August 4, 2019

The FRED FRENCH Sales Talk

Today, a closer look at Fred F. French, Tudor City founder and accomplished salesman. Below, an account of a pep talk delivered to his sales team, excerpted from a profile of French that ran in the New Yorker on June 1, 1929.

Every morning, in a special auditorium in the French Building at 551 Fifth Avenue, the sales force of the Fred F. French Company gathers to listen to the words of the founder. The doors are locked by one of the vice presidents precisely at nine o'clock ‒ those who arrive late must wait outside: they press against the shut doors, straining to catch the words ‒ while Mr. French steps to the rostrum and talks. 

Usually his lectures have little to do with selling; they deal with the more intangible assets of success. Learn to smile, he says: "Stand before your bathroom mirror and practice smiling for ten minutes in the morning and at night. . . Get smiling into your system."

He is muscular, broad-shouldered, tall ‒ he stands six feet two inches ‒ and the young men, serious young men fresh from Harvard and Princeton seeking the key to attainment, decide to practice smiling. 

His voice can be soft and persuasive, and he knows how to make it thunder on occasion, and he knows the effect its thundering will have on the listener. "The best example for a sales talk is the life of Jesus Christ!" he proclaims. "He was the best salesman of all time. He said, 'Knock and it shall be opened unto you,' What he meant was, 'Keep knocking until the door is opened and if it isn't opened pretty soon, kick down the door." The other young men, locked outside the doors of the auditorium, listen gravely. . .


More about Fred French here

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