I don’t think we have
your size.” The result of such a remark could only have the effect of
causing him to feel that he had suffered a real loss and that no other
shoe would serve him quite as well.

If, on the other hand, the salesman proceeds to the proper section he
may find he has the correct size in stock. This he can produce, and the
sale goes along without difficulty. However, if the salesman finds he is
not going to be able to fit the customer in his first choice it is for
him to begin at once by offering a suitable second choice. This he
should not attempt to do by running down or finding fault with the shoe
asked for by the customer. Convince the customer that you are sincerely
working for his interest—tell him so. The style and fit of the shoe
called for will serve as an indication of the kind of shoe wanted.
Proceed at once to get the stock nearest to it and start selling it on
its merits. Nothing will be gained by considering any further the merits
of the shoe that is out of stock. Remember that one of the important
features of salesmanship is that of _creating a desire_ for the
merchandise you have. Fit properly the shoe you have in stock, dwell
upon its good qualities, its workmanship and its value. The sale will be
made when the customer understands that the goods you _have_ rather than
the goods you _had_ are those that will serve him best.


One manufacturer warns his customers against substitutes by advertising
the fact that “You can teach the parrot to say ‘Just as Good’ but he
won’t know what he is talking about.” The buying public has been taught
to disrespect the man who preaches “just as good” and to have suspicion
of the goods he is selling. Reliable dealers and manufacturers sell
goods on their own merits and not by a false standard of comparing them
with something else. The fact has already been pointed out that the
salesman cannot afford to spend his valuable time boosting the business
of his competitor by discussing with his customer the relative
advantages and disadvantages of both lines. He sells his own goods on
the basis of their merits and allows the man around the corner to do the

To mention the matter of “just as good” means that the salesman has
invited comparison. Then he has the double task of proving his statement
first, and later of selling his own goods. Even then the customer will
probably not be quite satisfied until he has tried the other article,
just to find out for his own satisfaction how they compare. One
far-sighted business man said that “when a competing salesman talks
about my line I consider him as valuable as a salesman on my own

If a style is out of stock, the wise salesman will plunge right in to
sell the goods he has on their own merits. To invite comparison with
“just as good” arguments wastes time and stamps the man as an imitator.
Be original.


It is now getting to be understood more generally among dealers and
salesmen that it is unnecessary that the customer be shown a half dozen
pairs of shoes in order that he may be able to make a selection. The
whole point of importance is to spend enough time at the beginning of
the sale to find out exactly what shoe the customer should have and then
to go after that particular shoe. If a physician were to make a hasty
examination of a patient’s throat and then dash off hurriedly, only to
return a moment later for another inspection and to change his original
decision, the patient would at once lose confidence. Or if the dentist
were to commence extracting a tooth and later change his mind and decide
it should be filled, he would probably be invited to give up his diploma
and to accept a plumber’s license. He is expected to know what his
patient needs before he starts treating him.

The shoe salesman is expected to be a specialist, an expert, in his
line. He is expected to spend enough time with the customer to find out
what shoe he should have. It is for the customer to give an indication
of the style wanted. With these in mind the salesman is prepared to make
his selection of the stock. Generally the customer is interested in not
more than one pair of shoes out of the whole stock—and that is the pair
he is to buy and wear. If the salesman, by the manner in which he
conducts himself and his actual knowledge of his job, wins the
customer’s confidence, if he conducts himself as an expert, the customer
will accept him as such and be glad to take advantage of his advice. The
first or second shoe selected for the customer can be made more
satisfying to him than one that he himself may have been required to
select out of a dozen offered to him. The whole matter narrows down to
one of whether the salesman is simply to hand out shoes at the direction
of the customer or whether he is to be a helpful adviser. One means
wasted time and small results; the other results in prompt, satisfactory
business and a following of customers who are “boosting” for the
salesman and the store.

Groping around in the stock to find a size or style must give the
customer the impression that the salesman does not have the size in the
particular shoe he first intended to show, or else that he is trying to
find something else that may not be as desirable. It makes the customer
feel uneasy when there is no occasion for it. The man in touch with the
stock day after day is expected to know where to lay his hands on the
goods he needs. The salesman cannot afford to give his customer an
opening for suspicion or doubt as to his ability.


Unless the salesman watches himself carefully he may run into the habit
of showing and of using his selling effort on those styles only that
appeal to his special preference. There is the danger for him to regard
as a second choice the styles that do not appeal to him especially. The
young man, fresh out of school or college, would like to clothe every
customer in sport models, whereas the middle-aged conservative salesman
would have the natural tendency to favor the plain conservative styles.
However, neither of these two men would have best results if they
allowed their personal preferences to have full sway in the selection of

Each customer has his own likes and dislikes on the subject of footwear
styles, just as he has his preferences among moving picture stars or
candidates for public office. One man is of the opinion that his choice
of candidate has all the desirable qualities, whereas the opponent has
none of them. But he will sometimes learn after election day that the
majority of voters saw things in a different light; that although each
voter examined the same two or three candidates he saw qualities in them
that the man standing alongside could not see. The salesman will see one
shoe that represents to him a perfect style, but the customer may have
an entirely different opinion. It is the customer’s preference that must
be considered.

The whole range of footwear styles is created in order that the customer
may find in the selection something to meet his particular preference.
The conservative, middle-aged salesman, although he may not care for the
sport models, recognizes that it is the customer who is to be pleased,
and therefore he will put in the background any individual preferences.
He will not concentrate his efforts on any certain few styles but will
make selection to meet the tastes of his customers.

Many stores have certain short-profit lines or _leaders_ for the purpose
of attracting trade to the store. There are two ways in which the sale
of these goods may be considered by the salesman. The first is that the
leader gives the opening for an easy sale, that it requires no great
effort on the part of the salesman, and that the thing to do is to
follow the path of least resistance and hand out the goods called for
without further ceremony. The way in which the sale of these goods
should be considered is that they serve to bring the customer into the
store and give the salesman an opportunity to meet him and to show the
_line_. This does not mean that the leader is something to be held up
before the customer so that he may grab at it and miss. It does mean,
however, that the shoe called for by the customer may not be as
desirable for him as some other in the stock. The salesman is given a
real opportunity to get goods before his customer’s eyes, and he should
take advantage of it. Although the customer may have asked for and may
have been shown an eight-dollar shoe it is very often the fact that a
ten or twelve-dollar shoe with more style and better wearing quality, if
properly shown, will please him more.

Although a shoe may be a short-profit line the salesman’s obligation to
give the customer full satisfaction is just as great as it is in selling
the best shoe in the house. The leader, as suggested, is designed to
attract the new customer so that he may become acquainted with the
salesman and the store. If he is given poor fit or poor store service it
means that his further business is lost and that the advantage of the
leader has been wasted.


In a great majority of cases it is possible to close the sale after
having shown the first or second pair of shoes, provided the sale is
properly taken in hand by the salesman. The difficult case, however, is
when the customer, after having looked over several styles, will make
some such remark as “I’ll call again—I didn’t intend to buy today,
anyway.” The easiest thing for the salesman to do under these
circumstances is to reply, “Very well,” and to consider the matter
closed. But that is not salesmanship.

Many times when the customer makes such a suggestion it means that he is
dissatisfied with the service he has received—either he has lost
confidence in the salesman or he has been misjudged concerning the style
of shoe he should have been shown. When once he has left the store
without having been satisfied it means that it will be doubly hard to
get him to return. He has the feeling that the salesman, and hence the
store, has not been able to serve him, and in all likelihood he will go
elsewhere to look for the goods he needs.

The time for the salesman to “nail” the sale is when he has his customer
face to face before him. Although when he made the statement that he
would return, the customer may have had every intention of doing so, he
is inclined to go elsewhere, almost unconsciously, because he has in
mind his need for the shoes and the fact that he has not yet bought
them. Therefore he is attracted to the next store he passes—and the sale
is lost. Very often the second store is no better equipped and stocked
to give him service than the first. The difference is that he is _shown
more goods_. The salesman’s cue when the customer says “I’ll be back” is
to get into action at once, and to let him realize that there are more
styles to be shown and that it is a pleasure to show them.

