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.r THE SATURDAY EVENING POST 85 160 MILES OF WORDS (Continued from Page 28) "Now, Mr. Jones," he would say, "there are no strings attached to this gift whatever. It is absolutely free. But I am sure that you will want to keep this magnificent set of the Encyclopaedia up to date. There is a way to do that, by subscribing for the Britannica Year Book. The Year Book for the next ten years will cost you, at the special price I am able to make to you —" He would then name the sum which was the actual price of the full set of the Encyclopaedia including the Year Book. Oftener than you would think, Mr. Jones would be hooked. As one of the most prominent citizens of his community, he had no desire to prove himself stingy. He would sign the contract. If he didn't, of course, the salesman merely left and never went back. Needless to say, in that case Mr. Jones never received his "free set" either. The salesman would use the same technique on fifty or a hundred prospects in the same community. Powell was appalled to discover that this traditional sharp practice was being used to sell the book, and he instituted a cleanout of the sales organization. He called in Louis C. Schoenewald as sales manager. Schoenewald at the time was general retail sales manager of the New York office. Mr. Schoenewald, before he begins to sell you on a proposition, has the melancholy look of a great tragedian in the fifth act. He appears disinterested and disapproving. All this is a God-given smoke screen for a born salesman. Salesmanship, Schoenewald says, is a great art, and, as he practices it, it is. For twenty years he was with the Aeolian American Corporation in New York, in charge of retail sales. In the 1930's he faced the fact, he says, that the piano business had slipped badly and that it showed no prospect of ever returning to the volume of sales it once had. It was not the radio, as you might suppose, which put the piano business on the skids, but the automobile, in Lou Schoenewald's book. A practical cynic, Mr. Schoenewald did not and does not believe that the great majority of American piano buyers bought pianos because of a love of music which would not be denied. They bought them, he says, to keep up with or forge ahead of the Joneses. A piano in the living room was a tangible, highly visible and impressive sign of prosperity. If somebody could and did play it, of course, that was so much velvet. Came the automobile and the dawn of a new era, but the melancholy twilight of the piano. In order to impress anyone with your piano, you had to get them into your living room. Since you couldn't go out into the streets and drag in perfect strangers with an invitation to come in and look at the piano, this confined your list of potential impressees to friends, neighbors, visiting cousins, the laundryman and house-to-house canvassers, the last a group you'd just as soon not impress. With a new automobile, the possibilities were limitless. Between rides you could leave it sitting in front of the house for the neighbors to envy. With the advent of the automobile, pianos were bought only by people who actually wanted them, and sales fell sharply. When this became clear to Schoenewald, he began to look for a new job. He conducted a four-month survey before attempting to make any connection. "I took a classified telephone directory," he says, "and went through it. '1 For each possible classification I came to, I asked myself two questions: 'What have I got that can be used in that business?' and ' What has it got for me? ' " Advertising, he decided, was a good bet, and he wrote letters to twelve ad- vertising agencies. He interviewed George Eager, then with Batten, Barton, Durstine & Osborn, who told him of reorganization plans of the Britannica and suggested that he look into that. Schoenewald then made a survey of the Britannica's business and field, and completely sold himself on it. "It looked so favorable even then (1933) that I determined that was what I wanted to go into," he said. " I didn't regard the Britannica then, and I haven't regarded it since, as books, but as an educational tool which people seeking to get ahead need." Schoenewald found five salesmen in New York when he went to head that office. He built up the New York sales force, advertising for salesmen and training them. In 1939, when Schoenewald was made general sales manager, he applied on a national scale, in the twentyfour sales offices, the methods he had successfully used in New York. Salesmen were bonded and "shopped" to insure the company against the use of shyster methods of selling. Lou Schoenewald has developed a formula which salesmen are trained to use in selling the Britannica. "We know that when it is followed, a given number of calls on prospects will produce a given number of sales," he says. "The Britannica is sold with shoe leather. It doesn't matter in what section of the country you may be selling. People in any part of the country buy a product for the same reasons, whether it is a vacuum cleaner or the Britannica. The technique of selling is the same. In the South we talk a little slower and we visit a little longer. But we say the same things." There is no cold-turkey canvassing. Appointments are made by telephone, either in the prospect's office or in his home. If it is a home appointment, the salesman makes it clear to Mrs. Prospect that he wants to see her when Mr. Prospect is at home, so that he may talk to both of them together. This reassures her and is part of a careful build-up designed to convince the Prospects that they are not going to be high-pressured. They will be, of course, but so skillfully they will never know it. Most of the Britannica's buyers are in the $3500-or-less income group. Californians buy more sets than residents of any other state. When Information, Please began giving out sets of the Britannica to those who submitted questions the experts failed to answer, the number of questions submitted to the program jumped from 6000 to 21,000 weekly. Salesmen occasionally have difficulty selling a set because the prospective customer is convinced that he will soon win a set from Information, Please. To such customers the Britannica promises a full refund if the customer wins a set of the Encyclopaedia from Information, Please within ninety days. It has had to pay only twice. Though the Britannica's branch sales offices have been reduced from thirtyfive to twenty-four since the war started, sales have mounted because of increased public interest in reference works which will help them to understand what is going on. The 700 salesmen sell an average of better than one set a week each. After the war it is planned to double the number of branch offices in this country and to reopen offices in England and other foreign countries which were closed by hostilities. Last December the Britannica purchased the ERPI Classroom Films from Electric Research Products, Inc., which will be expanded after the war for the selling or renting of films to schools or