Tag Archives: unlucky gambler

Secrets of a Pole Barn Salesman

Secrets of a Pole Barn Salesperson

Back in 1980 I was a pole barn (post frame) building industry newbie. So new, I considered myself to be rather clueless.

Then I was working for a now long defunct company, Mac Truss in McMinnville, Oregon. I’d pick the brains of anyone who was willing to listen to my pole barn questions and give me answers. One of my clients was a builder (I use this term loosely as he didn’t build anything himself) named Hal Mueller. Once upon a time Hal had apparently been fairly reputable, however by then, rumor had it, he had developed an affinity to dark colored bottles and had pretty much lost everything he had including his family. By 1980, his business model was to make $500 on every building he could sell – and with his low margins he did manage to sell quite a few buildings.

One day Hal called me to let me know a friend of his from my home town of Spokane was coming to Portland for a visit. His friend was a highly successful pole barn salesman (according to Hal, the “world’s greatest”) and Hal wanted to know if I was interested in meeting them for lunch.

I looked upon this as an opportunity of a lifetime!

Hal’s friend was selling over four million dollars of pole barns a year in a tough economy. Surely this man had some secrets I had to know. I was ready to glean insights and become brilliant!

I could hardly sleep a wink for days prior to this meeting, thinking about a myriad of questions I wanted to ask. Finally, it was lunch day.

After exchanging pleasantries, I quickly found out Hal’s friend’s success secrets.

Hal’s friend worked for a man who generously sent him to Las Vegas for a high rolling gambling junket every three months. First class air, lots of booze, nicest hotel suites, probably even some female companionship.

Now boss man was brilliant – his salesman got this trip for free (unbeknownst to his salesman) because his salesman was an unlucky gambler and would lose tens of thousands of dollars over a long weekend. Losing enough so he would come back after a trip flat broke and desperate to earn money! Of course Hal’s friend thought his boss was World’s Best who would give him such wonderful trips!

As for my questions about pole barns and how to sell them….I found out Hal’s friend actually had very little idea what he was selling and knew even less than I did!