THE SALESMAN'S DUTIES AND BILITIES 1. A salesman's responsibility.—The salesman on the road is, to a great extent, a business executive and, as such, is master of his own time. While a sales man ager may be able to check him up by the salesman's reports, by- the volume of his business and by previous records in the territory, it is quite possible for the salesman, if he will, to pass muster without giving his best efforts to his house. Probably nothing more sharply separates the subordinate from the executive than the fact that the average subordinate has an in clination to shirk and that he needs supervision, while the average executive has a natural inclination to put forth his best efforts and is not likely to quit at the first opportunity. The salesman should be proud of being in the executive class and should shoulder cheer fully the responsibility that his position entails. He is on his honor ; and be it known that the vast majority of salesmen, tho under the constant temptation to loaf on the job, do shoulder their responsibility cheerfully and warrant the trust that is placed in them.
Very often a salesman who is working on a straight commission basis feels that he has a perfect right to stop work for a day, or even more, if he so desires. "My compensation stops when I stop," he argues ; "if I am satisfied why should the house kick?" But com mission men are coming more and more to realize that while they may have a legal right to act on this theory, they certainly have no moral right to do so. For the house, in expectation of the business that they are presumably going to bring in by working every day, has provided certain facilities in the factory for the production of the commodity sold and made definite arrangements in the office for the handling of the salesman's orders. If the anticipated number of or ders does not come in, the expenses are not automatic ally reduced; they go on about the same as before. Consequently, the cost of handling the individual or der is higher and the net profit is reduced. If any
considerable number of the sales force took it into their heads to rest up for a couple of days, it is quite possible that the house would suffer an appreciable loss. Commission men are beginning to see things in this light and to assume the responsibility.
In this connection, Hugh Chalmers tells of the standard he set for himself when he was selling on straight commission. He had to pay his own ex penses, of course, so he always set out to earn the en tire month's expenses during the first twelve days. This method provided an incentive to hustle the first part of the month so as not to run over the allotted time for covering expenses. Whenever he kept within his time-limit, his commission during the rest of the vn—i3 month was clear profit. The realization of this fact was an incentive to hustle during the last half of the month in order that the month's profits might be as large as possible. On the last day of each month Ile always strove to close a lame volume of business, since every sale that was closed counted on the profits of that month, whereas, if a sale were delayed a day, the commission had to go toward the expenses of the next month. There is a fascination in such a method. The love of playing a game is inherent in all of us, and the salesman who would work at maximum efficiency would do well to set for himself some such standard as Mr. Chalmers' and play up to it.
2. Salesman's time and its use in business.—The salesman may well apply some of the principles of efficient management to his selling work. There is no other phase of business in which there is so much waste motion as there is in selling. Materials used in manu facturing are routed thru the factory. The progress of the work is systematic and direct. The material does not zigzag back and forth in the plant in an aim less fashion from one operation to another, and it does not travel half a mile between one department and an other. If such were the case, the cost of manufacture would doubtless be doubled or trebled.