Even though the customer should say, “Never mind about showing me any
more shoes today,” the salesman should not consider that his efforts
have failed. What he needs to do is to build up again the confidence of
his customer. A positive suggestion, such as “It’s no trouble at all—I
believe I know now just the style you have in mind,” will reassure the
customer and cause him to wait while the salesman goes to get another
style. Quick action and an air of assurance will do more than anything
else to win the customer under such circumstances.

Someone has written a short rhyme that tells a long story about showing
the goods. These verses may not represent Shakespearian excellence from
the standpoint of English literature, but they do represent the height
of good sense from the standpoint of successful merchandising.

                             SHOW THE GOODS

                When a visitor comes in;
                  Show the goods!
                Don’t just stand around and chin;
                  Show the goods!
                There’s no first-class reason why
                You can’t sell if you will try
                Folks who didn’t come to buy.
                  Show the goods!

                When you’re asked, “Do you keep this?”
                  Show the goods!
                Never say, “What price, please, Miss?”
                  Show the goods!
                You won’t, if you’re really wise,
                Begin by asking style or size
                You’ll get the goods before their eyes.
                  Show the goods!

                Interest the person first.
                  Show the goods!
                Question methods are the worst.
                  Show the goods!
                It’s a sad mistake to say,
                “How much do you want to pay?”
                Don’t go at the folks that way.
                  Show the goods!


No store, no matter how perfect its organization, has ever been able to
make a perfect score in selling. In the course of a month or a year
there are many people who come into the store with the intention of
buying but who are unable to get what they want, regardless of the
quality of salesmanship. People who have a very definite idea of what
they want in a shoe may not find what is desired in style, fit, wear, or
price—or possibly a combination of these. In these comparatively few
cases it is not a matter of insufficient or poor service on the
salesman’s part, but one of limitation of stock variety to meet the
customer’s ideas.

In cases of this kind the person will “shop” around from store to store
in an effort to get the goods desired. Perhaps he will find the goods
somewhere else; if so that sale goes to the store with the goods.
Oftentimes, however, the person will not be able to find just the
article he had in mind to buy. It is to be expected, therefore, that the
business will come back to the store that showed the best service. The
experienced salesman, when not able to close a sale, bears in mind that
this person will return if well served, and consequently he continues
his best efforts even though he knows he will not be able to make the
sale. He is in business not alone for today but for tomorrow and next
year, and he treats all persons he serves so that they will become

The person who does not buy has committed no crime. The salesman cannot
afford to say or do anything to cause him to feel embarrassed—to make
him feel that he has imposed upon the valuable time of the salesman or
taxed his patience. Let the man feel that his visit has been appreciated
and he will surely come back when he is again ready to buy.

                               CHAPTER X
                         KNOWLEDGE OF THE STOCK


The following is the experience of a Boston business man as told by him
to show the importance of a knowledge of the stock, on the part of the

    After having looked around in several of the shop windows I
    finally saw a shoe that seemed to be just what I wanted.
    Entering the store I was met by a young man to whom I pointed
    out the shoe in which I was especially interested. Within a
    short time he brought a shoe of the same style in my size and
    placed it on my foot.

    For some reason or other, however, the shoe did not seem to look
    as well on my foot as it did in the window, and I asked to see
    some other shape. The young man produced another and after
    lacing it up explained that the price was twelve dollars, which
    was two dollars more than the one first shown.

    On a point of information I then inquired, “Why should this pair
    be worth twelve dollars as compared with the other at ten?” And
    the answer I received was:

    “Oh, these are better shoes than those.”

Although the customer knew practically nothing about shoes and values
and may not have been able to distinguish a calfskin from an alligator
hide, and although he knew nothing of footwear styles and make, it was
an insult to his intelligence to tell him that he was paying two dollars
more because the twelve-dollar shoe was better than the ten-dollar one.
He might just as well have been told that he was paying two dollars more
because twelve was that much greater than ten. The salesman owes it to
himself and to his success in selling to acquire a knowledge of his
stock. On any other basis he can do nothing more than hand out shoes at
the customer’s direction and hope that no questions will be asked. But
it is not on this basis that success is measured out either in selling
or any other work calling for the use of brains.


An investigation has recently been made among retail stores to determine
the causes accountable for the loss of customers. As a result of this
the fact has been brought out that among the chief reasons for the
customer’s dissatisfaction, and as a result of which he transfers his
business to some other store, is the salesman’s ignorance of the goods
being sold. Business to the extent of millions of dollars is lost every
year among retail shoe stores, due to this one cause. Satisfaction in
the way a customer is served depends upon his confidence in the salesman
who serves him. This cannot result unless the salesman shows an
understanding of his goods.

To know the stock does not mean simply to know the prices. It means
among other things that the salesman must know what he has in stock to
sell and where to lay his hands on the goods when he needs them. The man
who is a success at selling realizes that the better knowledge he has of
his stock, the greater will be the satisfaction of his trade. He knows
every line in the house thoroughly—even the odd pairs he knows by size
and width so that when he gets the foot that may be fitted with one of
these he can convert the dead or odd pair into cash.

To study the stock means actually to take the time to examine the
different qualities and styles, to know the materials of which they are
made and to understand _why_ the one shoe sells for twelve dollars as
compared with the other at ten. In most stores there are times in the
morning while business is quiet when the salesman has the opportunity to
get into the stock, to examine it carefully and to learn the “feel” of
the goods. This is something that will come to him only by getting the
goods in his hands. A few minutes each day spent in a close study of the
stock will pay dividends in the way of increased business and satisfied

Later in the Course will be taken up the comparative importance of
different kinds of leather, the advantages of one over the other, a
study of cloth fabrics that go into shoes and the “why and wherefore” of
each of them, a discussion of rubber, fibre and a dozen other materials
that have important parts to play in their own special ways. To have a
knowledge of the goods means to have an understanding of how shoes
should be fitted, of how they are made, an understanding of styles and
how they are originated and introduced. The shoe salesman who is in
business for a future must know these things and he will get results in
proportion as he learns these facts. They will all be fully treated in
following sections of the Course but are mentioned here to show how
closely they tie-up to the salesman’s everyday work in serving his

The best salesmen are those who know most about their product and their
business and no one can be permanently successful without such a


One of the powerful forces to stimulate the customer’s desire to buy is
the wish to have something out of the ordinary in appearance. This is
another variation of the demand for variety that has been mentioned
before. To give the customer what is wanted in footwear variety calls
for the steady changing of styles season after season.

A thorough understanding of conditions of fashion demand that good taste
must be represented in footwear styles. Occasionally there will be a
demand for freak styles that do not meet the generally accepted idea of
good taste and common sense, but these constitute the exception. The
shoe business of the country is conducted on sound principles. It
requires foresight to anticipate the wishes of the public and to have
styles ready to supply when the demand is made. A high degree of good
judgment and common sense is needed. For instance, a manufacturer, in
making up his lines of women’s shoes for a coming season, must take into
account the colors of dress goods that will be popular at that time, in
order that he may be in a position to harmonize the leather or cloth in
the shoe with the costume. He must take into consideration the length of
the skirts to be worn and plan his styles accordingly. The weaves and
qualities of shoe fabrics must be considered, and so on all along the
line. All this must be planned in advance in order that the salesman may
have on his shelves the goods that are wanted and _when_ they are

Styles are a necessary feature to the success of a shoe business, but
unless they are properly understood by the shoe salesman they may act
with a “back kick,” like a rifle in the hands of an amateur. The true
facts are clearly brought out in an article that appeared recently in a
booklet for the salespeople of a progressive mercantile company:

    Merchandise that has its value based on style loses its value as
    the season advances and something else is produced to take its
    place. Seasonal merchandise must be sold during the period in
    which it was intended to serve its purpose.

