"Time To Throw The Rabbit"

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Time To Throw The Rabbit
by Joe Bonura, CSP



I could not think of a better way to start the New Year than by writing about my first sales call. We can learn from every experience, good or bad, if we look for the clues. From experience, I find that I learn more from my failures than I do from my successes. When I fail, it is like getting hit on the side of the head with a two-by-four. The experience wakes me up to what just happened. We learned to walk or ride a bike by falling down, and then getting up again, having learned what not to do.


Do you remember your first sales call? In 1964, I made my first sales call as a media sales representative in New Orleans. My sales training had consisted of my boss introducing me to several existing clients. That was it! After that, he turned me loose and said, 'OK Joe, go for it!'


I drove my black Volkswagen Beetle to a furniture store in New Orleans, and I'll never forget it...it took me 10 minutes to get out of the car! I sat there because I was too frightened to get out! Finally, I gathered my nerve, walked into the store, and stuttered to the receptionist, 'Uh, is, uh, may I, uh, is Mr....' Seeing my inexperience, she took pity on me and responded, 'I will get him.'


The previous evening, I had read a sales book that advised sales people to begin with a compliment. When I noticed a large swordfish on the wall, I figured that would work. A large, gruff-looking man approached me as I introduced myself and applied the prepared compliment, 'H..hi, my name is Joe Bonura. D..did you catch that big fish?'

He did not bite at the lure (my compliment), and he rudely replied, 'And what are you selling?'

I replied meekly, 'advertising.'

He bellowed, 'Well, I do not want any!'

'OK, here is my card. Thank you very much.' I turned around, ran out of the store, and mentally quit my new sales career. There was no way that I was going to do this for a living, and subject myself to abuse.


It was February in New Orleans, with the Easter season approaching, and I was lugging around a six-foot Easter rabbit in my Volkswagen passenger seat. If the customer purchased a thirteen-week schedule, the rabbit went with the package. I was very nervous, and I had forgotten to use the rabbit on the first call. I knew I could not return with the rabbit; that would concede to failure and defeat. So I decided to try one more time. I went where any new sales person would go - familiar territory! I went to my local Dorignac's Supermarket, where my wife and I shopped every week.


I grabbed the six-foot Easter rabbit and entered the store, but the store checkers, who looked so nice last week when I was the customer, looked so intimidating this week.

When I asked for Mr. Dorignac, one of the checkers pointed to the little deli/restaurant where Mr. Dorignac was drinking coffee and observing the employees as they worked. When I nervously turned in his direction, I tripped, and the giant Easter rabbit flew into the air, crashed into a line of metal garbage cans, creating a domino effect, knocking over can after can.

I was down on one knee, glanced up, and saw Mr. Dorignac sporting a huge grin. As I greeted him, he laughed and said, 'Son, that is the best attention-getting technique in selling I have ever seen.'


Well, I left the store with a contract for a 13-week schedule, and Mr. Dorignac had a successful promotion along with a huge, six-foot Easter rabbit, and I decided to give my sales career another chance. The lessons that I learned that day are used in my sales seminars, and I call that process of being unique - Throwing the Rabbit.


It is not necessary to carry a giant Easter rabbit and trip over yourself to get a signed contract; however, if you want to stand out from your competition, you must be unique. There are many ways to 'Throw the Rabbit.'

Ask yourself these questions:

When I make a sales call, what sets me apart from the competition?

Why should the prospect stop doing what they are doing and pay attention to me?



I was making calls in Tennessee with a gentleman named David Crockett. I observed how he formally introduced himself on each call as he lead with his business card, 'Hi, my name is David Crockett with ABC Company and I would like to visit with the person responsible for transportation.' As that was not a very exciting door opener, I suggested that he keep his business card in his pocket, and on the next call, introduce himself in the following way: 'Hi, my name is Davy Crockett, I'm here to see if we can kill some of the bears that are eating into your profits.' The receptionist laughed, picked up the phone and said, 'You must come out here and meet Davy Crockett.

David had a built-in rabbit that he was not using. I suggested that he have some small coonskin cap key chains made with his company name and contact information.

Find the rabbit in your offer, and see how you can use it to stand out in a world of look-alikes.

LISTEN to how to throw the rabbit


© 2004 Joe Bonura & Associates, Inc.

To see Joe and hear one of his favorite selling tips, follow this link to a video he created to share with folks who are interested in making more sales, or finding a job:



Joe Bonura would be pleased for you to reprint the article text free of charge (non-exclusively), but asks that you include his name and contact information:

Joe Bonura
Joe Bonura & Associates, Inc.
Website: www.bonura.com
407 Landis Lakes Court
Louisville, KY  40245

(502) 553-1746 phone

E-mail: joe@bonura.com

About Joe Bonura

His background is unique. Joe owned and operated a highly successful advertising agency for 18 years. During that time, he found his advertising campaigns were more effective when he educated his clients in the areas of sales and service. He conducted training seminars for his clients as added value. Word spread that Joe was a quality speaker and more and more people asked him to speak. The demand became so high that he sold the agency to three of his associates to start his own speaking and consulting company, Joe Bonura & Associates, Inc.

Joe is past President of the Kentucky Speakers Association and a Certified Speaking Professional (CSP), a prestigious designation earned by only 8% of the 3,600 member National Speakers Association. Joe presently serves on the board of directors of NSA.

He is author of the audio learning systems "Three-Dimensional Selling®" and "Turning Customer Satisfaction Into Customer Excitement®." He is author of the book Throw the Rabbit—The Ultimate Approach to Three-Dimensional Selling.




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