Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Thoughts for 5768: Ham Sales??!!

Last year right before Rosh Hashana, I did a column about a High Holiday sermon that no Rabbi would ever deliver... about lust and nudity and all those other things Southwest Airlines doesn't tolerate from its passengers. Heck my fellow Hebrews and Shebrews are a very loving bunch. Back in 1992, when I was at the movie theater watching the Sidney Lumet classic, "A Stranger Among Us" there was the famous scene when the undercover cop asks the Rabbinical student about what he was reading, as he was studying from the Kaballah. The student finally fessed up that he was reading about how to "take care of a woman!". From that moment on, I didn't have to be a psychic to know that Kaballah was going to become quite popular!! Speaking of movies, our next Movie Club series is the 007 in 07 6-pack with 6 different Bonds. The movies were picked by my pal Steve. First up: Goldfinger with Sean Connery.

Today we present more thoughts for the new year.. this time the topic involves selling ham. Huh?

If you read last week's column about Short Cuts, there seems to be some debate if the person I described as a slick vacuum cleaner salesman was actually a salesman or worked for a carpet cleaning company. He knocked on the door and told Peter Gallagher that he needed to see the lady of the house because she was the winner of a free carpet cleaning. He quickly entered the house and announced he was ready to present a clean carpet!! While some online commentators refer to the character as a carpet cleaner fulfilling the rules for a contest winner, my impression was that this was a very slick salesman who was using the free carpet cleaning as a ruse to get in the house and show off the amazing powers of his vacuum cleaner.

I know someone whose goal in life was to be the best salesman alive... He had heard legendary tales about a salesman who was so good that he could sell ham to an Orthodox Rabbi. My friend was not one to back down from a challenge or a double dog dare.... (now that we are past Labor Day, it's time for A Christmas Story analogies - did you notice I slipped in a reference to Gene Shepherd last week?) He decided that he would hook up with a food distribution company and attempt to sell hams to Orthodox Rabbis.

And it was quite an adventure. Door to door he went, and the reactions were quite interesting. One quoted from the "Curb Your Enthusiasm" ski lift episode with a "Are you f---'ing nuts?".. Another gave him a wink and handed him the business card of the nearby Reform Rabbi. But on he went.. and ultimately, he sold nothing.

He did learn a valuable lesson however... from his last customer... This orthodox rabbi.. we'll call him "Rabbi McLovin" sat him down and asked him why he was chosen to be a potential ham buyer. My friend was quite exasperated, and calling an audbile decided to go for the pity sale.. It was a ruse he used to try to hook up with ladies, so he figured that maybe, just maybe it would work for sales too. He proceeded to tell Rabbi McLovin about his misadventures after he felt compelled to answer the challenge of the great salesman who could sell ham to a rabbi. The Rabbi very patiently sat my friend down and told him... he did not need a Masters degree in marketing to realize that when you try to sell a product.. it is very important to KNOW your audience! The Rabbi politely explained that if he had taken the time to do proper research he would have realized that he was selling to an audience that has no need for a ham, and at that same time he very likely would have made a ton of commissions targeting the ham eating audience instead!".

The salesman couldn't get out of there quick enough to start trying to sell his new audience... but before he could depart, Rabbi McLovin gave him one more nugget of wisdom,.... "This is not a reflection on you; you are probably a very good salesman...but keep in mind that before you can sell someone on buying a ham, you need to sell someone on the concept of having ham be a part of their life. And before that little lightbulb goes off that you should try to sell me on the concept of a life filled with ham... that time could be better spent on selling ham to someone who already has a life of ham. Y'see before you came here, and to all the other Rabbis, we were already sold on the concept of a life without ham. The salesman who sold us that concept was a good salesman.. the ham-less lifestyle is part of our day to day lifestyle and we aren't changing.. because no matter how good a salesman you are... the prior salesman was that much better!"

After that, the ham salesman went on to have a very lucrative career....

