Thursday, June 28, 2007

A Manifesto of Salesmanship – “The Peddler’s Prerogative” by Dennis Ford

Unless you are reading The White Rhino Report for the first time, you have already figured out that I love books. I love reading them, buying them, borrowing them, lending them, giving them away, talking about them and reviewing them. I derive particular pleasure when an author becomes a friend, and conversely, when a friend becomes an author. So, I was delighted when my friend, Dennis Ford - Boston Irish to the core – contacted me a few months ago and asked if I would read some early chapters of the book he was writing. I loved what I was reading, and looked forward to the end of the book’s gestation period. Well, the baby has been born, and he came out kicking and screaming. Dennis named the baby: “The Peddler’s Prerogative – A Guide for Bag Carrying, Door Banging, Dialing for Dollars, Shoot the Moon, When in Doubt Panic and Accelerate, Kind of Sales Folk.” Try saying that all in one breath. And I thought my grandchildren had long names!

I love this book! If you are in sales, sales management, know someone in sales or interact with the sales process in any way, this book will be worth your while buying and reading.

Editorial note: I do not peddle books. I peddle recruiting services and my ability to help client companies find good leaders to join their teams. I have been asked many times why I do not include a link to when I review a book so I might earn a few shekels when someone links from my Blog to Amazon to buy the book. The answer is simple. I do not want to turn the sharing of my thoughts about books into a financial transaction; I want it to remain a personal and intellectual transaction between me and my readers. So, when I recommend that you buy a book, it is because I think you will be enriched in some way by what the author has said – not so I can experience financial gain.

Before I tell you about “The Peddler’s Prerogative,” I need to tell you something about the author, my friend, Dennis Ford. Other than Dennis, I can think of only one other author I know personally – Seth Godin – whose personality comes across so completely in his writing. Dennis the person jumps off the pages that have been written by Dennis the author. Picture this: Dennis Ford is one part the quick repartee of Dennis Miller, one part the intensity of Dennis Leary, one part the impish grin of Dennis the Menace and one part the chutzpah of Dennis Kucinich. Add a dash of Rodney Dangerfield’s “I can’t get no respect!” Throw in a soupcon of Donald Trump’s bravado and a sprinkling of Ronald Reagan’s Great Communicator persona, and you have the zesty bouillabaisse that is Dennis Ford! He is both a delight and a dynamo! To know him is to love him; to know him is to be both energized and exhausted by him.

And Dennis has thrown the full force of his personality, deep experience in sales and personal philosophy of selling and of living into this fascinating book. I wish I had a videotape of myself reading this book. There are many things that Dennis says in this book that needed to be said, so much so that I often found myself at the end of a paragraph responding viscerally to the truth of what I had just read: “You go, Dennis. Tell it like it is!” I even, literally, pumped my fist a few times, a la Jonathan Papelbon after closing out a Red Sox victory. This is no dry sales self-help book, but a thoroughly entertaining and informative rant from a peddler who has seen it all and done it all. This is a world-class salesman freely (well, almost freely – the book costs $24.95 – and is a bargain at this price!) sharing stories from his own rich storehouse of experiences in every aspect of sales – “peddlery” in Ford’s self-deprecating vernacular.

What I like most about this book is that it is not so much a book about “how to sell” as it is a book about “how to live” and “how to be human” while pursuing the peddler’s profession. Dennis Ford’s personal integrity screams from every page, just as it exudes for his every pore when you spend time with him in person. He fights tenaciously to make a sale, but he never cuts ethical corners or climbs over someone else to get the deal done. The revolutionary aspect of this manifesto is the assumption that, as a sales professional, you can be both aggressive and human, hard-hitting and fair. These are important words to hear and crucial lessons to be learned. And Dennis illustrates his key points and his 74 “Peddler’s Prerogatives” with pithy stories and anecdotes from his own career and those of his fellow peddlers.

In each chapter, the author finds a new way of hammering home the truth that the personality, ethics, attitude and relationships of the Peddler are far more important than the techniques he/she employs.

“As a peddler roaming through life, you probably interact with more people in a year than most folks do in a lifetime. How you relate to the folks you meet is a reflection of the type of person you are and how you generally see the world. How they react to you is an indication of whether they feel your good vibes and see you as real.” (Page 25)

One of the most important concepts that comes across loud and clear in this book is the importance of treating with respect and dignity the support staff that allow a great peddler to succeed – gatekeepers, technical staff, engineering and manufacturing professionals. To illustrate this point, as well as to highlight the creativity and tenacity it takes to survive and thrive as a peddler, Dennis tells a fascinating story about a trip he once took to the West Coast to close a deal. I do not want to spoil your fun in reading this tale yourself, but when you get this book, turn to pages 112-114 for Dennis’ account of him camping out for two days in the lobby of a customer’s headquarters. This story is quintessential Dennis Ford!

We often hear the phrase, “Put your money where you mouth is.” That is exactly what I have done with this book. I am so impressed with the book that Mr. Ford has written that I have purchased a bulk order, and plan to give copies to colleagues and to clients I feel will want to buy multiple copies for their sales forces, marketing departments and corporate executives.

You can purchase the book through and other on-line book sources, or directly from: If you mention that you heard about the book through The White Rhino Report, I’ll be willing to bet that Dennis will even sign the book for you.



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