    Sales on style merchandise are not only justified but essential.
    The price of this character of goods is based on the newness of
    style, and merchandise loses its value when this feature is

    Sales are a necessity to keep a stock clear of all odds and
    ends. To allow goods to remain in stock beyond the period during
    which they should have been sold is only creating losses in the
    end. No one serves the firm better than the salesman who always
    makes special efforts to have stocks clean.

From this it is clear that for the salesman to give the best service,
both to the customer and the house he represents, it is essential that
he have a thorough working knowledge of his stock. The fact is often
overlooked that it is from _the last pairs_ of shoes in a line that the
proprietor gets his profit. If these are not sold they become dead stock
and their value decreases the longer they continue to lie on the


The size of a store and its inside arrangement will have a great deal to
do with the way in which the layout of the stock is to be planned.
However, there are some important points to be remembered which apply
regardless of the amount of room available for storing the stock or the
kind of fixtures used.

A plan well worth following is that of keeping to the front the stock
first purchased so that it may get first attention on the part of the
salespeople. The tendency is to give the most prominent position to
goods just received and to overlook the goods that have been in stock
for some time. We naturally forget the things that are out of sight. To
do this with the stock means to pile up a number of short lines that
will later have to be sold at a sacrifice. Thus a loss results that
might have easily been avoided through a little care in the arrangement
of stock.

The following are some valuable suggestions on the care of stock made by
Mr. Conner of the George E. Keith Stores Company:

    We shall assume that the salesman is required to do a certain
    amount of stock work—that a certain number of sections are given
    to him to be cared for. Rightly, he should take as much pride in
    this stock as he would in new furnishings in his home. The
    contents of the cartons should be kept clean and presentable at
    all times. A liberal amount of tissue paper should be kept
    between the shoes, and it should be well straightened out. The
    cartons should be kept clean so that the salesman might justly
    feel proud of the appearance of the goods if a customer should
    enter the store hurriedly and notice a certain number in the
    stock. The appearance of a particular pair of shoes pulled out
    should be such that the customer would receive the impression
    that it had just arrived from the factory. There should be the
    look of freshness and newness that would at once appeal to the
    customer and influence his decision in favor of buying.

    The control of a stock section given over to a salesman does not
    mean simply that the stock is to be kept clean and salable.
    Depending on the volume of business and the size of stock
    carried in the particular store, there are a minimum number of
    pairs of shoes that constitute a profitable line. Assuming that
    the business cannot operate profitably any one line of shoes
    when there are less than twelve pairs, as soon as any one of the
    lines in the salesman’s charge is brought down to that number he
    should at once take sizes and report the facts to his manager.
    He should take sizes on his stock at least twice a week and
    should know that no sizes are in the stock room that should be
    on the shelves.

Another point of importance in connection with neatness and order in the
stock is that of returning to their proper places goods that have been
taken out to be shown to the customer. The slip-shod way is to put the
shoes in wherever there happens to be an empty space. The result of
doing this is that either the pair will be lost trace of, or it will
cause unnecessary work on the part of someone else in weeding out stock
incorrectly placed and in putting it where it properly belongs. It is as
easy to return stock to the special place provided for it as it is to
pick out the wrong place. The goods when rightly placed can always be
found when wanted without loss of time and effort on the salesman’s part
spent in searching around among half a dozen places where he or someone
else might have put them.


W. W. Willson, manager of retail stores for Rice & Hutchins, considers
the matter of a thorough acquaintance with the stock of particular value
to avoid wasting the customer’s time. He says:

    The average customer today demands dispatch when making a
    purchase. Dispatch does not mean to carelessly rush through a
    sale, but to do away with unnecessary loss of time. People as a
    rule have numerous things to attend to either in a business or
    social way, and they will not waste valuable time waiting while
    some uninformed salesperson tries to serve them and makes a
    blunder of it. The customer invariably remembers an experience
    with this kind of salesperson and makes a special point to avoid
    him when the next purchase is made. He will find the salesman
    who knows the stock.

    It is often said that “time is money.” To convince yourself of
    this divide your earnings each week by the number of hours that
    you work and you will readily understand how much your own time
    expresses in money on the expense account of the store or
    department. Remember that this applies also to your customers.
    You should know your stock so well as to require only the
    minimum of time to properly transact the sale to the best
    interest of the customer as well as yourself. A thorough
    knowledge of the stock helps you to do this. Take care of it and
    keep it in condition to show and to sell to the best advantage.

    It is a recognized business fact that a following of satisfied
    customers is the best possible advertisement that any business
    or salesman can have. Satisfied customers return and make other
    purchases; they influence other customers to come to the store
    or department. This increases your sales and the profits of your
    firm. An increased volume of sales increases the value of the
    salesman. The person who sells the most goods with the greatest
    satisfaction to all parties concerned receives the greatest
    reward in compensation and promotion.


Bearing in mind the important fact that style goods must be sold during
the current season, it is clear at once that the salesman must keep
himself posted at all times on new goods received. A week lost in
getting informed of the fact that there is a new style in stock means
more than the loss of six business days. It may mean that a certain
number of customers have been required to accept goods less desirable to
them, or it may mean that the business has been lost altogether. The
customer does not buy shoes every week or every month, and on that
account a sale lost this week often results in the loss of a sale for
the season. The time to sell seasonal goods is at the opening of the
season, and every day past the opening reduces the possibility of a
profitable turnover and increases the prospects of “left-overs” and dead

New styles coming in should be carefully studied to determine the type
of feet for which they are most suitable. To show a woman a new style of
shoe just received, and explain to her that it represents the most
advanced model of the season, would be good business provided she could
be properly fitted in such a shoe. On the other hand, if her foot is of
such a shape that it could not wear the new style, it would be better
business for the salesman to say nothing about the new styles and to
give his whole attention to the shoes he has to fit the particular foot.
To be prepared to meet this situation when it occurs requires that all
shoes in the stock be studied with the idea of learning their points of
advantage or limitation as applied to different classes of feet.

In line with this same suggestion is that of watching the stock of sizes
in new goods received. The particular size may have been out of stock
three days or a week ago, but there is always the possibility of a new
shipment having been received. If the salesman does not actually know
the condition of the stock in a certain size, he should make it a point
to find out rather than to accept the fact that it was out of stock when
he inquired yesterday or two days ago. Above all he should not advertise
the fact that he does not know the stock with any such remarks as “I’m
_not sure_ that I have your size,” or “I don’t _think_ we have that


One of the very difficult problems that men in public life have to meet
is that of learning the opinions of the people they represent concerning
current matters of importance. For instance, the governor of a state or
the mayor of a city is seriously interested in the opinions and desires
of his constituents on matters that he will be called upon to settle. He
is not able to meet personally and learn the views of more than a dozen
or a few dozen people, and so he very wisely takes advantage of public
opinion—which includes criticism as well as favorable comment. In fact,
the experienced man will be more considerate of the criticism than the
commendation, because it gives him the advantage of good judgment on the
opposite side of the question. He is wise enough to know that his
opinion may not be sound, and for that reason he takes advice from his

In retail selling, also, there is the possibility of getting good advice
from critics. A customer may not be pleased with the style of a shoe,
the quality, color or fit, and will probably express that fact as a
criticism. Nobody delights in receiving criticisms, of course, but just
the same it is a wise merchant who considers these opinions of outsiders
and plans to take advantage of whatever good there may be in them. A
word dropped by a customer may contain the answer to the question of why
this or that line does not move. A word from the customer concerning the
kind of service he has received may contain a suggestion to the salesman
to give more attention to a feature of his work he may have been
overlooking and which may have been responsible for loss of sales.

