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If the toughest sales managers and most demanding customers in the world ever get together to create the perfect salesman, we submit he'll come out something like this:
(1) He is positive. He is confident because he knows why he is calling on his prospect, the good things his product will do for him and how their relationship will profit both of them. This positive quality is in evidence throughout his presentation, makes asking for the order a natural, logical finale of all that has preceded it.
(2) He knows his prospect's needs. He is ready to present his case in terms of the benefits to be gained and the losses to be avoided by the specific customer in terms of his specific business. He makes himself ready by correctly "casing" his prospect in advance. This includes acquainting himself with the prospect as an individual (age, education, interests) as well as a businessman (his responsibilities, goals, budget, past dealings with the salesman's firm).
(3) He asks for the order. Whatever may be the pleasant, personal aspects of the call, he knows, as a salesman, that he sees his prospects to get an order and he asks for it. Since he knows the benefits his product is built to confer, he is not humble or shy about requesting the order. On the contrary, he is proud to be the intermediary between his firm and his prospect.
(4) He takes a failure in his stride. The perfect salesman knows that he is not going to get an order from every interview and is self-possessed enough to take a defeat without seeing it as a personal rejection or disaster and to go on with his work. He realizes that part of his job is to learn from his failures - and he does.
(5) He does not play doubtful angles. He plans and expects to make his sales on the merits of his product and wastes no time figuring personal angles and pulls or other devious manipulations. He avoids name dropping that is not backed up by facts and dark hints about reciprocity. Why - because he doesn't need crutches and gimmicks.
(6) He is always looking for the extra beyond the ordinary. Nothing is good to him because it is good enough to get by with; he is constantly and relentlessly on the search for the extra he can know, the extra he can do. Toward this commendable end he maintains several lines of communications; to his own company and its assorted experts; to customers and prospects for their suggestions, complaints and ideas; to the competition and its ideas.
(7) He does not overplay good fellowship. The perfect salesman is sincerely friendly, but he thinks of himself as a businessman and acts like one, not wasting his time or his customer's with trivialities. He understands the necessity for a moderate amount of business entertaining, but knows the folly of attempting to buy an order.
(8) He stays away from coercive tactics. He has a reasonable proposal which he believes he can prove will benefit his customer and feels no need either to push him a round or hypnotize him. Certainly, he would never dream of raising his voice, suggesting unethical "deals" or in any way putting his prospect on the spot.
(9) He is not obsessed with his competition. He knows - studies – keeps up-to date on - his competition but he has already so thought through his own work in relation to it that he does not allow it to confuse, dominate or enslave his mind. He is never on the defensive about his product, and of course, he never, never, never knocks his rivals. He doesn't have to.
(10) He makes every call important. He does not make calls when he has no other reason for them than that perhaps they may do some good; he knows why he is calling and makes cans serve their purpose. He never is "just in the neighborhood" or "thought he'd drop in to see how things are going.” He always has a bona fide reason for calling…. a new product to demonstrate, an idea to pass along, an opinion to get. Whenever he leaves a prospect, that prospect thinks, "I'm glad he came by”.
(11) He gives every call an individual flavor. He has his facts well in mind and tested phrases at his tongue's end, but he so words and presents what he has to say that he applies it to each individual so that it sounds distinctively directed to the man he is calling on. He accomplishes this by preparing himself beforehand. That is, he makes it his business - as indeed it is - to find out what his prospect's special problems are…..his needs…..his wants. Realizing that he is, basically, a problem solver, the perfect salesman habitually “looks for trouble”. And he keeps an eagle eye out for solutions.
(12) He serves rather than sells. He does not start out to sell something but to serve somebody and this livens the tone of his voice and maintains the enthusiasm of his spirit. And he is smart enough to realize that the service he renders need not always be directly connected with his product.
(13) He is a gentleman. Thoroughly respecting himself and his work, he manifests respect for his customer and his work, thus being naturally courteous, appreciative and self-possessed. Although his business calls are business oriented, he can when necessary hold up his end of a conversation revolving about ideas, current events, the arts. He doesn't stoop to low humor or vulgar language. Nor does he feel the necessity to prove himself “one of the boys”. The result: he is respected by others and taken seriously.
