Then there was the evening when the laugh was on me. This was back in the old days when Brighton Lions ran the annual carnival (before we were elbowed out by Gay Pride). We would have several thousand programmes printed at no cost to us - there are still companies that will provide this service by selling the advertising space in the programme - and for anything up to six weeks before carnival day we would have teams out Monday to Friday evenings selling the damn things at 50p a pop. It was hard work, especially for those of us - the majority - who had been at work all day, but we compensated by meeting at 6.30pm in a pub, selling from 7.00 till 9.00, and ending up back where we started - in a pub!
One particular evening I was in a team of 4 or 5 as we worked our way down Elm Drive. Somehow I was managing to sell programmes while the rest of the team were having no luck at all. "What's the trick?" they asked me. "How come you're managing to sell programmes while we are all getting doors shut in our faces?"
I told them there was a knack to selling on the doorstep - not that I really knew anything about it but I thought it sounded good.
"Hold out a programme in you left hand, " I told them, "and almost put it into the prospect's hand. They will automatically take it from you and many people will be too embarrassed/ashamed or whatever to seem mean enough to try giving it back to you. Then you ask them if they will support Brighton Lions Club by buying a programme. While you ask them, keep nodding your head slightly. This should induce them to nodding as well, signifying a yes answer to your question. Now they have the programme in their hand, they are nodding yes, they will buy a copy. It's really just simple psychology."
Then I had a thought. "Hey, just watch and I'll show you."
With that, I walked up the next path and knocked on the door. (I never bothered to ring the door bell; too many didn't work.) A little old lady answered and I went into my routine. As soon as I had finished, she said, "Thank you, dear," and shut the door in my face - keeping hold of the programme!
You can imagine the laughter as I walked back down the path.