We had listened to the sales promotion manager as he outlined the new sales manual. We had admired the compactness and completeness of the instruction book he had prepared for the men to carry with them. His compendium of facts was a marvel. His cover- age of data was a thick, ample blanket. But as he completed his presentation, he went just a little too far. For, in the heat of his enthusiasm, he said, “With a manual like this, I believe we could pick up almost any kind of men off the street and turn them into passable salesmen.” Whereat the sales manager snorted. “You have eight important sections to that sales manual,” he declared, “but I can name at least a dozen characteristics of good salesmanship which are not even mentioned in your book, but which are as indispensable to success as a basic knowledge of our line?” Whereupon he began to reel them off. To his dozen, three others suggested themselves, making in all, fifteen steps in good salesmanship that are rarely taught in any sales manual. They will not be taught here either, for they cover too much ground and reach too deep into the springs of human motives and actions. But the listing of them may help some sales- man to understand better why he doesn’t sell more goods. Or perhaps they will provide a handy check list for the sales executive who sees his men falling short, even when they are given the best of coaching and are provided with every bit of sales data that can be mustered. The listing here does not pretend to arrange these factors in relation to their importance. Analysis – In the old, simple days the salesman might walk right in and go to it without the need of much ability to analyze a dealer’s problems. Today the salesman who hopes to succeed must first of all be a good business analyst. Brands are multitudinous. Advertising campaigns, too. The dealer can no longer put in a line merely because it is a good one and well advertised. It must fit in with his class of trade, his program for expansion. So if the salesman carries a very high-priced, high quality line, he must, for example, be a business analyst to fit it into a tenement house district. In some cases he can logically do so. In one instance he may discover that there are certain luxury lovers even among the poor, and others who are not as poor as their outward appearance would indicate. Synthesis – Analysis only gets at the facts. The sales analyst must become a synthetic worker. He may say to the tenement house dealer, “You are losing a fairly good volume of trade simply because you cater only to the poorest in the neighborhood. Put some of my goods in the window and catch the landlords who live here and own these tenement houses. And put the goods in because even those who buy the lower-grade goods like to splurge occasionally. And put them in because many of your poorest customers are increasing their incomes from time to time and are ready to move a notch farther up in the quality of the goods they buy.” This is not offered as a model sales talk. It simply brings home in a rough way that synthetic work must follow analysis. Leadership. Says one of the best sales executives I have known, “The effective salesman is always a step ahead of the dealer he calls on. He is leading the way to greater opportunities. He must keep teaching the dealer something in a way that wins the dealer’s respect. Where a salesman falls short of this he has a wrestling match on his hands instead of being a guide who is leading the way up to a mountain top.” Manners – The salesman of even the lowest priced goods usually calls on dealers throughout the whole range of social standing. Good manners are too unobtrusive to ever offend even the push-cart Peddler. With tie cultured dealer, the lack of them may prove fatal. The sales manager for a house manufacturing an automotive specialty says, “Before I employ a salesman I take him out to a meal with me.” Integrity. Of course! But you can’t teach it in a sales manual. Faith. Yes, faintly is a primary need. And the salesman must have faith in many varieties faith in him, faith in his line, faith in his dealers, and faith in his territory. Practically all those forms of faith can be built up. The first faith in one’s self may seem most difficult, but if all the other faiths are built up, it will usually be found that no reason can be found for the non-existence of the first. It simply disappears. Recuperation – A New Yorker who has made an enviable record at selling motor trucks may be found every Friday night at the ringside of Madison Square Garden. He explains. “I enjoy watching good boxing for its own sake, but on top of that, a good fight has the effect of bucking me up for days. It’s a lesson in getting up after you’re knocked over, and carrying on even when things are utterly against you.” Certain it is that “Recuperation” is a most important characteristic in good salesmanship. The candidate must be able to take a lot of “Your price is too high” without get- ting groggy. He must be able to rise at the count of nine in face of that solar-plexus blow, “I buy only from my father-in-law.” The salesman with- out extraordinary recuperative powers is no salesman at all. Interest – That almost goes first, doesn’t it? Interest in one’s goods, interest in one’s customer list, interest in one’s territory. Of course, no one in any line of work gets far without interest, but probably the need is exceptionally great in selling. Activity- Not mere rushing around. Not necessarily most calls per day. Not even, perhaps, a big clean-up in a new territory. Activity, rather, that is steady and sane at building up volume and stability. “When a man brags about his number of calls a day” says one sales executive, “I always begin to worry about the quality and effectiveness of his contacts.” Imagination- Every human being has imagination along his own peculiar lines. Since the salesman deals with dealers in big variety, his imagination must have great variety, too. He must see that Bill Bailey, the dealer, isn’t interested in goods as such, but is keenly interested in giving his children a college education. So Mr. Salesman builds his sales talk in a way that relates his product to Bailey’s goal. Then, Cysimpson, another dealer, looks forward to retiring and becoming a country gentleman, and the sales talk must be built to relate to that goal. Friendliness- You’d hardly think that men could get on sales department payrolls without this characteristic, and yet thousands do. You see them snubbing clerks, insulting telephone operators, and even high hating prospective customers. Focus – This means that no matter how many sales points a salesman may use, he must be able to bring them all together like the many feeble rays that combine to make a powerful searchlight. To put it in another way, his selling story may of necessity be complicated, but he will be able to string together its elements into some semblance of unity and simplicity. Vitality- In “Napoleon,” Emil Ludwig writes, “During the last three years of warfare, he (Napoleon) was put out of action in decisive hours by paroxysms of gastric spasm. His courage and resolution were practically unimpaired; had it not been for these attacks, the history of his decline would have been different.” It is obvious that many a failure to close a new account or hold onto a slipping one may be traced to such a thing as faulty spectacles, unwise eating, or any one of a dozen things that may handicap vitality either steadily or intermittently. So more than one manufacturer today insists upon yearly health examinations of their salesmen. Presence, Something like Elinor Glynn’s famous “It a quality that makes you like a salesman without being able to explain just why. Penetration- In Jack Dempsey’s case, the broadcaster spoke of it as “boring in.” It seems as though the best salesmen never stop “boring in”. They get closer and closer to their customer month after month. The relationship ripens into unity of thought and action like an ideal marriage. But this isn’t a sentinicital essay it’s simply some thoughts about salesmansh
Share This