A great many stores today take advantage of customers’ criticisms by
requiring the salesman to prepare a record of each sale that is lost and
the reason why it was lost. Every man, regardless of his position, can
afford to consider carefully any comments having to do with the quality
of his work. He should, moreover, consider them with an open mind, so
that he will be in a position to judge the value of each suggestion,
rather than simply to pass it by and try to forget it quickly because it
is unfavorable rather than a pat on the shoulder.


A New England merchant operating a country general store made it one of
his business rules that he would never sell an article at less than
cost. His way of figuring was that if he never made a sale at a loss he
could never lose money and consequently his business was bound to
prosper. And so he went on year after year faithfully following out his
original idea, which later became as a law to him. Each year contributed
to pile up more stock, and each year he found himself with more dead
stock, that steadily decreased in value the longer he kept it. There
could be only one result following from such a short-sighted policy—the
business died of dry-rot. It was then for the creditors to sell the
goods at whatever they would bring, and it was an actual fact that some
of the goods were found to have been in stock for twenty-five and thirty

For our purpose we are interested in this experience only as it shows
the importance of keeping the stock moving. The old country merchant
knew nothing of the meaning or importance of stock turnover. Today most
merchants understand that a great measure of their success in trading is
dependent upon the ability of the salesmen to sell out the stock
promptly. A profit is made only when the goods are sold, and therefore
the store’s success is measured by the number of times a line of goods
can be sold out or turned over during the course of a year. To say that
a certain line of shoes has a turnover of four, means that the line is
sold out and replaced with fresh stock four times during the year.

The following is a word of good advice given to merchants on this
important matter of turnover:

    Did you ever think of shoes as so many dollar bills lying on
    your shelves? Picture this thought in your mind. As long as they
    repose on your shelves they do not work for you. In fact,
    converted into shoes, they cost money and depreciate in value
    the longer they stay there. It would be better to have real
    dollar bills tucked away in your stocking; you would then
    receive no interest but they would not cost you money.

    Keep your stock moving!

    Clean out slow sellers!

    Stock turnover is the secret of success in conducting a store.

The salesman’s work has a very direct relation to the matter of stock
turnover, for, after all, he is closest to the customer and upon his
knowledge of the stock and selling ability depends a great deal of the
success in keeping the stock moving and of keeping it clean of short
lines and dead stock. This is no small responsibility. A knowledge of
the stock is essential. On the part of the salesman it requires that he
know what goods he has to offer, where he may find them _quickly_, their
particular merits and special advantages from the customer’s point of

                               CHAPTER XI
                          MONEY VALUE OF IDEAS


It is for the salesman, if he is to get results, to talk to his customer
in terms of _facts_ and _ideas_—not simply “words.” Sometimes we hear of
a person who “talks a great deal but says nothing,” and we understand by
this that his statements are without facts—that there is no point to
what he says. Personal selling is a matter of presenting the story to
the customer in such a way that he realizes he is getting information.
It is for the salesman to tell his story so that it will “get under the
customer’s skin.” This requires a certain amount of originality, a
knowledge of what is being sold, an understanding of the customer.

In reading footwear advertisements, which are simply printed selling
talks, it is interesting to notice how well the selling points are
presented to appeal to different classes of customers. The following
one, for instance, is directed to men. It is brief, but in a few words
brings out the story by emphasizing the qualities of comfort and
convenience, which are of greatest importance to most men:

    Low shoes give your ankles a holiday every day.

    Perhaps russet is a bit cooler—it’s easier to care for anyhow.

Other people think more of exact shoe fitting, especially if they are
having trouble with their feet. The main selling point in this case is
that of offering a shoe to do away with further troubles. The following
ad. shows how this was done. The shoe salesman has the same problem,
except that he has the advantage of meeting the buyer face to face and
can tell his story in a little different way.

    Ever have trouble with your feet? “Blank” wearers never do.
    That’s because the “Blank” fits perfectly—no pinching, nor pain
    for the grown-ups—no deformities for growing feet. The “Blank”
    shoe starts the foot right and keeps it so.

But, as every shoe salesman will know, different people have different
ideas concerning what is the feature most desirable in a shoe. To
impress the person who considers as uppermost the matter of appearance
and style, the selling talk is directed along a different line so as to
“get under the skin” of such a customer.

    If you have a pretty foot and ankle, wear a shoe that does
    them justice. If you haven’t, wear a shoe that makes them look
    as if the pretty foot and ankle were yours. “Blank” shoes for
    women emphasize the pretty foot, add grace and shapeliness to
    any foot. “Blank” shoes fit all over—not in spots. They fit
    around the ankle and they fit around the foot, and fit both
    with the smoothness of a stocking and the firmness of a glove.
    The fit of the ankle is for something more than looks. That
    graceful custom-made “curve” at the back holds the shoe firmly
    but gently in place. No up-and-down slide—heel-hurting and
    peace-impairing—to the “Blank” shoe.

These selling appeals are all made with the express purpose of meeting
the individual desires of different classes of people. The man who tells
the printed story realizes that he cannot get results in talking _style_
to the person who is suffering from foot trouble, or _vice versa_. He
realizes that there are many classes of customers and he plans his
selling talk so that it will be accepted by the people to whom he is
talking. The salesman will realize at once that he must meet the same


Just as it is possible for a man, by mixing brains with his effort, to
make two blades of grass grow where one grew before, or to grow two
bushels of wheat on the plot that formerly produced but one, so also the
salesman may increase his production of sales. With him it is a matter
of seasoning his effort with ideas and suggestions that will appeal to
the customer and stir-up the desire to buy. To illustrate: The manager
of one of the finest shoe departments in the United States has built up
a big business in patent low-cut shoes. The growth has come about
largely through the application of an original but simple idea that has
as its basis a positive suggestion to the customer. The plan may be
described briefly by mentioning the case of a woman who enters the
department to purchase a pair of spats. The salesman, working on the
idea, gets the spats, removes the customer’s shoes and puts on her feet
a pair of patent leather pumps. He had, of course, previously taken
notice of the size of the customer’s foot. Having put on the patent
leather shoes the salesman then adjusts the spats, dropping just a word
of explanation to the effect that spats can be judged to better
advantage when fitted over patent low-cuts. The result in a large
percentage of cases is the sale of the patent leather shoes as well as
the spats.

Illustrations without number might be mentioned to show the generous
response, in the way of increased business, that follows in the path of
intelligent effort. Some of these the salesman might well use, without
variation, in his daily work; others he might improve to meet more
closely the demands of his own trade. However, the greatest good will
come to the salesman who uses these illustrations as a guide rather than
as a model to be copied line for line.

An incident worth mentioning is that of a gentleman accompanied by his
wife and two children who entered a shoe department to purchase a pair
of canvas shoes for the lady. It was in the early spring and the family
was starting off to spend some time in the country. While serving the
woman the salesman noticed that the husband was wearing heavy winter
shoes, and after completing the first sale he suggested a “pair of
comfortable canvas shoes for all-around country use,” and mentioned that
a new line had recently been received. He was then quickly on his way to
select a desirable shoe, and by the time he returned the customer had
half decided that he probably would be much more comfortable with a pair
of light shoes. The feel of the shoe upon his foot served to complete
his decision—and the sale followed. A bright remark on the salesman’s
part to the effect that he could furnish “two pairs of shoes for the
price of the one just bought” was an original way of suggesting shoes
for the two children. It appealed to the customer and another sale was
made. Furthermore, the customer was more pleased with having purchased
the four pairs than he would have been with only the one he had first
planned to buy.

It is out of the question to suggest that this plan or any other would
produce results in every instance—every salesman knows that it would
not. On the other hand, it does very clearly point out how intelligent
effort on the salesman’s part can be turned into sales when properly
directed to meet the needs of the individual customer.


There is probably not one customer in fifty who understands why it is to
his advantage to be provided with an extra pair of shoes. Most customers
would agree that, for the sake of variety, it would be well to have
another pair so that they might alternate in wearing different shoes.
But they do not realize that there is actually an advantage of money
saving to be gained.

