( Originally Published Early 1900's )
Selling meats at a profit is the principal object of the Meat Retailer. This fundamental fact is not as fully realized by the average market owner as it should be. Modern chain store organizations, however, are fully aware that their main function in business is to sell meats, and sell them at a profit. There-fore, some of these organizations do not call their meat cutters clerks, but SALESMEN.
The most successful meat market is the one which sells the most meats at the largest profit. In other words, profit must be secured by sales, therefore, salesmanship is undoubtedly one of the most important functions in the retail meat industry today.
Salesmanship itself is a subject on which volumes have been written. On account of the limited space, only certain fundamental principles can herein be dealt with, as they may be of interest to the meat retailer.
The Kinds of Salesmanship
There are practically two distinct, basic types of salesman-ship, which may be divided into: First, retail salesmanship considered strictly from a competitive standpoint, to draw the maximum trade, which is, of course, entirely to the retailer's own benefit. Second, retail salesmanship to increase the consumption of meat, for the benefit of the retailer himself, and also the entire industry.
The retailer who practices superior salesmanship over that of his competitor will deprive him of a certain amount of business. The cost of doing business will be decreased in the progressive market, while in the other market which has been deprived of considerable business, the expenses will increase.
In other words, superior salesmanship has become an advantage to one retailer and a disadvantage to another and indicates that salesmanship is a very strong competitive weapon.
Good Salesmanship Benefits Industry
If the progressive market owner increases his sales to such an extent that the less progressive market will cease to exist, it will be of benefit to the industry, for fundamentally, the business which was done formerly in the non-progressive store is now done in the other market. This can better be illustrated by the following example: Assume that there is a town of ten markets, and three of the meat markets are forced out of business by progressive business methods adopted by the other seven. This will be a benefit to the community and also to the retailers, for the increased sales will usually decrease expenses in the other markets, thus enabling the public to buy meats at lower prices.
The other type of salesmanship is not related to competitive sales methods, but rather is the ideal salesmanship so badly needed in the retail meat industry, namely, that of increasing meat consumption. The retailer has ample opportunity to practice this type of salesmanship also.
Overselling Is Bad Practice
A clerk or meat cutter selling a customer more meats than are actually needed is not a good salesman. Excess in any-thing is detrimental, and the same is true in salesmanship. Meat retailers often hear the expression during the holiday season when customers have been buying turkey and other fowl, that they are sick and tired of eating turkey every day. As the general public is not well educated on the merits of the different parts of meat, the retailer has an unusual opportunity to practice salesmanship by suggesting certain cuts or kinds of meat to his trade. Many customers walk into the store not knowing what meats they really want to buy. With the average house-wife it is always a question of beef, veal, lamb or pork. In certain localities this narrows down to beef, veal and pork, as no lamb is eaten in certain sections of the United States. There-fore, a timely suggestion on the part of the clerk is often appreciated.
Example of Good Salesmanship
An example of good salesmanship in a meat market can be illustrated by a woman buying a few slices of ham. A woman buying two thick cut slices of ham at 65c per lb., will probably pay $1.00 for the two slices. The half of the ham from which these slices were cut could have been bought by the customer at, say, 45c per lb., or at a total of $1.85. The clerk selling these slices, and suggesting to the customer to buy the half ham at this proportionately lower price would have been a good sales-man. He would have made a larger sale, and at the same time saved money for the purchaser. The clerk could point out to the customer that ham will not spoil, that it could either be boiled, baked or roasted—that it is always convenient to have in the house. From the customer's standpoint it would have been an economical purchase.
Salesmanship such as this is a combination of retail salesman-ship for the market owner, and also for the industry. Examples such as these can be worked out on many different cuts of meat. While it may appear that a customer is over-buying it is not so, but it assures the customer of always having a supply of meat on hand which does not spoil.
Many owners do not attempt to practice salesmanship from the standpoint of helping the customer select the meats, and if what she sees does not suit her, allows her to walk out of the store. This may be the opinion of certain retailers, but not of the most progressive type.
Basic Principles of Good Salesmanship
Salesmanship is the one big item in business today that makes the wheels of commerce go round, and makes big stores out of little ones.
The basic principle of good salesmanship is to perform a trans-action of benefit to the customer and to retail market owners. The retailer can be of benefit to the customer by pointing out the most desirable meats for certain purposes, which can be bought at economical prices. He can sell meats with courtesy, tact, and at a reasonable profit. To practice salesmanship of this kind is beneficial to both the retailer and the consumer, and the industry as a whole.
To instil these thoughts into the minds of employes requires leadership and training. In other words, the boss of the market must be the leader and a master salesman. If he is indifferent to showing his men how to sell meats he must not expect rapid progress in business.
Large sales organizations train employes in certain standard salesmanship practices. The market which employs six men or more will find it of advantage to have printed rules as to how a customer should be handled. In smaller markets the owner has ample opportunity to train his employes personally.
There are certain rules which go hand in hand with salesmanship, and the first one is COURTESY. By courtesy it is not meant to flatter. When a sales transaction has been completed it requires a "thank you," and a "call again." Good salesmanship requires that a salesman must never argue with a customer—that satisfactory service is guaranteed.
An Example of Training
A progressive chain store organization known for its low turn-over of employes has put into printed form its code of ethics, which may be considered a condensed form of training for salesmanship in the meat market. It practically constitutes a treatise on retail salesmanship, and can be applied to any meat market, large or small. It contains the fundamental thoughts which should be instilled into every employe to become a better salesman.