A salesperson’s reputation can be a vital component in making a sale, particularly if you are in an industry where everyone knows each other and salespeople, if they move at all, tend to move within the same industry. So, it pays to behave professionally not only during working hours but also out-with. The reputation makers will use material from both your work and non-work hours.
This lesson was underlined some years at The London International Book Fair. Some people use trade fairs as an opportunity to make and/or consolidate international contacts, some use it to socialise with customers and some use it to have an all expenses paid holiday. Now, there’s the 'Work hard play hard' school of thought. It may or may not have value. But no matter how hard you work or play, you have to ensure no lasting damage is done during either.
Graham Tucker was a 'Work hard play harder' exponent. I’d never heard his name before this particular Book Fair. But I, and many, many others, sure had heard it afterwards, and actually found it hard to forget. He was an American publishing executive, flamboyant, loud and had a capacity to drink unrivalled in the trade, and that was saying something.
One night in Soho, a group of publishers were causing a nuisance in some club. It may have been Ronnie Scotts, but the legend has spun so many times that the original venue has been changed with each retelling. Important to note – the venue is forgotten, but not the name, Graham Tucker. Legend has a cruel way of retaining its essential essence regardless of how and where it is told.
This group of publishing types were asked to leave. They were quite civilised folks and realised they’d out-stayed their welcome. Not wishing to tarnish their reputations any more they decided it was better to cut their losses and leave. And they did. All but one of them. The others had decided that this lone wolf was beyond reasoning with and abandoned him to his fate. No one knew who he was. But they knew he was drunk, offensive and a poor match for the bouncers.
They were in the act of throwing him out when he threw up on them. Those unlucky enough to be nearby jumped out the way and yelped. Graham Tucker collapsed in a heap. The bouncers were not consumed with concern. They picked him up by the collar and dragged him through the place towards the door when Graham Tucker must have had a vision that he was Mike Tyson and somehow broke free and landed a punch near one of the bouncers. Fortunately it was slow motion punch giving all those within reach time not only to step out of harm’s way but also to laugh out loud. The force of his own swing threw Graham Tucker to the floor once more, where he threw up again. Quite a lot of people were standing up and moving quietly away from the vicinity of vomit. The band played on.
Once again the bouncers picked him up and dragged him more by the hair than by the collar this time, causing Graham Tucker to snarl like a wild dog, and threw him through the door which, fortunately for Graham Tucker, someone had opened.
There was a taxi queue nearby and Graham Tucker had, according to the more colourful retellings, crawled on all fours along the rainy pavements howling at the moon. Whether this happened or not is unimportant. The fact that this was now in the legend is as it demonstrates the power of reputation. There’s no doubt, however, about what happened next.
Those in the taxi queue thought Graham Tucker had been mugged and ran to his aid, only to be met by Graham Tucker’s by now even more unconvincing Mike Tyson incarnation. As insults were exchanged by those standing above him and by Graham Tucker (by now lying on his back) one of the would-be Good Samaritans, a girl, shouted “OMG! He’s p*****g his pants!” Which he in fact, was. For good measure, he managed one more projectile vomit, then lay exhausted in the rain on his back in front of a taxi queue with his light coloured trousers darkening at the crotch as the material soaked as much of Graham Tucker’s urine as it could, the rain taking care of the rest.
As they were getting in their cab, one of the on lookers saw the police arrive. We don’t know what happened next.
So, how do we know Graham Tucker’s name with such certainty? The silly fellow had not bothered to take off his London Book Fair pass, which still hung around his neck as he lay prostrate in the rain, emblazoned with the legend, Graham Tucker.
By Bob Smith who has worked in sales for more than 30 years, works as an experienced recruiter, trainer & motivator and is also a published author of both children’s and adult titles.