(14) He manages his time well. Time is the salesman's wallet, worth just as much as he puts into it; the perfect salesman handles time as meticulously as a chemist measures liquids. This means, first of all, that he plans his days, weeks, even months in advance. He knows where he must be at any given time, whom he will be seeing, what he needs for each call in the way of samples and visuals. Secondly, he is prepared to answer all, or at least, most questions and objections. Thirdly, he arranges his days so that his subsidiary duties, correspondence, telephone calls, miscellaneous paper work-conflict minimally with his selling hours. Finally, he has evolved some method of devoting more time to his bigger-and potentially bigger-accounts than to his smaller ones; at the same time, he does not neglect these smaller customers.
(15) He is persistent. Aware of the human tendency to procrastination, he takes it for granted and holds himself relentlessly to pursuing a sale until it is either consummated or he is convinced that there is a good reason for it not being consummated. Even then, he continues to try to eliminate the causes of "no sale."
(16) He is his own severest critic. He needs no sales manager to pursue him. He is his own sales manager, always alert to his own manifestations of weakness and ready to correct them. The only time he really worries is when he finds himself completely satisfied with his own performance. Should he knowingly err, even if he manages to get away with it, he bends his energies toward eliminating a recurrence of his mistake. He knows that the only man with whom he is truly in competition is-himself. And he is always trying to beat the salesman that he was yesterday.
(17) He can laugh at himself. He has a sense of humor, but he directs it at himself, not at others, thus keeping himself in the right perspective and not losing his sense of proportion.
(18) He does not fight figures. The perfect salesman does not expect miracles, but rather paces himself scientifically by facts, stepping up his work when times are slack to produce the extra asset to make up for the deficit.
(19) He creates customers. He is out to make more than sales; he is out to create customers, which he does by being their best-informed purchasing consultant and profit-builder. To keep well-informed, he is a steady, voracious reader of the trade press…..he keeps his eyes and ears open…..he constantly asks himself, when he comes across any item of interest, "Who might profit from this?” Of necessity he is a communicative person-he maintains a steady flow of letters and notes to customers and prospects, he uses his telephone, he speaks up at customers’ homes, offices or stores.
(20) He takes care of complaints at once. When trouble appears, he tackles it immediately, knowing well that complaints only fester if they are left without immediate attention. He has trained himself, accordingly, to be a good listener and to be intimately familiar with the machinery and policies of his firm for settling gripes. He does not promise satisfaction unless he is sure he can follow through. But once he tells an unhappy customer that he will attend to a matter for him, his word is his bond.
(21) He knows people. He takes time to get acquainted with the best of modern understanding of human psychology, reading constantly to find out what moves people to act and react as they do.
(22) He is accurate, What he knows about his product, he knows and what he does not know, he knows that he does not know; his customers can count as facts what he tells them are such. He is not afraid of admitting a gap in his knowledge but almost always knows how, where or by whom it can be filled. Once learned, facts are his forever.
(23) He is not temperamental. Having no illusions about being a genius, he takes pride in his record only, thus disciplining his faculties to the steady work required to maintain it.
(24) He develops good habits of work. Realizing that routine work can be minimized by good working habits, the perfect salesman develops these, thus releasing both time and energy for creative thinking and selling, He has trained himself, therefore, to be methodical, developing certain tested responses to recurring situations. He has, for example, model letters of tested effectiveness for answering inquiries. He can answer the most common objections to his product in any of several ways. He has learned from experience, what appeals are most effective with prospects for what he is selling.
(25) He studies salesmanship, He knows that salesmanship consists as much, if not more, in techniques as in personality, and holds himself to continuous study of new and improved methods. Realizing that, regardless of what he sells, he deals in idea s, he is on a constant alert for new ones or fresh applications of old ones. Consequently, he maintains an open mind and is willing to experiment.
That, then, is the anatomy of the perfect salesman. A rare specimen indeed.
That's why the demand for him-and the rewards he can look forward to-are so great.
From the publication:
“Collected Sales Management Speeches”
Compiled throughout the 1960s and early 1970s