Frank Bettger had once been something of a baseball star, playing for the St. Louis Cardinals. An injury to his arm ended his sporting career, and with no particular skills he wound up cycling the streets of his home town, Philadelphia, collecting installments for a furniture company. After two miserable years at this he tried his hand at selling life insurance and fared even worse, deciding that he was “never cut out to be a salesman.” How I Raised Myself from Failure to Success in Selling is the account of what he learned to enable his transformation from struggler to the star of his firm.
The greatest selling secret
The conventional wisdom is that you get enthusiastic when you achieve success at something—the feeling comes after the act. But Bettger discovered the truth of Harvard philosopher William James’s
observation that the act can create the feeling; that is, you can become excited about something simply by acting excited about it. Later in his book, Bettger presages today’s cognitive science by suggesting that the practice of regular smiling creates a feeling of happiness and goodwill. Test this out for yourself, and remember that enthusiasm alone can transform your life and your earnings.
Success may look fully formed when we behold it with the perspective of years, but those who have achieved it know that it arrived because they made every hour and every moment productive. We are often so fearful of whether or not we can achieve something that we cannot see that if it is broken down into smaller, daily steps it becomes much easier.
Organization and discipline are more important to success than are great amounts of energy.
- The best salespeople do not “sell”—they find out what the other person wants, then help them find the best way to get it.
- When trying to sell something, talk mostly in terms of “you” and “your.” This lets the other person know you are thinking mainly of their interests.
- Forget witty conversation—be a good listener instead.
- Invest in increasing your knowledge of your own industry. You can’t afford not to.
- In contacts with clients, praise your competitors. It shows clients you are even-handed and won’t hide anything from them.
- Use “witnesses” (i.e., satisfied clients) to sell your product to new clients. Then you can say, “Don’t listen to me, listen to them.”
- Use a magic question to keep yourself in the presence of a potential client. Ask them: “How did you happen to get into this business, Mr/s…?” The history of a person’s career is always of the highest interest to them.
- Prepare for an audience of one as you would an audience of a hundred; i.e., prepare properly for every meeting.
- Be like Abraham Lincoln with his famous two-minute Gettysburg Address, and remember that the book of Genesis is only 442 words long—become a “master of brevity.”
- When you greet someone, say their name.
- For 30 days, smile frequently and watch it transform your life.
- Don’t ever engage another person in argument. Instead, ask questions whose answers are likely to bring them round to your viewpoint.
In a nutshell
Every successful person knows how to sell what they offer. Enthusiasm and organization are the basic elements in selling.