Encouraged by the strong criticisms of the C.T.S. apathy----( J.S. relies on the " silent salesman ": the church door box—a reader of this newspaper, now in the Army, recounts his experience and his success as a live " go-getter " Catholic salesman.
He and his friends accounted, they claim, for a fifth of the British sales of Darkness Over the Earth, Papal Encyclical, published by C.T.S.
Useless to be Silent By M. WHITE That letter about C.T.S. literature aroused memories, he said. 4 am in the Army now but before the war I was keettly interested in the most important part of it. That is: distribution.
The chief C.T.S. way of reaching its public is' by the church door box. It calls this " The silent salesman," A silent salesman is useless; almost a contradiction in terms.
Towards the end of 1939 the Pope gave us the encyclical Darkness Over the Earth. The C.T.S. publish it immediately. I think surely every Catholic is going to get a copy. 1 see it in the " silent salesman " at St. Patrick's. A week later I ask the person in charge of the " silent salesman " how many she has sold. She says two out of the six copies she ordered. That in a parish of 3,000.
That stings me to action. I get together Bill Clifford and Murdoch and a girl called Louise and I say, " Let Lit sell this thing ; let us plaster Ledford with it."
And we do. Every Sunday for the following weeks we go to a different church in Bradford (there are 16) and we go to all the Masses and sell the Encyclical outside.
We sell over 2,000 copies in this way. At St. Patrick's, where (you will remember) the " silent salesman " sold two out of a possible six, we sold in one morning 320; at St. Mary's (the biggest church), over 400.
A year later I read in the annual report of the C.T.S. that the most popular pamphlet of the year was Darkness Over the Earth, of which 10,000 copies had been sold. I read that quickly, and then 1 went back and read it more slowly to see that I had got it right.
That meant that four of us had sold in one town one-fifth of the sales of the whole country.
There are 30,000 Catholics in Bradford, say 3,000,000 in the country. If we could sell 2,000, the total sales should have been 200,000; not 10,000.
CAREFUL PLANNING In selling you have to plan carefully.
First—rime. You must be there and ready waiting for them. Five minutes late at the church door and you have lost everybody.
Second—change. Arrange the night before that you all have so much copper and so much silver. A programme-seller at the football ground gave me some valuable tips on change. He had copper in his coat pocket, differein values of silver in his waistcoat, a sixpenny bit in his teeth and fourpcnce in his hand ; so that he could change anything for you at once. Delay with change and you will lose half-a-dozen customers.
Third—stance. Arrange your sellers on a wide front, not in depth. it annoys people to keep being stopped. Of course, it depends a lot on the terrain.
Fourth—recruit sellers. You can often get people you know in the parish to help you at one Mass. Use everyone you can get, but never rely on them turning up, or being much good.
Fifth — publicity. Very important.
Approach the parish priest by letter, or better. personally. Ask for a pulpit notice of the sale plus a recommendation. Write out on a piece or paper exactly what notice you want given. Leave the recommendation to the priest. If you yourself are present at the first Mass, listen carefully for it; if it is not announced ir you are not satisfied about it, go in and see somebody be
fore the next Mass. You lose a lot of sales if the notice isn't right. The other form of publicity you should use is a big placard or banner saying what you are selling.
Sixth--the act of selling. You are definitely not a " silent salesman." You should cry out loud what it is YOU are selling, like a newspaper boy. Let people know that something is being sold. Never stand with the pamphlets in your hand and wait for custom. As soon as you have sold one copy stop the next person and ask them to buy. Method of approach differs with the individual salesman, but that is the canon of church-door selling: never stand idle. You can say. " Will you buy a copy?" or better, " Have you your copy?" which implies that a sale is contemplated and is therefore .harder to reject. (Read American books on salesmanship, obtainable at any public library—most useful.) You haven't the time to argue with people or you will find that people you know will stop and talk to you and lose you dozens of customers. Be brutal with them. Ignore them, Keep on saying to people: " Have you your copy? etc. It is astonishing how people buy the thing because it is easier to buy it than to refuse it. Sometimes you will have about six people holding out shillings and sixpences and all wanting change. If you don't deal with them all at once they will go. Give them each the pamphlets at once and let them wait for their change. We hadn't been very long at the game before we found the key to successful selling, was selling going in as well as coming out. People come out fast but they go in slow. They approach in one's and two's. You can mark your quarry down.
BACON AND EGGS THREE TIMES
It means a full morning, of course. Sometimes we would take our breakfast with us and eat it in the porch; some times people we knew in the different parishes would take us to their homes. At St. Walburga's we did best, for we had breakfast from different people after each Mass. Three times that morning we sat down to bacon and ens tell you these things for your encouragement. But it is often hard and difficult: in journeyings often (we always had to walk, as there were no trams early on Sundays) in labours and painfulness, in. hunger and thirst (as, for instance, the time at St. Anne's, when Louise brought tea in a vacuum flask and forgot to put the cork in), in perils from false brethren (as when a man gave me two shillings and swore it was half-a-crown), But it is always so very much worth while.
When we finished the Encyclical we were approached and asked to sell Catholic newspapers. We did the round of the churches again. Our technique was the same. The sales were better. After that Gemma Galgani was carfonised. We sold the " life " in thousands.
We were planning bigger. We were going to tackle the West Riding and sell and sell. Anything and everything.
It does really seem to me an important work.
Then we were called up. Clifford is in Egypt picking the sand out of his soup. I don't know where Murdoch is. I am in the North of Scotland.
For the past fortnight I have been putting straw in sacks. I don't know where the straw comes from, not where the sacks go to. As I do it I dream and plan and wait for the future.
Just wait till the war's over. Just wait.
We will set England on fi-yer.