It is for the salesman to offer a definite reason for the purchase of a
second pair. If the shoes are allowed to “rest” every other day or
perhaps for two days after each time they are worn the wearing life will
be much greater. By regularly changing off in this way, opportunity is
given for the foot perspiration to dry out before it is able to cause
any damaging effect upon the leather and fabric, especially that on the
inside of the shoe. In addition, there is the sanitary advantage. Most
people live in their shoes about sixteen hours a day and during that
time subject them to a variety of conditions of cold, heat and dampness.
From the standpoint of sanitation, it is as important to provide
sufficient ventilation for the shoe as it is to do so for the rooms in
which we live.


Satisfaction on the part of the customer is the basis of successful
merchandising. Every wide-awake salesman and dealer realizes this fact,
and makes it a part of his selling policy to insure the customer’s
entire satisfaction, as far as it is humanly possible to do so. The
mistake sometimes is made, in trying to please a customer, to leave an
unnecessary opening for dissatisfaction. For instance, the salesman
might make the remark to an undecided customer, “Take them home and if
they are not just what you want, bring them back.” The suggestion is
made with the best intention to serve well. But there is in it the germ
of indecision which may later develop into dissatisfaction and cause the
customer to return the goods when there may be no occasion for it.

The time for the salesman to complete the sale is when he has the
customer before him, face to face. There are exceptions to the rule, but
in general if the customer cannot decide favorably when he has the
benefit of the salesman’s advice and suggestion, it is not likely that
he will be able to do so later. To suggest a decision later is the
salesman’s admission that he has not completed the sale. What the buyer
requires is more selling effort, rather than more time so that he may
think it out for himself.

Closing the sale in the store means to learn just what the objections
are that are holding up the decision, and then to present selling facts
so that the objections will be overcome and the sale will follow
naturally. If the customer is told to work out his own salvation by
deciding later, it is likely that his objections will take on greater
proportions, while the advantages must fade into the background. The
result then is that the goods will be returned, and either the business
is lost altogether or else the effort to sell must be commenced all over
again. A sale that is completed when the customer first calls is good
business for the salesman. To the customer it is even more satisfying,
for the reason that he is put to no inconvenience in returning the pair
first bought and in selecting some other. He is also more favorably
impressed with the salesman’s ability to sell and his understanding of
the goods being offered.


When a salesman encourages business with outside friends he is justified
in his feeling that he is offering a higher quality of personal service
than the friend would receive at any other store where he is unknown to
the salesman. To begin with, there is a better basis of understanding
between the buyer and the seller. The salesman knows quite definitely
what his friend desires in style, fit, quality, and he may know his
price limitations. Furthermore, there is a natural personal interest in
the customer that must surely result in his receiving the maximum of
service. These are advantages to be gained by the friend. The salesman
has the advantage of an enlarged list of regular customers as a result
of a simple announcement that he is in the shoe business and that he
would like to have a call from his friends.

Along the same line may be considered the suggestion sometimes made by
the salesman to the effect that “I wear this style myself.” A point such
as this would carry weight with a close personal acquaintance of the
salesman and would be well worth bringing out whenever necessary.
However, to customers who are not personally acquainted with the
salesman it would probably seem out of place, and would carry no weight
in bringing about a decision. Rather than run the risk of being
misunderstood it would be better for the salesman to omit, as much as
possible, personal reference from his sales talk.


More and more the advantage of the telephone as a means of getting
business is coming to be realized by shoe salesmen who are alive to
ideas. With a list of his customers’ telephone numbers the salesman is
in a position to place himself and his story before any one of them
within a moment’s notice. He may have an announcement of the receipt of
a new line of styles which he knows will especially appeal to the
customer, or perhaps the salesman may have in stock a special-value shoe
of the customer’s size that he will be interested to see. It may be an
advance announcement of a sale, or any one of a dozen items of special
interest to a buyer. The telephone is at the salesman’s elbow. It is as
easy for him to tell his story to the customer as it is for him to “talk
about the weather” to the man standing alongside of him.

“Good-morning, Mrs. Brown, this is the Progressive Shoe Store—Mr. Smith
talking. You will be interested to know that we have today received our
complete line of spring styles. There are two or three of the models I
know will appeal to you especially.” ... “Wednesday? Very well, I’ll
have them ready to show when you call.”

The customer appreciates genuine service of this kind. It requires just
a moment of the salesman’s time, but produces big results in the form of
increased business, and it establishes the good-will of the customer,
both in the store and the salesman.


It requires somewhat more time and a little extra effort on the
salesman’s part to write a short, personal letter to his customers to
accompany the season’s announcement. The telephone can be employed,
perhaps, with less effort, but it is not always possible to make use of
this means of getting in touch with customers. There are some buyers who
live out of town, and others who cannot be reached by telephone—but the
mails go everywhere.

The personal letter has its advantage in that it makes a more lasting
impression on the customer’s mind. It is of a more permanent nature and
is consequently less easily forgotten. Also it serves to get the
salesman’s name before the customer in such a way that it will be
remembered. It is a known fact that people remember what they read for a
longer time than they do the things they hear. This is no small matter
from the standpoint of the salesman, because he is continually working
to single himself out from all other shoe salesmen in the mind of the
customer and thus to build up a personal following of his own. A short,
business-like letter will go a long way toward establishing such a


The inside display case is the shoe store’s open picture book. Almost
everyone enjoys looking at pictures, which is proved by the success of
the moving-picture show. Were the salesman merely to say, in suggesting
an additional purchase, that he has a pretty suede pump of a new model,
he could not do more than arouse a mild interest. On the other hand, if,
with the aid of the display case, he is able to bring the shoe directly
to the customer’s notice he at once has interest and his statements then
are not mere words, but facts.

Very often the tendency is to let the show case tell its own story; to
take it for granted that if the customer sees what he wants he will say
so and buy it. But that, generally, is not what happens. Most people are
inclined to hold back in making a decision to spend money, even though
they realize their need for the goods. A word from the salesman to
bridge over the gap many times is all that is required to complete the
sale. Display fixtures are mechanical and have their purpose to reduce
the salesman’s physical effort in showing the goods. They do not take
the place of the salesman but serve as his convenience to show more and
to sell more goods. It does not take a great deal of extra effort to
finish off the sale of a pair of shoes with an additional sale of shoe
trees, hosiery, shoe dressing or some other findings, but the business
amounts to a substantial figure in the course of a month.


Just as it is important for the salesman to develop positive,
money-making ideas, it is necessary for him to guard against anything in
his selling talk that will result to deaden the customer’s confidence.
Lincoln very wisely said, with his original knack of expressing the
point so that no one could miss it, that “you can fool all the people
some of the time, you can fool some of the people all the time, but you
can’t fool all the people all the time.” Ninety-nine per cent of the
customers are in the class of people who may be fooled once but who make
it their special business to guard against it the second time.

Exaggeration is one way of fooling the customer. There are times when a
sale might be closed more quickly by stretching the truth, but the
advantage to the salesman and the store cannot be lasting on such a
basis. When the customer learns that he has been fooled, and in most
cases he will find it out, his further business will very likely be lost
forever. The customer has been given a just cause for grievance and it
will be necessary to overcome his strong prejudice before he can be
brought into the store again. He will never entirely forget the
occurrence even though he might overlook it for the time being.
Moreover, it will surely be revived in his mind at a later time upon any
slight indication of what might seem to be an attempt at unfair

Exaggeration is largely a matter of habit. If the salesman allows
himself to stretch a point today and he finds that it works, the chances
are that he will try the same trick a second and a third time, until
finally the exaggeration comes to him so naturally that he does not
realize he is fooling the customer. On the other hand, it is a matter of
habit also to cultivate honesty and square dealing. If the customer is
given the true facts in the first place it means that there can be no
come-back—that he will know what to expect of the goods he has bought
and that he will respect the man who sold them, when he finds that they
come up to his expectations.


