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experience of every member. When the girls first come to the school they are glad to talk about their successful sales, but hesitate to report their failures, but as they develop a professional attitude toward their work they submit all types of experience for class deliberation. These discussions are of great value in bringing up questions of vital importance which might not arise in connection with any other lesson.
3. The study of store system is chiefly concerned with the sales book. The book used by each store is first studied; the sales check itself is analyzed, the purpose and destination of each of its parts being determined before any sales records are written out. The pupils are taught the reason back of every rule, and are led to see that the many conditions governing the use of the sales check should not be regarded as annoying red tape, but as an important means of protection to all who are in any way connected with the sales. Not only are the many different forms of the sales check carefully taught, but much time is given to the details of legible writing, distinct figures, proper spacing, to the doing of the work in good form. One appointment each week is given to this study which is undertaken in small store groups in charge of members of the teachers' class. All checks made out by the pupils are filed, and at the end of the term each girl is marked on neatness, accuracy, speed, legibility, and also on improvement shown since the beginning of the course.
4. The method of conducting demonstration sales originated with this school of salesmanship. Exhibition sales have long been used as object lessons, but in such demonstrations, the customer and saleswoman ordinarily plan beforehand what shall be said and done, and the sale is therefore no test of the saleswoman's ability to meet a situation. It is, rather, a dramatic performance. The demonstration sales of the Boston School of Salesmanship are as nearly as possible reproductions of actual selling conditions; the saleswoman sells real merchandise to realistic customers, she is held strictly to the rules and system of her store, and she is as unaware of the type of sale she is to make as she is when customers approach her in her own department.
These exercises are held once a week. A large table in the front of the room serves as counter. The merchandise is a selection of representative articles from the department in which the girl works, for the buyers take a great deal of interest in the sales and are very willing to lend merchandise which will make an attractive display. The saleswoman is responsible for the conduct of the entire sale, from the arrangement of the stock to making out the sales check. A member of the class from the same store as the saleswoman acts as floor manager, signing such slips as would require this official signature in an actual transaction.
While the sale is going on, the other members of the class listen attentively and take notes on the "strong" and the "weak” points. These criticisms, with additional points brought forward by the teacher, are the basis of the discussion which, always following the sale, is its most valuable feature. Everyone is expected to contribute something to the discussion. The customer is sometimes asked how certain procedure affected her, and what influenced her for or against the purchase. The buyer of the department represented is invited to attend, and his presence always stimulates thoughtful effort on the part of all the class. An excellent opportunity is here afforded for educating the buyer, if he stands in need of enlightenment, or for strengthening his interest and support if he is already friendly toward the work.
In the discussion it is customary to hold the class to a simple outline which presents in logical order the chief points to be considered in judging the technique of any sale. This is not the invariable practice, however, for the pupils sometimes become so aroused over a point of paramount interest that this must be satisfactorily settled before other topics are considered. Such a case might be that of a variation from a well-known rule; of misrepresentation, intentional or otherwise; of treatment of a difficult situation presented, for instance, by a shoplifter, or a deaf person, or a customer who offers a tip. As the sales are carried on during the course, they become increasingly complex, and the subtlety of the points brought out for discussion in the later exercises is a revelation of the pupils' mental development.
The pupils who sell are chosen with care, in order to give those who most need it the opportunity of receiving criticism, and at the same time to select those whose salesmanship is of such a type as to offer the rest of the class an object lesson, a warning, or an inspiration, as the case may be. The customer must, also, be selected with discrimination both as to the type which she represents and as to her ability to bring about a significant sale. She should, in general, be neither an exceptionally difficult customer nor an exceptionally easy one, unless the object of the sale is the handling of one of these extremes, but her behavior should be that of an average type under certain conditions.
The demonstration sales seem to be more concretely helpful than any other part of the salesmanship course. Faults in selling of which a girl has been quite unconscious may here stand out conspicuously and the criticism of her classmates is usually felt to be just. A teacher might be considered theoretical and an outsider prejudiced, but those whose experience has been the same as her own are considered qualified to judge the success of a sale. If a girl resents unfavorable comment (a rare occurrence), her attempts to justify herself
usually show her that she is in the wrong, and the sale thus helps her to judge her own work.
The class, as a whole, responds to a sale with great interest. The same points brought out in a lecture would be far less effective, for the sale, demonstrating vividly the method of approach, the saleswoman's manner, the handling of merchandise and numerous other details of technique, is more potent than any amount of lecturing could be. Another advantage of the demonstration sale is its power to hold attention and induce deep thought. The pupils improve noticeably in ability to think constructively and to reason a matter through to its conclusion. They also are made much more observant of genuine sales, those which they and their fellow-workers make and those in which they figure as customers. Their new sensitiveness to fine points in salesmanship, to details which had not interested them before, is often a surprise and delight to them.
