Weird Binary World of Sales

This observation is apropos of nothing, but I have noticed something odd about the sales efforts of companies.  They seem to be either too aggressive or downright dormant.

I answer my own phone at work, so every day I hear the parade of people calling me asking for the "person who purchases your printer supplies."  Certain industries, including toner, office supplies, telecom, etc. seem to have irritatingly aggressive sales forces.

And then we have companies like Wham-O.  Yes, the toy guys.  We opened a new snow play area and are selling hundreds of plastic sleds a week.  Unfortunately, we can't find any manufacturer to talk to us about a distribution deal.  So one of my managers spends a part of each week combing every Sams Club and Wal-Mart in Northern Arizona to buy plastic sleds for resale.  I have called Wham-O, a large maker of these sleds, about twenty times.  I have talked to many different people.  I have been referred to several different reps and even the head of the sales department.  And no one will return my call, despite a plea that I want to buy hundreds of sleds a week. 

It is possible that in this Wal-Mart world, volume of this size from one retail outlet is not worth pursuing, but this casualness about making a sale really amazes me.  I would chalk it up to some unique circumstance at Wham-O, but I have had this experience with a number of other companies.  I can't tell you how many times I have left plaintive messages to firms saying "I want to buy a bunch of your product, can someone please call me back to tell me how."

Weird.  Fortunately, we finally had a Canadian company today actually returned our calls and was more than happy to sell us large lots of their product.  Oops, there goes the trade deficit.


  1. TJIC:

    I've had the same experience - on more than one occassion I've left voice mails that say "I'm trying to throw money in your lap; please call me back".


  2. Ray G:

    Hmm. Nice opportunity for a small manufacturer perhaps. Plastic forms are very expensive though, and so WalMart size buying is almost a necessity.

    Broadly speaking though, this is the kind of thing that opens doors for smaller companies, if you can find them, or if they can find you.

    I've been in and out of small shop manufacturing and aviation for 15 years or so, and this is a basic template of manufacturing in America. Small, often innovative things are made here first. Once they get to a certain point in production numberrs, they move abroad. And then somewhere in the cracks of the market, a need will arise, and some machinist or fabricator somewhere will say "Oh, I can make that." And so on, and so on.

    Maybe there's a business opportunity there for you personally, if you can find a plastics forming company here in Phx that is capable of making some kind of sled like shape without any new tooling for their forming equipment. Tooling is where the costs usually become prohibitive.

  3. Isaac Crawford:

    As a salesman, I am always amazed at other salesmen that don't seem to want to take money. I just came back from Malta and they had about the most apathetic sales force I've ever seen. This annoyed me greatly, but then I realized that I could make a fortune there. I would be the only salesman that gave a damn...


  4. Todd:

    Hey I can help you re snow goods. I am the Director of Sales for a sporting goods company in CA and we have snow sleds for sale.

  5. EclectEcon:

    I have run into similar problems with tradesman. I call and let them know about a sizeable renovation and ask for an estimate. I'm lucky if a third of the people I call ever show up. What's going on?

  6. Russell Nelson:

    I have had that problm in the electonics industry. You have to beg and plead with some companies to be allowed the privilege of buying their product. V. annoying.