Another point of importance along this general line of thought is that
of guarding against forced sales. Once in a great while it may happen
that a salesman does not have in stock the shoe he knows the customer
should have. Perhaps the customer may have a foot of such unusual shape
that it requires either a custom-made shoe or some special model not
carried in stock. Even though the salesman were to force on such a man a
pair of shoes that would not give him service, there could be no
permanent advantage. If the customer did not later return the shoes for
a claim he would probably pocket his loss with the feeling that he had
been beaten.

C. A. Reynolds, president of the Keystone Leather Company, Camden, New
Jersey, who, as a young man, was a retail shoe salesman, tells of an
experience of his that illustrates this point. A customer entered the
store, asked to be fitted, and explained that he was having considerable
trouble with his feet. Upon examining the foot the young salesman (who
was Mr. Reynolds) noticed that it was of such a shape and in such a
condition as to require a special type of shoe that was not kept in
stock. The salesman frankly explained the facts and then advised the
customer where he could get the shoe he needed. The sale had been lost,
but the customer was pleased because he found what he wanted in the
store to which he had been directed. He returned to thank the young man
for his advice. And he did more; he later brought his wife and three
children to be fitted where he knew they would receive _service_.

It was a matter of losing one customer to gain four. The experience
illustrates the difference between the short-sighted policy of “a sale
at any cost,” and the true basis of selling on the foundation of

                              CHAPTER XII

                           SELLING P.M. GOODS


Among retail merchants there has in the past been a great deal of
discussion concerning the advantages and disadvantages of the system of
offering the salesman special premiums for the sale of certain of the
goods in stock. Probably every shoe salesman knows that _P.M._ is an
abbreviation for the term _Premium Merchandise_, _Premium Money_, or, as
it is sometimes known to the salesman, “pin money.” It represents a
special commission offered the salesman for the sale of certain
specified goods.

In every store there is some of the stock that calls for extra effort
and skill on the part of the salesman in disposing of it. The goods may
be slow-selling lines, discontinued or broken styles, extreme sizes and
widths, or in some instances the premium may be placed on certain grades
of higher priced goods. Whatever the reason may be in the individual
case, the premium is offered as an incentive to the salesman to put
forth extra effort to move the P.M. stock. From the standpoint of good
merchandising it is important for the retailer to turn over his stock as
quickly and as often as possible for the reason, as already mentioned,
that the profit is made only when the goods are sold and that capital
tied up in dead stock is wasteful.

By keeping a daily record of sales according to sizes and styles, the
manager is able to tell at a glance just which goods are moving and
which are the “shelf-warmers.” Some stores, when it is found that a shoe
has not moved within thirty or sixty days, immediately make inquiries to
determine the reason. If it is found that there have been objections to
the shoe, expressed by the customer, and if the management decides that
these will permanently interfere with sales, the goods are at once
classed as P.M.’s and arrangements are made to dispose of them promptly.
The truth is that the longer goods of this kind remain in stock the more
difficult it will be finally to get rid of them.


In favor of the premium system may be mentioned the fact that it is an
effective means of keeping the shelves clean, at all times, of dead
stock. To the house it means a smaller profit on the sale as a result of
the extra commission paid the salesman, but this is more than
overbalanced by the fact that goods are being steadily kept moving and
that there would result an even greater loss if they were allowed to
remain in stock indefinitely.

The particular advantage to the salesman is that he is encouraged to
sell goods that require on his part a higher degree of salesmanship than
that called for in selling the popular lines. Then, of course, there is
the evident advantage he has to increase his earnings to the extent of
the premium.


It is not to be expected that the P.M. system has all advantages in its
favor, and none of the disadvantages to offset them. Indeed, there are
many retailers today who are very strongly opposed to the premium system
and who will not introduce it into their own organizations, on the
ground that it works against the best interests of the customer. The
opposition is based on the claim that the tendency to earn the reward is
so great on the part of the salesman that there is the likelihood that
the customer will be prevailed upon to buy goods that are not best
suited to his needs. In other words, the inexperienced salesman will
have foremost in his mind the fact that a certain shoe bears a P.M., and
in order to earn this for himself he will adopt the short-sighted policy
of selling the shoe to the customer, even though he may know it to be
the one not best suited.

If the salesman should allow himself to be influenced in this way in
order to earn a small commission, it is certainly true that the premium
system would be a failure. It would be a great deal better to have the
dead stock on the shelves than to allow the customers to be badly
served. The result would be to lose the customer, and this, of course,
would be fatal to the business if the system were allowed to continue.
It is from “repeat” business that the store makes its soundest profits,
and it is also from “repeat” business that the salesman establishes
himself as a big sales producer. He cannot afford to allow a small
temporary gain in the form of a premium to stand in the way of his
future development and success as a salesman.


Mr. Willson of Rice & Hutchins makes the following suggestions
concerning the salesman’s proper attitude toward premium goods:

    In his service to the customer, the successful salesman will
    consider first, the customer’s interests; second, the firm’s;
    and finally, his own. This is the basis of true service.

    As we serve, so shall we profit.

    Service and not self is the basis on which the success of
    present-day business is built. The salesman who has set a high
    standard for himself will use P.M.’s in the proper way—as an
    incentive to learn the stock and to improve the quality of his
    own work. The broadest minds in the retail merchandising field
    will tell you that the most capable salesman will sell, first,
    the goods that have been in stock the longest, discontinued or
    broken styles and the higher grades of merchandise—_whenever
    these goods will properly serve to satisfy the purchaser_.

    The P.M. system is intended as a means of stimulating the
    salesman’s ability to serve and to satisfy the customer. If you,
    as a salesman, do not plan for the steady improvement of your
    work day by day, you will fail, whether you are working on the
    P.M. system or any other system.

    When properly understood by the salesman, the premium plan
    encourages better service, better business, better salesmen,
    bigger profits for the store and bigger earnings for the



The responsibility of meeting and bringing about a settlement with the
customer who presents a claim for adjustment, exchange or return is
generally placed in the hands of the store manager or an assistant.
However, this important matter will be considered here for the reason
that every shoe salesman, although he may not at present be holding
either of these positions, is looking forward and preparing to assume
the greater responsibility. For that reason he has a special interest in
this subject of complaints and adjustments.

When the customer returns to the store for the special purpose of
registering a complaint concerning the goods, he sometimes has the
feeling that he has been unfairly treated. He may have the suspicion
that an imperfect article was intentionally sold to him because he
seemed “easy.” In fact, if he thinks about it long enough, he will
probably recall that when he made the purchase the salesman spent some
extra time looking over the stock—and before long the customer will
convince himself that the selection was made from a job lot. He may
decide that he has had palmed off on him a shoe that was a “second,” and
that it was done deliberately. Nothing but imagination on his part, of
course, but in a great many instances these are the thoughts that go
through a customer’s mind if he is dissatisfied with a shoe or if it has
failed to give him proper wearing service.

He approaches the store with fire in his eye, and is all keyed-up to
meet opposition. “I’m not at all satisfied with these shoes; they are
imperfect and I expect you to make good,” he blurts out and expects a
similar reply. “I’m obliged to you, Mr. Jones, for bringing them back so
that we may get at the cause of the trouble,” is the salesman’s
reply—and the customer is at once without defence. He has planned to
meet opposition but finds that the salesman is _with_ him rather than
_against_ him, and the one-sided argument has ended. The customer is
then in a frame of mind to listen to reason.

