When I started selling jan/san supplies, my boss at the time gave me a toilet bowl swab and told me to go out and sell 100 of them. I was not allowed to sell anything else until I sold all 100. I took the swab with me and went out. After five days and countless cold calls I had only sold one.

A litany of thoughts went through my head: “What was I doing wrong? Why weren’t they selling? Am I a good salesmen? It’s only a dollar item. I am going to lose this job. What am I going to do?” My pride was definitely defeated.

The following Monday after fretting all weekend, I went to my boss and asked what I was doing wrong. He laughed at me and said, “You’re taking orders; you’re not selling.”


He showed me how to demo the bowl swab by taking a quart of toilet bowl cleaner and a bowl brush and proceeded to demo the product to me. He then said there were two lessons to be learned:

1.) Sell the $1 item and the $5,000 items will sell easier.
2.) Presentation without demonstration is merely conversation.

Lesson 1
You will find it easier to open a door with a quality product and an inexpensive price then to walk in and sell an automatic scrubber. Most customers are willing to take a chance and spend minimal dollars on something and if it works well with their employees, you build their confidence in you. If it doesn’t work well it may be time to find a new customer.

Always make sure that the employee using the product understands how to use the product properly; if not you will fail. Doing this also opens the door to talking with the employees about what products they are using. Are they using them properly? What products work and which products aren’t working? Solve more problems by working with the employees and they will recommend you. Now when it comes time to sell that automatic scrubber you will have created confidence that you know what’s best for your customer. Selling that scrubber just got easier, didn’t it?

Lesson 2
In our business no truer words have been spoken than: “Presentation without Demonstration is merely Conversation.”

Through the years, training new sales professionals has diminished to the point that there is no training. It has become an epidemic in our business. Show sales people the products to sell, give them the features and benefits of the product and expect them to sell at good margin. Most people are going to fail. It is time in our business to bring back training done properly or what margin we have will be down to nothing. We have created the opening for the box movers to take over. Teach your sales people to demo your products. Listen to them present your products. Show them how to solve customers’ problems with demonstration of your products. Your business will grow and profits will soar.

David Corker is a sales manager in the jan/san distribution industry. He can be reached at corkerdj@yahoo.com