As a means of developing a broad and sympathetic attitude toward the public, the sale is invaluable, for many usual and unusual types of customers are represented and the pupils see the customer's point of view more clearly than is usually possible in the store.
In engendering the right spirit toward the giving and taking of criticism, this exercise has also a certain moral value.
A detailed account of a demonstration sale will be found in Chapter V, and brief lists in the Appendix (pp. 73, 74) will suggest types of customers and principles of salesmanship which may be brought out in these exercises.
The course in salesmanship is supplemented at frequent intervals by informal talks from business men representing various divisions of the activities of a department store. An effort is made to have each cooperating store thus represented at least once during the 12 weeks' term. The following series is typical: Lecture I, by president of the firm, “The Value of Training." Lecture II, by head of the credit department, “The Effect, upon the Business, of
Carelessly Written Sales Checks. Lecture III, by a floor manager, “Qualities of a Successful Saleswoman.' Lecture IV, by a buyer, “The Romance of Merchandise.” Lecture V, by an advertising manager, “The Relation of Sales People to the Advertis
ing Department.” Lecture VI, by a superintendent, "Opportunities for Trained Workers.”
These talks are not only a helpful means of strengthening the connection between store and school, but sometimes accomplish also the greater end of broadening the outlook of the speaker and bringing about a much-needed change in attitude. A classic case in point is one which occurred early in the history of the school. A pupil reported that her buyer had ordered her to describe as “pure linen" 5-cent handkerchiefs which she knew to be cotton. She was very much disturbed about it, but feared she would lose her position if she
attempted to argue the point. The buyer in question was invited to visit the school on a day when another buyer, known to be opposed to misrepresentation, was to speak to the class. When, at the close of the lecture, there was opportunity for questions, the matter of misrepresentation was brought up. The speaker denounced it as contrary to business policy as well as ethical action. The visiting buyer must have been convinced, for the girl was never again asked to lie about her merchandise.
At the end of the term the pupils are sometimes asked to answer in writing the question, What is the use of your studying salesmanship? A few of the answers may be of interest.
The study of salesmanship has helped me in many ways. I find I can talk more, study customers better, and use suggestion. Before I went to school I thought all one had to do to be a saleswoman was to be courteous.
Says another girl:
I think I am more efficient than I was three months ago, in that where I formerly tried to have a good book because the other girls did and also to earn as much commission as possible, now I think of the customers and service to them. I try to study their interests as well as my own.
Three months ago I knew nothing about the way to handle a customer, nothing of what a waste of time means, or the impression a customer gets of a sales person who does not know her stock. But now I know how much it all means. I know what selling is and realize that to sell you must be efficient, not just stand without talking up your merchandise.
THE COURSE OF STUDY (continued).
TEXTILES, COLOR AND DESIGN, MERCHANDISE.
In most of the departments of a large store, cloth of some kind enters more or less into the composition of the merchandise offered for sale, while in many departments, as those of ready-to-wear garments, yard goods, ribbons, and laces, the articles sold belong entirely in the textile class. Those fortunate persons who have gained a certain knowledge of textiles through early instruction in practical affairs probably do not realize that the general public is surprisingly ignorant in regard to this important subject, and that much money is spent annually by customers who, in making their purchases, are wholly dependent upon the judgment and recommendation of the sales people. A course in textiles is, therefore, deemed essential for all of the pupils in the school of salesmanship. A few of the girls may not be working in textile departments at the time that they enter the school, but they will almost surely need the information given in this course, if they remain in store work, and the personal gain is great for them, as for all.
As an introduction to the subject, the pupils examine a piece of cloth, discover that it is made of interlacing threads, which, in turn, are composed of individual fibers. The classification of fibers as animal or vegetable is then discussed, much latent knowledge being drawn out from the class. This first lesson usually includes an informal discussion of the importance of the subject; the pupils report some of the questions which customers ask them about the materials, and state their difficulties in getting and giving information. One lesson each is devoted to the processes of spinning and weaving, to give the pupils an insight into the fundamental principles of cloth making. With a bit of raw cotton, her fingers, and a pencil, a pupil may demonstrate for herself the essential processes of spinningdrawing, twisting, and winding. By means of a small wooden loom and barness, of the simplest construction possible, the principles of weaving are taught, each pupil making an inch or two of cloth in the short class period assigned to this part of the work. With this background of knowledge, the four leading textiles are studiedwool and cotton first, because of their greater familiarity and their industrial importance in this country-linen and silk last. In each