A brief explanation to tell him of the special care that is exercised in
the inspection of shoes is often a good means of establishing the
customer’s future business on a permanent basis. Explain to him, for
example, that “a rigid inspection of all shoes is made as they arrive,
and never is anything allowed to go into stock when there is the
slightest indication of weakness—still we cannot always tell what is
underneath the surface of the leather. Of course, in cutting shoes only
selected skins are used, but even with this extra precaution
occasionally a weak spot is found in a skin after the shoes are worn.”
These are features of service the customer receives and still in most
cases he knows nothing about them. The opportunity is offered in a case
of this kind to impress upon him the facts and thus to strengthen his
confidence in the ability of the salesman and the store to serve him
well in the future.


There is a story of an old woman who had her small savings in a bank
which was reported to be in difficulties. At once she started out and
appeared, bank book in hand, before the paying teller’s window.

    “Have you got my money in there?” she inquired.

    “Yes, madam, do you wish to withdraw it?”

    “Well, if you’ve got it I won’t bother, but if you haven’t got
    it, I want to take it out.”

Oftentimes the circumstances are much the same with the customer who
asks for permission to return goods. In general, retail merchants have
found it to be the best policy to show a willingness to grant cheerfully
and quickly the permission and, in a cash business, to refund the money.
This is a part of the store’s service to its customers and in every
instance it will make a favorable and lasting impression. When the
customer is satisfied in this way it means that other purchases will
shortly follow, if it is not possible to make another sale at once.


The return or exchange of any goods that have been damaged or abused,
unless there is in them an imperfection, should be carefully guarded
against. If the goods are imperfect and are not up to standard there is
every reason for allowing the return or exchange, but there is no good
reason why the store should be called upon to pocket a loss as a result
of the customer’s change of mind after having used or abused the goods.

Concerning the return of goods that may be resold without loss, it is a
rather general policy to permit an exchange without ceremony and to do
it cheerfully and promptly. The idea behind this is that the customer
has every right to change his mind regarding the purchase. The fact that
he has previously been fitted and sold should in no way enter into
consideration to limit the amount or quality of service offered on the
exchange sale. This is another refinement of the broad business
principle of giving the customer just a little more than he may be
entitled to. It pays, however, for the reason that it establishes a
sounder basis of business friendship and good-will.

It is clear, of course, that if the customer should show a desire to
exchange a shoe for one less desirable from the standpoint of fit and
comfort, the salesman would offer the benefit of his more expert
knowledge by explaining the facts, without insisting.


There can be no hard and fast rules laid down concerning the extent or
amount that should be allowed on claims for allowances. The principal
point is to meet the customer on even ground when the claim is made, and
as already, mentioned, to get him in the proper frame of mind so that he
will be in condition to think on a reasonable basis and without

Frank Butterworth, store sales manager for the Regal Shoe Company, makes
some practical suggestions concerning adjustments:

    Our policy, like that of other progressive retailers, is that
    “the customer is always right.” We have confidence that the
    average American wants to play fair. For that reason we make it
    a general custom to let the customer adjust his own complaint.
    Experience has shown that our idea of what is a reasonable
    amount to be allowed on a claim is often lower than the
    customer’s estimate. On the other hand there are just as many
    cases where the actual cost of settling a claim is less when the
    adjustment is left to the customer. After making settlement of
    the claim our policy is always to resell the worn shoes to the
    customer. We believe that even in their unsatisfactory
    condition, they are worth more to the customer than to anyone
    else and that it is to the advantage of the customer, ourselves
    and the whole shoe industry to get all the use possible out of
    every foot of leather that goes into shoes.



Co-operation is a matter of _pulling together_ so as to produce the best
results for everyone concerned. It requires that everyone in the
organization shall work as a unit for the common good of the customer,
the store and each person in the store. A salesman cannot hope for
results by trying to work independently of his fellow workers, the
office, the management and the whole store system.

A most important feature of co-operation is that called for in cases
where it is necessary to turn over a customer to some other salesman to
complete the sale. It is a valuable salesman who realizes, even before
the customer himself, that there is a lack of interest or confidence on
the part of the customer. There are times when he should be turned over
from one salesman to another. When the customer first shows any
restlessness and is not just satisfied with this, that or the other
style that has been shown him the salesman has his first cue. He should
not wait until he has shown the entire stock of merchandise. He owes it
to his team partner to leave something for him to work with.

The transferring of a customer to another salesman does not necessarily
mean that the second man is more capable than the first. If the sale is
completed by the turnover man it may mean simply that his manner of
approach and selling talk is more to the liking of that particular
customer. People have special preferences for different styles of
clothes or kinds of reading. Even the best of salesmen will have their
occasional difficulties due simply to the fact that their personalities
or methods of selling do not harmonize with the views and preferences of
the customer. As a general rule the salesman who turns business to his
team partner will often find that there are just as many instances when
his partner will find it necessary to do likewise. For this reason the
question is not so much one of salesmanship as it is of giving the
customer the kind of service that pleases him most and that secures his

The salesman would not be doing himself full justice if he did not make
a special effort to determine for his own good whether there had been
any part of his selling effort that was weak and that may have been
responsible for the customer’s lack of confidence. Perhaps he had
misjudged what was wanted in the matter of style or quality or perhaps
he had not been positive enough in his efforts. He may have been only
lukewarm with the customer who needed to be assisted in making a
decision or he may have been too insistent with the man who preferred to
do his own deciding. It is well for the salesman to learn these things
at the time so that he will be in a position to profit by the experience
and steadily improve the quality of his work. A few minutes spent in
going over the circumstances with the salesman who completed the sale
will be found to be well worth the time and effort from the standpoint
of better business made possible through the ability to understand and
serve all classes of customers.


The management of the store or department may provide for team work
among the salesmen but it is for the men themselves to determine the
degree of success they are to have in working together. No man can be a
genuine success who cannot pull together with the men around him.
Friction among the men and women who make up a business organization is
like friction between parts making up a machine. It results in wearing
out the parts that are not working properly and it retards the work of
the whole machine. Any man in the organization who tries to work alone
and in disregard of the other parts of the business machine is bound to
cause friction, and as a result of this he will wear himself out and
limit the advancement to which he would otherwise be entitled.

The salesman should pull together with the advertising department. He
should make it part of his job to study the store advertisements as soon
as they appear so that he may fully understand all the selling points of
the goods advertised and so that he may know exactly what the customer
has in mind when he calls for a particular style or quality advertised.
This is part of the salesman’s responsibility to himself and his job,
provided he is serious enough about it to figure beyond the weekly pay
envelope and to plan each day’s work so that it will serve as a stepping
stone to the position of greater responsibility—toward success, which is
the goal of every red blooded and clear thinking man and woman in
business. The salesman should actually study every piece of advertising
matter put out by the store, whether it be a catalogue, sales letter,
newspaper announcement or window display card. The interested customer
will study the ads., and surely the salesman cannot afford to do any

Not only should he study the advertising of his own store but he should
make himself familiar with what is being done by other stores in the
same line. No man, no matter how capable he may be, is beyond the point
where he can profit by the experience and ideas of other men. The
salesman who is alive to his responsibility and who is pulling together
with other departments of the business will often be able to make
valuable suggestions based upon ideas that he has gathered outside the

Every advancement that has ever been made in business, in science and
every other branch of the world’s work, has been the result of an idea
of some one who was able to look a little further ahead than the rank
and file of other people around him. The salesman’s idea may be one to
improve the style of advertising or it may be an idea on some improved
method of stock arrangement, window display, delivering the goods, or
meeting objection on the part of the customer. There are dozens of such
opportunities for improvement in every business but they come only to
the man who has his net out to catch them. In other words, the salesman
must go half way to meet them by taking the trouble to look around with
an observing eye and by thinking along the line of improvement, both for
himself and the business with which he is associated. The two are so
closely related that a man cannot advance the interests of the business
without advancing his own interests also. An original idea is one of the
most valuable things in business. The man who can produce it is the
director of his future.


