Late Spring is the best part of the baseball season. Most everyone’s favorite teams are still in the race, often due to the performance of veteran players, but sometimes due to fresh-faced rookies.
Back in the 1963 season, the Cincinnati Reds featured a new addition to their club. Pete Rose quickly got the nickname “Charlie Hustle” because of his ability to get from home plate to first base, 90 feet, in 4.3 seconds. Back then, a lot of players could do that, but Pete would run that fast… on a WALK!
It takes more than talent and drive to make it to the BIGS, it also takes a lot of luck; being with the right team, no injuries, and good coaching.
WHAT IF PETE ROSE had none of the above? Perhaps an early injury, more interest in playing guitar than second base, or bad coaching? Imagine that instead of wasting 20 plus years playing kids’ games, he pursued the noble career of selling furniture and mattresses! You can bet that drive, talent, keen sense, agility, and HUSTLE would still be part of his DNA.
You could be sure that if your store opened at 9 am, Pete would arrive at 8 am. He would get his equipment in order (aka floor samples) including power beds and recliners, know his team’s line-up, and check in with his manager for any scouting reports. He would be thoroughly ready for ‘today’s’ game and would stretch out while on deck. When that first shopper arrived, Pete would run the 90 feet from the desk in 4.3 seconds to greet his opportunity!
You probably already know that Pete Rose holds the all-time record for hits. He amassed 4,256 of them in his 23 year career. When interviewed, Rose said part of his success was to focus on the moment. He imagined that each time he came to the plate; it would be his last time EVER! And he didn’t want to strike out or pop out. Furniture Salesperson Pete would frame sales presentations the same way. He would treat every UP as his last opportunity of the day, and would perish the thought of it ending as a be-back. In baseball, Pete was known as a Singles Hitter, so while he would swing for the fences, his main goal was to get on base. Furniture Salesperson Pete would show every shopper the newest leather sectionals, bedrooms with armoires, and nine piece dining rooms with china cabinets, but would also sell recliners, lamps, bookcases and even discontinued accessory items. BTW- baseball player Pete also hit a total of 1,041 Home Runs, Doubles, and Triples! Furniture Salesperson Pete would sell a lot of $99 twin mattress sets, $599 Sofa/Loves, and add in a few barstools. But he’d sell his share of high end merchandise too!
Baseball Pete ended his career with an on base percentage of close to 40%. That means that he was successful getting on base 15% more than the average player. Baseball Pete knew that he always got three swings at bat. If the first pitch wasn’t right, he still had two more chances. Furniture Salesperson Pete would also take three swings, which is; asking for the sale three times. He would close 40% of everyone who walked through the door; no exceptions. Because in baseball, every at bat is counted. Chances are that his closing rate would also be 10-15% more than the REAL average at most furniture stores.
Successful ballplayers think about first place finishes. Furniture Salesperson Pete would think about being first in the store, first to greet, first to sell, and first to follow-up and assess strengths and weaknesses. Baseball Pete played in 17 All-Star Games; and in a demonstration of adaptability, played five different positions in those games! Furniture Salesperson Pete would answer the call to serve at any of your locations, anytime. He would quickly adapt to the new environment and be an All-Star performer in a short period of time.
Baseball Pete Rose was a Home-Town Cincinnati Kid. He graduated High School in Cincy and played his first 11 seasons for the Reds. In the early days of free agency, Pete moved on to play for the Philadelphia Phillies. He left for more money and a chance to play for a WINNER. Furniture Salesperson Pete would probably be very happy playing for your team. But if there came a day that he felt under-appreciated, under-paid, and no longer playing for a winner, chances are that he would move on to a competitor’s team.
At the age of 43 The Phillies told Baseball Pete that he was washed up, too old for the game. He signed on with the now defunct Montreal Expos and was soon traded back to the Reds who made him their player manager. He played part-time and amassed another 200 hits to wrap up his career. “Washed-Up” Pete had three more successful years including getting the all-time record for hits.
A Furniture Salesperson Pete might come to work at your store at ANY age, and be of any gender. Your next Furniture Salesperson Pete may be 18 years old and a year out of school, or over 65 and a year from retirement. HE may be a SHE, and may not dress, look, or speak like you. But Furniture Salesperson Pete will OUT-HUSTLE the rest of the players on your team and the team down the street. And, will be coachable, flexible, driven, and enthusiastic. Pete will always try to sell your best products, but will take any sale over a be-back. If you are lucky enough to find someone like Pete, treat them right, pay them fairly, and you’ll enjoy their long career.
Gordon Hecht is Senior Manager-In Store Concepts for Serta Simmons Bedding Company, introducing and expanding bedding business in conventional and non-traditional venues. He started his 30+ years experience in the Home Furnishings industry in Las Vegas, NV as a delivery helper and driver and later served in sales, retail management and consulting roles.
Read other articles by Gordon Hecht