It was Wednesday morning and the phone rang. I checked the caller ID as I picked it up and saw it was an 877 number from Garden City, NY.
“Oh, I bet this is going to be good,” I said to my wife.
Sure enough, it was a stock broker at the other end who had a hot tip for me that was going to make me lots of money. He liked emphasizing 30 percent.
His hot tip was Campbell Soup because there was a rumor that Warren Buffett was going to take it over and the stock price would jump from its current price of $44.
He wanted to set me up with 1,000 shares.
I asked, “You want me to send $44,000 to someone I don’t know and have never met. And you called me. I didn’t call you.”
Of course, then came the reassurances that he was 100 percent legitimate and had been in the business for many years with his clients making lots of money because of his advice.
I told him as far as I was concerned he was speculating, because he does not know the future. It could go either way.
I told him I was staying with what I know – corn and soybeans.
I also told him I was as conservative as a person could be. I do not even use the Chicago Board of Trade, preferring to make my sales to my local elevator and ethanol plant, working on a cash basis.
Then, of course, came more reassurances about how it is the hard working conservative people like me who make this country what it is … blah, blah, blah.
By now he was down to trying to get me to buy 500 shares and that was not going well for him, either.
I was in full absolutely-no-way mode.
I told him, “I am not your man.”
More minutes go by with much cajoling on his part and refusing on mine.
Now he was down to me buying 100 shares with his saying that he wanted me as a customer and now was giving up his commission.
He asked why I couldn’t take a chance with only $4,400.
I told him every dollar was important to me.
Then he told me how he understood because his dad was a plumber and worked … blah, blah, blah.
By now you are wondering why I did not just hang up on this pushy salesman.
I have a couple reasons.
One, was that it was mid-morning and I had started the laundry so I had a little time to kill. I also run the dish washer.
Another reason was many years ago, I spent a few years in the car business and I learned two things.
One was qualifying your customer. Are they ready, willing and able?
The second was, “Always be closing.” It keeps the salesman in charge of the transaction. Offense versus defense, you might say.
This man had his closing part nailed down. He was doing a poor job on the qualifying as I repeated many times. “I am not your man. I am not interested.”
This conversation continued for 20 minutes until he finally got my message of “No,” and we parted company.
I do not like being interrupted by unsolicited phone calls and my pound of flesh from Mr. High Pressure was to waste 20 minutes of his time when he could be selling to real customers.
There is one more reason I was so adamant in not doing business with him.
He liked to tell me how his company had General Electric and Walmart as customers. If you want to impress me, do not use name dropping. It won’t work.
I thought: if you talk to General Electric and Walmart, why are you calling some small potatoes, corn and soybean farmer in Iowa?
It is an odd word usage, but you get my point.
Groucho Marx said he would not belong to any club that would have him as a member.
I would not do business with any high-powered New York stock broker who would want me as a client.
Then later on television there was a gray haired Fonzie trying to talk me into taking money from the value of my house on something called a reverse mortgage.
Nope. That’s not going to happen either.
I am tough. What would you expect from someone in charge of the laundry and the dishes?
Rye is a Farm News staff writer and farmer from Hanlontown. Reach him by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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