June 14, 2004

News & Opinion: The History of Sales

By: Dylan Schleicher @ 2:03 PM – Filed under: Big Ideas & New Perspectives

In March, Harvard University Press released a book called Birth of a Salesman. It traces occupation of "salesman" from post-Revolutionary War to cuurent day. There was a review in Tuesday's WSJ (6/8/04, sub. needed). Here is one paragraph from it:
As salesmen evolved from independent operators to members of large organizations, managers searched for ways to systematize the sales process. Mark Twain's campaign to market the personal memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant, a book that he published, was a battle plan in itself. Twain instructed his nephew and publishing partner to concentrate on hiring veterans to canvass for sales and encouraging them to wear their Grand Army of the Republic badges. The canvassers received a 37-page manual on how to present the book to the customer, down to the smallest detail ("Put the book right in his lap, but you turn the pages.")

About Dylan Schleicher

Dylan Schleicher has been a part of the 800-CEO-READ claque since 2003. Even though he's stayed on at the company, he has not stayed put. After beginning in shipping & receiving, he joined customer service and accounting before moving into his current, highly elliptical orbit of duties overseeing the ChangeThis and In the Books websites, the company's annual review of books and in-house design. He lives with his wife and two children in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's West Side.