Dearth of a Salesman

Just seen programme two in Steve Coogan’s 1995 series Coogan’s Run.  It’s the one written by the awesome Father Ted creators about Gareth Cheeseman.  It was premonitorily called Dearth of a Salesman.  He’s a truly awful, egotistical self-centred salesman selling the “Lancelot 2000 soundcard”.  It’s comedy that anyone later into The Office would understand; big-time cringe-worthy in parts where you rush to get behind the sofa.  Here are just some of the things Cheeseman does during his 3-day stint at a Hotel conference sales event, that if you find yourself doing too, then you know you must have a long, hard word with yourself and change, sharpish:

  1. Don’t drive a blue Ford Probe, and especially not with Robert Palmer playing loudly (although, rather concerningly, I’ve got his greatest hits on cd and think it’s a decent album)
  2. When you’re preparing for a meeting, don’t spend 5 minutes in front of the mirror shouting “you’re the best, you’re number one, you’re a tiger, rrrrrrroooooaaaarrrr!” (although again, given its place, it can have merit surely?)
  3. When giving a presentation with essentially drab technical information, do not slip in a slide of a scantily-clad beach babe
  4. Don’t take Thomas Edison’s “lightbulb moment” as an inspirational example, thinking “where’s there’s darkness, there’s a need for light” and link it to Technology in general (“What is technology? Not an easy question”)
  5. Avoid asking a specific member of the audience a question if you don’t know how they’ll answer it, so that discussions about having kids aren’t begun with a gay chap
  6. Stop yourself from repeatedly asking your boss if there’s a spare place for the quarterly “Diamond Club Dinner”, the one for high performers, when you’re not one of them
  7. Make sure when the prospect is ready to sign, even if as happened to Cheeseman it takes you by surprise, you have firstly a pen, and secondly, one that works
  8. When you talk a prospect through the paperwork, with their pen hovering over it, don’t belittle the process by saying things like “and finally the big fella”, or pretending to be the voice of the contract and saying with a squeaky put-on voice, “please sign me, please sign me”

And in between all that, Cheeseman: got robbed by a “lady of the night” who painted a clown’s face on him; was distracted whilst delivering a pitiful presentation by a mother breast-feeding; got caught by the maid doing something best kept to private; persuaded two men to commit suicide (one of which was the formerly teetotal son of his big prospect) who never wanted to be a salesman anyway; and got punched in the nose by the woman who’s signature he finally required and of course, failed to collect.

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