In every organization, business or otherwise where there are a number of
people working together it is essential that there be provided a certain
fixed method of operation to insure the best results throughout. A
transaction is not complete when the salesman makes the sale. It must be
followed up, for instance, with certain very important work in the
office department. Records of sales and customers’ charge accounts,
stock records and reports of various kinds must be prepared for the
management. All these things are essential—no business can get its full
share of success unless it has the benefit of correct statements
concerning present conditions and results of operations in the past. The
records serve the same purpose to the manager of a business as a chart
of the sea serves the navigator in guiding the course of his vessel.

The salesman has a responsibility to co-operate with the office by
providing a complete and correct record of every sale, exchange or
return that passes through his hands. He may feel that certain of the
information called for is not necessary and consequently he may
disregard it in the preparation of his sales tickets. The important
thing for him to remember, however, is that the work of the office
begins where the salesman’s work ends. Every item of information called
for is necessary and important—to supply any less means that the
correctness of the office records will suffer and as a result their
usefulness will be reduced. Customers’ names, their correct addresses,
the address to which delivery is to be made, information concerning the
billing and payment, records of the style and sizes of stock sold—all of
these facts are of the greatest importance from the standpoint of the
management. If the salesman fails in giving the correct information in
the first place, the error will necessarily be passed along and limit,
if not destroy, the usefulness of the whole record system. A moment
longer spent by the salesman in preparing the ticket at the time the
sale is made will give him the opportunity to get the facts, to get them
correctly and to get them complete.

The store system requires of the salesman that he co-operate also with
the shipping department. First of all this demands that he get the
correct instructions concerning delivery and that he make it part of his
job to get them down in black and white so that there can be no
loop-hole for error in having the goods go astray. Anything that acts
against the entire satisfaction of the customer is bound to reflect upon
the salesman as well as the store. For that reason, if for no other,
there is a responsibility to work hand in hand with every department,
for the full satisfaction of the customer. Co-operation with the
shipping or delivery department means, in addition, that the salesman
shall know in a general way what is possible in the way of delivery
before making a definite promise to a customer. Before giving the
assurance that a package will be delivered “tomorrow morning” he should
first of all know whether such a thing is practicable in view of the
work already in hand. This may seem a small matter and, in fact, it is
because it calls for but a small amount of extra effort on the
salesman’s part to keep himself informed on such things and to guide
himself accordingly. However, there is always the possibility of serious
trouble and possible loss of business brought about through
disappointment caused the customer as a result of unfilled promises made
by a salesman at the time of the sale.


It is a fact generally recognized that authority and responsibility move
to the man who shows himself able to assume them. What every live,
progressive business organization is looking for today is the man
capable of measuring-up to the big jobs—not simply the man who has been
with the concern for a long while, but rather the man who has shown
himself broad enough to shoulder and to carry authority. There is a vast
difference between the man who is merely _willing_ to accept a bigger
position and the man who shows himself _able_ to accept. The one may
have nothing more than a vague hope, whereas the other has a burning
desire and a determination to move on and up.

The salesman of purpose puts into his work the spirit of partnership—the
spirit that he is working in the interests of “our” store, of which he
is a part. Another man measures the extent of his service according to
the idea that his effort is entirely for “their” store—and he limits his
own progress accordingly. The man of purpose will naturally show that he
is capable of handling authority, he will take pleasure in doing his
work well and he will steadily move up to the higher plane of usefulness
and responsibility. Such a man will work _with_ the management of the
business to improve conditions as he finds them. No progressive manager
is so satisfied with himself and his own way of doing things that he
would not welcome suggestions for improvement coming from anyone in the
organization. If he is a man of experience he knows that no matter how
clever he might be he could not himself hope to discover every
opportunity of improving his business. For years the oil refiners of the
country had been throwing away the most valuable part of the petroleum
product, as produced by nature, until one day a man with a different
point of view proved that millions of dollars worth of oil products were
annually being carted away in the dump wagons. Now we have a hundred
useful products extracted from the mass.

Every man in business today should realize the important fact that his
work, no matter what the nature of it may be, is not a cut and dried
process or method to be accepted and worked upon as handed down by those
who preceded him. Rather, it is a responsibility and an opportunity. He
should, of course, take advantage of the experience of those who have
preceded him in the work, but that should be to him simply the starting
point from which he may begin to develop his own ideas and improvements.
When a man gets into the habit of regarding his work as an opportunity
rather than a task he naturally takes a personal responsibility in
developing himself and improving the quality of his work. Whatever he
does will have behind it a purpose. The man will work with his eyes open
to opportunities for improvement. This does not mean, however, that he
will take the attitude of criticizing or fault finding, but rather the
attitude of working with his fellow workers and the management for the
good of all concerned.

Too often we learn of the man of ability, who because of his modesty,
hesitates to make known his ideas for improvements. He perhaps has the
feeling that he is not able to contribute anything that his boss does
not already know, and may never come to the point of making his ideas
known. In doing this, he is of course working against his own best
interests and those of the business. He should get himself into the
habit of airing his views on anything that has to do with the interests
of the business. He should get into the habit of talking with those in
authority. His first suggestion, perhaps, may not be entirely workable
but he will at least have the satisfaction of knowing _why_, and he will
be the better informed in working out his second and third suggestions.
All this calls for the putting forth of some extra effort and the use of
brains, but it spells the difference between the man who is able to
shoulder responsibility and the one who simply follows instructions. The
difference is well worth the extra effort to the man who has the faith
in himself to plan definitely his success.


The twentieth century is an age of specialists—men who are experts in a
particular branch of important work. The time was when a man was
classified as a doctor; now he is a specialist in cases having to do
with the treatment of the eye, the throat, the stomach, the feet or more
than a dozen other of the specialized branches into which the profession
is today divided. The lawyer also is a specialist. He may be an expert
in real estate law, insurance law, trade mark law, or admiralty law, but
he is a specialist or expert in some one particular subject and he is in
demand because he is recognized as an authority by people desiring
information and advice in his particular field.

In the same way the shoe salesman should aim to make himself an expert
in his field of work. He should know the subjects of correct fitting,
the processes of manufacture and the special advantages of each from the
standpoint of the customer, the materials used and their particular
points of merit—all these things and more he should know intimately
because they have a very direct bearing upon the quality and success of
his selling work. When the shoe salesman places his work upon such a
level that the customer may consult him for advice and suggestion
concerning style, service and fit he will then find himself in the same
demand and of like importance to experts in other fields of business
life. The opportunity is open. Only now are the people beginning to
realize the possibilities of genuine service and advice to be had in the
way of correct fitting and suggestion concerning styles and qualities.
The salesman who is willing to meet the demand by preparing to establish
himself in his work as a consulting expert is assured of a future
limited in the degree of success by nothing but the standard he sets for


Accomplishment in business or in any other field of endeavor is to a
large extent a state of mind. It requires first of all that the man
shall have a strong, healthy determination to succeed and confidence in
his ability to do so. It requires also that he shall be willing to
supply himself with the necessary tools to build success, in the same
way that the shoemaker provides himself with the necessary tools to make
a pair of shoes.

The Training Course for Retail Shoe Salesmen is the salesman’s kit of
tools with which he may build for himself success in his work. But he
must learn to use the tools. In other words, he must first _read_ the
Course and secondly he must make it a part of his daily selling work to
_apply the principles_. The suggestions made are practical and workable.
They are taken from the experience of men who have succeeded and
therefore they are not simply opinions but proven facts.

A man’s development is not something to be completed in a day or a week.
It is a gradual process of growth. The reader will do well to refer back
to this volume from time to time for the purpose of refreshing his
memory on the different matters bearing upon shoe salesmanship and self
development. In this way he will be in a position to determine the
extent of his progress along the lines suggested and, what is still more
important, he will be encouraged to renew his efforts in the knowledge
of his definite progress already made toward the greater success that
awaits him.



                          TRANSCRIBER’S NOTES

 1. Silently corrected typographical errors.
 2. Retained anachronistic and non-standard spellings as printed.
 3. Enclosed italics font in _underscores_.

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