For sales professionals weary of fads, one-size-fits-all methods or missives from self-styled gurus, Tom Sant's book looks at four broad categories and the pioneers who championed each approach. All of the gurus will assert to you that their method is the right way, of course, the only way to sell. But, as Sant points out, they are all selling you something. It's up to you to buy the method that fits. Sant looks at John Henry Patterson, who turned national Cash Register into one of the most important companies of its day; Dale Carnegie, known as the "Apostle of Influence" with his ground-breaking tome How to Win Friends and Influence People; Elmer Wheeler, who tested thousands of sentences on millions of consumers in his Wheeler Word Laboratories; and Joe Girard, a rags-to-riches success story who made his name in the car sales business. In doing so, Sant provides a broad and deep understanding of the entire selling field.
Sales as a Process
Patterson saw sales as a process. Faced with financial ruin from his investment in the first cash register - a high-tech machine that was met with persistent scoffs - Patterson's ruthless drive to succeed spawned innovation in many areas: ideas on factory management, employee relations, hiring practices, health and welfare management and more. But his contribution in sales include this remarkable list of firsts:
- Formal sales training
- A detailed sales manual
- Direct-mail advertising in support of targeted sales campaigns
- Annual and quarterly sales quotas
- Guaranteed territories
- The 100 Point Club - special recognition for the top achievers
- Special celebrations ("President's Club") for top producers
- Sales campaigns drawn up annually to give everyone a fresh start
Carnegie on Rapport
At the heart of Carnegie's philosophy is a simple idea: Influence is linked to trust. Gaining influence means building trust, and trust is fundamentally a relationship. Carnegie correctly surmised that unless you get the other person to like you, you're not going to get very far in your efforts to persuade him or her. It's the emotional connection between people that will get you started on the road to trust. The second most important element is displaying interest in the other person - in other words, minimizing the appearance of self-interest. Research studies into buyer/seller relationships have indicated that these are exactly the variables that are most likely to produce a successful relationship.
Sant's quick takes from Carnegie include the following tips:
- Be your professional self. Don't try to act like somebody other than who you are.
- Dress simply and professionally. Keep the focus on the customer and away from your wardrobe.
- Be forthright.
- Take a second to scan his or her office. Do you see signs of a similar interest?
In 1937, after some research and experimentation, Wheeler published Tested Sentences That Sell, his first major book. In it, he presented five "Wheelerpoints," gave his readers examples of how they work, and even speculated about why they work. For example, Wheelerpoint 1 advises: Don't sell the steak, sell the sizzle! People want to know, what's in it for me? Another Wheelerpoint states: Don't ask if - ask which! He explained, "We mean you should always frame your words (especially at the close) so that you give the prospect a choice between something and SOMETHING, never between something and NOTHING." Over the next 20 years, Tested Sentences That Sell outsold all other books on selling ever written. Wheeler became one of the best-known speakers in the country, delivering thousands of speeches to businesses, associations and conferences.
Joe Girard's Law of 250
Girard's system for generating leads and gaining referrals still forms the basis of today's slightly more high-tech permission marketing, relationship marketing and closed-loop marketing. His principle is this: Most people have about 250 other people in their lives who are important enough to invite to a wedding or to a funeral. In other words, each person with whom I do business represents 250 other people. If I do a great job, 250 more people are likely to get a recommendation to buy from me. If I do a lousy job, I have just made 250 enemies. Consistently doing a good job - building strong relationships, treating people fairly, and giving them what they want - will make selling much easier in the long run. What Girard realized was that it made more sense to "prime the pump" by generating awareness and interest among prospects well before they ever needed a car.
Which sales methodology is the best? The answer depends on you, Sant says, on your typical customers, on what you are selling, and on the competitive environment in which you are working. There are characteristics outlined in his book for which you should look in your current methods. If you find that your sales methodology is lacking in one, he provides the steps to take to correct the deficiency. Copyright © 2006 Soundview Executive Book Summaries