Lessons From The Greatest Salesman In The World (PART 3)

I love the following part of Gladwell’s article on Popeil so much that you are getting it verbatim.  When reading this passage, it’s best to picture a well dressed but hard working 40-something, selling in a vaudeville monologue:

“If, out of a crowd of fifty, twenty-five people come forward to buy, the true pitchman sells to only twenty of them.  To the remaining five, he says, “Wait!  There’s something else I want to show you!”  Then he starts his pitch again, with slight variations, and the remaining four or five become the core of the next crowd…”

How can we possibly use this to sell today?

Well, we can certainly use it if we sell at a market stall, but these days that accounts for only a few of us.  The rest of us sell in a corporate environment, and an increasing amount over the phone.

I think a useful way to think about this passage of the book is to consider this concept of “herding”.

Psychologists such as Dr Robert Cialdini say that humans are much more likely to do something that others are doing.

That’s why a piano man in a bar will “salt” the jar with a few five dollar notes at the start of the night.

It sends a clear direction to others.

How do we make herding work for us?

Referral selling might be the modern, consultative example of making this work.  Think about who are like your customers in various ways – number of employees, buying patterns, industries, challenges – and send them a beautifully presented sheet with your customer’s case study on it.

Keeping the focus of your initial sale very simple might be another example:  bringing a client into your world for 5 different services is much more challenging than bringing them in on the easiest service to say “yes to”.

You can always sell them the rest later – once they have paid their first invoice and established that spending pattern it’s much easier.

I know infomercials are annoying, and only for late night potato couches.  But the fact is, in one hour they can sell $1.5m worth of products.  Which is why I’ve paid more than a passing nod to this classic form of selling.

Continuing the theme, the next sales book I’m interested in reading is “How I Raised Myself From Failure to Success in Selling” by Frank Bettger.  When was it written?  1947.  And I can’t wait!

If you would like to talk to me about introducing some classics of the classics with a modern twist into your business, then please do contact us on 0207 043 1582.

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