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Want the ‘master’s touch’? Study them and do what they did


I began the year in retrospect by reading “America’s Twelve Master Salesmen,” written and published by B.C. Forbes & Sons in 1953. Each of the masters had one extremely powerful overriding principle or philosophy upon which his or her success was based. In the last two weeks, I have presented the first 10 masters. There are 12.5 in all (I’m the .5, of course).

Suppose you could adopt (or adapt) all of these masters’ single-best characteristics into your own set of capabilities. That would be power. To challenge you in 2003, here are two more masters’ philosophies from 1953.

o Thomas J. Watson, salesman and later a corporate officer for National Cash Register Co. under the tutelage of John Patterson. Principle: “Pack your todays with effort – extra effort.” The following conversation illustrates Watson’s belief that to overcome an objection, he had to walk in with answers:

Prospect: “No. I don’t want to buy a cash register.”

Watson: “I know you don’t. That’s why I came to see you. I knew if you wanted one, you would come down to the office and pick one out. What I’ve come for is to find out why you don’t want one.”

Providing answers takes extra preparation on the part of the salespeople – extra effort. Was the extra effort Watson put into his sales career worth it? After leaving NCR as one of its all-time great salespeople, he started a second career for which he is more well-known. From 1956 to 1971, he was chairman and CEO of IBM.

o Elmer G. Leterman, one of the best sales speakers, sales writers and progressive strategists of his time, and my personal favorite. Principle: “Neglected customers never buy; they just fade away.” This principle merges the significance of three relationship factors of customer loyalty: giving value to the customer, staying in front of the customer and serving the customer. Leterman added to this strategy his personal philosophy: “I have adhered to a personal rule of trying to do for the other fellow what he can’t do for himself – without any strings attached.” In the 1950s, Leterman was also the first to write on sales creativity in “Personal Power Through Creative Selling.”

o Jeffrey Gitomer. Principle: “People don’t like to be sold, but they love to buy.” My statement is not only the philosophy by which I live my sales life, it is also a registered trademark. If salespeople (you) would just stop selling and transfer that energy into creating an atmosphere to buy, they (you) would double their (your) sales.     What principles are you known by? What is your primary success strategy? What would someone say your philosophy was if they had to boil it down to one sentence? What have you done to live your philosophy and to make it known to others by your writings and by your actions?

Perhaps this should be a year to take a closer look at your bigger picture rather than a frustrated look at your quota and monthly sales achievements.

If you think none of the masters ever had a problem achieving his or her dreams, think again. Every one of them dealt wtih failure and adversity in one form or another. Everyone has challenges. By adopting and living a philosophy or a principle, these people became successful in spite of adversity – not successful to you or me, but successful to themselves, the only place success matters.

Please don’t e-mail me and ask where to buy this book. It has probably been out of print for 45 or more years. Go to bookfinder.com and search for a used copy. Please do e-mail me (jeffrey@gitomer.com) if you would like to share your prime principle. I’ll pass them along in my free weekly newsletter, Sales Caffeine, and those submitting the top 10 will get a free “Coffee is for Closers” mug.

Didn’t get the first two parts of this series? Go to www.gitomer.com and enter MASTERS in the GitBit box and the entire column is yours. Also included are the 12 masters and their principles on one page.

Free GitBit: B.C. Forbes had a formula for sales. It’s yours for the taking. Go to www.gitomer.com, register if you’re a first-time user and enter FORBES in the GitBit box.

President of Charlotte-based Buy Gitomer, Jeffrey Gitomer gives seminars, runs annual sales meetings, and conducts Internet training programs on selling and customer service at www.trainone.com. He can be reached at (704) 333-1112 or by e-mail at salesman@gitomer.com.  

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