Dick Grant didn't coin the term "super salesman," but he certainly epitomized it.
Grant was an early sales giant who helped build General Motors into a colossus.
He's the corporate forefather of super sellers such as Bob Lund at Chevrolet and Cadillac, Bill Holler at Chevy, Jim Roche at Cadillac (he became CEO of GM) and Rocket Jones at Oldsmobile.
And don't overlook Billy Durant, who started it all. Durant sold a lot of Buicks in his day — but his biggest selling job was persuading Cadillac, Oldsmobile, Oakland (now Pontiac) and Rapid Motor Vehicle Co. (today's GMC) and countless suppliers to cast their lots with a new manufacturing giant he called General Motors.
Dick Grant was a Harvard man who decided on a career in sales after graduating in 1901. Rather unusual. Harvard men often joined the family business — law, banking, Wall Street, whatever. For Grant, though, there was no such business.
A few years after graduation, he wound up at National Cash Register Co. in Dayton, Ohio, and within nine years was general sales manager. In 1915, E.A. Deeds and Charles Kettering tapped him for Delco Light, a venture that supplied lighting for farms. Delco Light became part of GM in 1920.
The man was 42 years old, and he had never sold an automobile.
In 1924, GM named him vice president and general sales manager of Chevrolet, and the real Dick Grant emerged.
His sales promotions were legion and legendary. Perhaps the most famous were his steak and beans dinners.
Dealers were urged to sponsor a dinner for their sales staffs each month. Salespeople who made their quotas ate steak; those who didn't dined on beans.