Matt Duffy, an auto mechanic turned salesman, and two others, Billy Joe Crews and Tony Prentis, join the sales force of Gere Industries, a manufacturer of automotive replacement parts. The three new salesmen soon become allies, and all prove to be highly capable. Matt in particular becomes the rising star that catches the eye of upper management.
Alex Frost, national sales manager and relentless empire builder, is out to stall Matt’s sales career just as it takes off. Matt’s recruitment test results show a high IQ and, on principle, Alex dislikes intelligent salesmen. In this case, he fears that Matt’s ability will benefit Jason Saunders, the regional manager for Southern California—Matt’s immediate boss and Alex’s arch rival.
To thwart Jason, Alex will stop at little to undermine and eliminate Matt. He first tries to subvert Matt’s hiring and even schemes to have him seduced and drugged. When these tactics fail, Alex hatches another plot that gives new meaning to the term traveling salesman. To keep Jason constantly shorthanded, Alex manufactures one assignment after another to take Matt to other territories. Even upper management’s discovery of Alex’s unethical ploys—not to mention almost getting fired—does little to quench his raging ambition.
Matt manages to dodge Alex’s bullets, excelling at his travel assignments and holding his own in Jason’s territory. But the frequent absences from his wife and two children are taking their toll on his marriage, and even a large bonus does not entirely ease the tension. When both Billy Joe and Tony are promoted, Matt’s own career, as well as his family life, hangs in the balance—until, in the nick of time to repair his marriage, he is promoted to regional manager of the Denver territory.
Alex is thrilled. Not only will Jason lose his best salesman, but Matt is now stuck with a poor-paying territory. But as Alex gloats, he does not know that Matt has helped Jason find a replacement salesman—and the new recruit is every bit as capable as Matt himself. Alex’s triumph is destined to be short-lived, while the alliance of peddlers three promises to endure.