The Fable of Metallion

Once upon a time, there was a salesperson at a gold mining company called Metallion. He got an appointment with a prospective customer. He stood before the prospect, pulled a shiny gold ball bearing out of his pocket, and proudly held it up.

“You can have this today for just three hundred dollars!” he said.

The prospect laughed. “Are you crazy?” she asked, pulling a silver ball bearing from a drawer. “Some one from Aluminum Insight—or was it Mercury Fusion? Possibly Amalgam One?—Anyway, they sold this to me for just fifteen dollars. It’s a lot lighter than yours, and since I’ve already got one, I’m not going to give you any more than twelve dollars.”

The salesman was shocked, but unable to discount to that extent. He took a moment to regain his composure and then asked to borrow the silver ball bearing for two weeks. 

“Sure,” said the prospect, “but keep it contained. For some reason, it tends to stink up your office.”

Two weeks later, the salesman returned with the same silver ball bearing and a DVD.

“I asked one of our engineers to look at this,” he told the prospect, “and here’s what he found.” With tweezers, he was able to peel away the surface of the silver bearing. Suddenly, a foul odor filled the air. 

“You see,” said the salesman, “the silver is just foil. No wonder it’s so light, and no wonder it stinks. There’s nothing inside but a rat turd.”

The prospect’s eyes widened in surprise.

“Now, let me tell you about our products,” the salesman said, and popped the DVD into a player. In twenty minutes, he showed the prospect Metallion’s complex mining operation, their quality control procedures, their independent certifications of ball bearing purity. There were testimonials from customers who had used the ball bearings successfully in a variety of large-scale applications.

“Now,” said the salesman, “Is it true that you’re interested in manufacturing stereo cables?” 

“Why, yes,” said the prospect, “getting into the stereo cable business is one of our strategic goals.”

“Metallion’s gold is ideally suited for top quality stereo cables. By integrating our mining operation with your business, we can help you make those cables.”

 The prospect was impressed. After several hours of discussion and planning, the salesman walked away with a multi-million dollar contract. The shiny gold ball bearing was still in his pocket.

Tags: Business, Humor

Updated at: 10 December 2003 10:12 AM

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