county school organizations. Other projects are being considered for after the war, but have not taken definite shape. Schoenewald has four cardinal points in his sales program: continuous recruiting of salesmen through sharply worded newspaper advertisements—for there is a large turnover in direct selling—selective hiring; strong field training; and a daily program for each salesman, directing him where to go, what to do and how to do it. He has prepared a sales-manager's manual which is the envy and despair of all sales organizations which have seen it. The manual, furnished to all branch managers, has the answer to every question of policy which can arise, and is cross-indexed. This saves days of querying the home office. In the past, an edition of the Britannica lived from twenty years to a quarter of a century. The books were printed over and over again without revision until a new numbered edition appeared. It meant no editorial department during the years the old edition was selling, no sales department during the three to fifteen years it required to make a new edition. It would seem obvious that this was uneconomical, yet the thought had occurred to no one until Powell became president of the Britannica and devised * * * * * * * * * * Getting His Bearings Old Capt. Roger Sherman was adept at determining the position of his ship by examining the dirt drawn from the ocean's floor in the cup of the sounding lead. But one day at sea, before soundings were taken, the crew sneaked into the cup some shore garden loam which had been brought aboard for the purpose. When the lead had been drawn into the ship and the captain, according to his custom, had taste4 the accumulation in the cup, the mate asked with a twinkle, "And where are we now, cap'n?" "By heaven," said the captain, with a brighter twinkle, "Nantucket is sunk, mates, and here we are, right over old Mom Hackett's garden!" —ONE THOUSAND NEW ILLUSTRATIONS, Gresham Press, London, 1890. * * * * * * * * * * the plan of continuous revision with abandonment of the numbered editions. Powell asked the editors if it would be possible to schedule revisions so that all editorial matter in the Britannica subject to revision could be brought up to date at least once every ten years. The editors knew from experience that approximately 75 per cent of the material in the Britannica is more or less fixed, that it remains true from year to year. The other 25 per cent invited revision, some of it infrequently, some more often. When costs were worked out, it was found that the Encyclopedia could be printed every eight months with revision at each printing of at least 10 per cent of the revisable material. After consultation with specialists in various fields, a schedule was worked out for a ten-year period, so that each classification would be scrutinized and, if necestenry, revised at least twice in that period. From 1933 to 1939 was a period of experimentation to learn whether Mr. Powell's proposed policy of continuous revision was the sound one which he hoped it would be and which, in fact, it proved to be. During that period also were launched the Britannica Junior — 1934—a fascinating encyclopedia for children, and the Britannica Year Book — 1938. The Five-Year Omnibus was started three years ago, as was the Atlas. The first step in carrying out the revision plan obviously was to get a clear picture of what was in the book. To do this, the editors had the 41,000 articles in the Britannica classified in a dualcard index system. Each article is represented by two cards, one filed in the alphabetical listing and one under a general subject classification, of which there are thirty. The first classifiers had to learn their job from doing it, and in the learning process the results were not infrequently amusing. Green little girls classified Virginia Reel under biography, Defense Mechanism under military, Gallstones under geology, Incest under business and industry, and Pope Innocent under law. There were worse bugs than this in the new continuous-revision system, but bug by bug they were and are still being strained out. In two years the Britannica was financially breaking even. The third year it began to make money, and has been a paying business ever since. There are some 35,000,000 words in the twenty-four volumes of the Britannica, type which in a single line would stretch for an incredible 160 miles. Since it is obvious that Walter Yust, editor in chief, and his associates could never, for lack of time, cover this vast amount of literary territory and still read the millions of new words which go into the Britannica and its other publications every year, a plan was devised to get the book read by competent men. To this end, thirty fellowships, paying $1000 to $2000, have been established at the University of Chicago, which two years ago was presented with the now profitable Encyclopaedia Britannica Company by Sears, Roebuck & Co. Recipients of the fellowships are assigned one of the general-subject classifications, and it is their duty to read everything printed in the Britannica under this classification and call the attention of the editors to anything which needs revision. This plan insures constant scrutiny of the entire work. The permanent editorial staff of the Britannica is small. Actually only fortyfour are employed at the home offices in Chicago's Civic Opera Building. Mr. Yust is advised by a staff of about fifty contributing editors. These men are specialists in their fields and are scattered over the world. To them are sent articles which need scrutiny and possible revision, and they advise what man in their general field is best qualified to write on a specific subject in that field. All the articles on this specific subject are then sent to the recommended specialist. He must read the articles, decide whether they need revision or rewriting, or whether they can stand as they are. He is paid five dollars a page for the reading and two cents a word for whatever he rewrites or revises. If he pleases, he, in turn, may farm out some of the writing to other specialists whom he may believe better qualified than he is to deal with certain aspects of the subject. The Britannica has more than 3700 contributors. The Year Book has about 575. In the E. B. itself, 3000 pages are revised with each printing at a cost of eighteen dollars a page. The war has, of course, cut down the number of articles written by foreign contributors. Three weeks after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the captain of one of the American warships sunk by the Japanese mailed Mr. Yust his manuscript for the Britannica's article on Blockade. In his accompanying letter he wrote: " I wrote a little too much and cut it with a pencil. Please excuse this, but, in as much as I lost all my personal possessions, my typewriter and my ship in the — attack, you will understand. It may interest you to know that in one of the files rescued was a water-soaked let-


1945_07_21--009-160 Miles of Words
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