Tin Men

Tin Men

Study Guide 15: Sales

This guide will soon be available for purchase as an instant download for $5.95.

Guide opening:

Baltimore,1963. You’re an aluminum siding salesman, a tin man. You live by your wits, your smile and your shoeshine. Sales are getting harder to come by. State regulators are cracking down on the hard sell – pressure sales that are your stock in trade. On top of that, you’re having some personal problems. Your wife’s on you to find a new line of work, and you’re in a vendetta with a salesman from another firm. Still, you’ve got pals – other tin men who, though they’d sell your leads out from under you, belong to a special fraternity; who understand the roller coaster of selling; who are masters of their trade. Tin Men, like Glengarry Glen Ross, has few positive lessons to teach a modern sales representative. But it has a lot to teach non-sales executives about how salespeople view themselves and how sales missions are often disconnected with other company goals.

An excerpt from the plot summary:

Bill “BB” Babowsky (Richard Dreyfuss) is about to buy a Cadillac. A car salesman takes him in his office to close the deal. Babowsky, himself a salesman, makes clear that he doesn’t want to hear any sales tricks. “I really don’t want you to hustle me,” BB tells the car salesman. “I hate that.”

The salesman asks BB how much he’s willing to pay and BB bristles. “You know you’re doing it already,” he tells the salesman. “You’re trying to hustle me. Why don’t you just tell me how much you want to sell it for. Then I’ll tell you whether or not I’ll pay it, and then we won’t have to get into this hustle thing.”

The car salesman denies he’s pulling a hustle and says he’s just trying to find out how much BB wants to pay. “Okay,” says BB. “Four dollars.” The dealer can’t believe it. “What do I really want to pay?” BB asks him. “I want to pay nothing. . .”

The deal eventually closes without the audience seeing the final details. The dealer tells BB to call if there any problems. BB confirms that he’s entitled to a loaner car if the Caddy has to spend a night in the shop. Then he backs off the lot, directly into the path of a Cadillac driven by Ernest Tilley (Danny DeVito). Both cars are damaged. The two men break into an argument and are soon at each other’s throats. Bystanders break up the fight, but the two men continue threatening each other. BB vows to get even with Tilley. A vendetta is on. BB turns to the salesman who sold him the car, grabs him by the collar and demands a loaner: “Right now! No talk!” The man nods. BB drives away in a used Corvair.

At BB’s office a bank of telemarketers pre-screens customers for their interest in aluminum siding. BB joins a group of siding salesmen, sipping coffee and waiting for their leads to be handed to them. He tells them about his accident. Then we see Ernest at his office: he works for a competing siding company. They are “tin men.”

Summary of the commentary:

The commentary first looks at the regulatory and legal issues that have ended the days of the tin men and other door-to-door specialists. It then moves on to compare and contrast, point-by-point, tin-man sales styles with contemporary, consultative sales techniques. Using a real-company example, actual sales training memos from the 1950s are compared to similar memos from the 1990s. The section also covers basic sales techniques such as generating and qualifying leads.

The commentary is supplemented by Breakout Boxes dealing with these topics:

  • Marketing vs. Sales: The Drucker Concept
  • 10 Steps to a Solid Close
  • Today’s Consultative Selling
  • Five Keys to Large Account Management
  • Four Successful Sales Personalities

THE GUIDE also includes an essay that looks at business as depicted in the movies. For an introductory section on how to use the Management Goes to the Movies™ program, click through to Using The MGTTM Training Program.

This guide will soon be available for purchase as an instant download for $5.95.