Somewhere there is a moral to that story... but I am not one of these people who prosletyzes, so this is not a column about Jews keeping kosher. If you want to eat ham... hey it's your business, it gives the pork farmers some extra shekels in their pockets. However, today I want to talk about another concept that you may want to think about for 5758 - tossing some money to a charity.

Giving charity has been around forever. Just last week, I was watching the amazing Jerry Lewis rack up millions of dollars at his telethon and it amazes me how much stamina 84 year old Ed McMahon has to stand up there announcing for 21 hours without even loosening his tie. The telethon has been around for more than 40 years...but charity has been around much longer. As a matter of fact during the High Holy Days, we Jews say a prayer about how God uses the time between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur to decide who will be inscribed in the Book of Life during the upcoming year. And one way to enhance your chances of being around for 5769? According to the Prayer Book - giving charity!

Why not get one of those little charity boxes and start dropping in loose change or spare singles in there at the end of the day and at the end of the week? It makes you feel better about yourself that the little box holds something that used to be yours, but will one day make someone else's life that much better. And if you feel good that you were able to save 500 bucks... what makes you feel better about yourself?? Saving 500 bucks... Or saving 450 bucks and helping out another person (or animal if you are Bob Barkeristically inclined) by donating 50 bucks to charity? Heck, the US tax codes are written that people who itemize actually pay less taxes by sending some money to charity.. It doesn't get any easier than that!!. So why not toss in a few bucks on a regular basis to a worthwhile cause? I promise you that not only will it help others.... but it will make you a happier person!

One day you might hear a knock on the door... and you might find a very slick salesman. He might not be offering carpet cleaning or selling hams, but it might be even worse... He might be selling you on the concept of being miserly and NOT giving charity but keeping all of your money for yourself. I hope that as Dick Clark counts down the arrival of 5768 that you will be able to say an emphatic "NO" to that sales pitch because you have already committed yourself to a lifestyle of being charitable.

Shana Tova to my Jewish amigos!!

PUMPSTRADAMUS NFL PICK OF THE WEEK: We're doing the picks early this week due to Rosh Hashana.... The Pump is 1-0, and this week, TV Land was honoring "The Bob Newhart Show", so we travel to Chicago.. home of The Hartleys and Howard Borden where the Bears take on the Kansas City Chiefs. The Bears are favored by 12... Sayeth the Pump: "Since my former Cantor moved to Kansas City... I'm taking The Chiefs!"

By the way... did you ever realize how Seinfeld is very similar to The Bob Newhart Show... Bob is Jerry.... Jerry (the dentist) is George... Howard is Kramer... and Elaine is a hybrid of Emily and Carol!

THE UNBIASED GIANTS FAN PICKS OF THE WEEK: Last week this new feature premiered to a 1-1-1 record. This week's picks:

Dolphins 3 and a half home doggies to the Cowboys - Miami is ready for a big win in their home opener
Redskins 7 point doggies to Philadelphia - We're taking the Skins to knock the Eagles into an 0-2 stupor on MNF!!
Giants pick 'em against Green Bay - Injuries shminjuries.. its part of the game.. Let's take The Giants.. no matter what the spread...

CLIP OF THE WEEK: Speaking of pig products and the Jewish clergy, here is a classic scene from Woody Allen's "Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Sex But Were Afriad to Ask..." This is a clip that parodies the old panel game shows "What's My Line" and "I've Got a Secret". By the way, the actor who plays the "Bad Rabbi" is the father of Sidney Lumet!


jake said...

Actually, being a former Electrolux salesman, we would cold call people to schedule a 'Free' cleaning. We would proceed to clean a small section of the house, say a dining area or living room and then put on the hard sell to either buy the cleaner or the actual vacuum... this was a standard technique for this particular industry... you were right once again mr. Nate!

Nate said...

Thanks for the comment Jake.. it has been a wild and crazy day.. Today is my 30somethingth birthday and I just got word that... Brett Somers died!!! Oh no!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The best salesman know how to present their product in such a way that they create so much value for it, that it is more valuable than the money it would cost. A lot of the better salespeople out there take the time to educate the consumer about the product so that it ultimately virtually sells itself.