Phenomenal Selling By Means Of The Senses
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
YOU would not buy a watermelon, if it were shaped like a tin dipper, or if it were as small as a hen's egg, because your senses of motion and direction tell you that its shape and form and size are not right. And, you refuse to buy the watermelon which sounds like lead when you tap it, be-cause your sense of sound tells you that it is not ripe.
I buy by use of my senses. So do you!
The other day, a coffee salesman tried to sell me a certain brand of coffee. He talked at length, asserting that it would make a coffee beverage possessing body, taste, and aroma. He was a good talker, and I believe he was sincere. But, when in coffee countries, I had been taught how to judge the age of coffee by the sense of smell, and I refused to buy it. A half hour of words could not convince me that the coffee was fresh.
When you are buying a shirt, you feel its material between your thumb and finger; and, if your tactile sense tells you that the shirt is made of cloth as rough as cotton, and if your pressure sense tells you that its fiber is hard as pig's bristles, you refuse to believe that it is a silk shirt, even though the shop keeper positively assures you by means of words that the shirt is pure silk and all silk.
Words are valueless when contradicted by the action of your senses.
You buy because of the action of your senses.
So does every other person in the world.
Since you buy because of the action of your senses, and since the other person buys because of the action of his senses, why depend on sales talks? If you desire phenomenal success as a salesman, lead the other person to use his senses. As a human being, he buys for the same reason you do by conviction determined by sense action.
Your words will count for nothing with any intelligent man, unless your words are backed up by use of the right senses. But, you can—if you know how to use this means —lead the other person to persuade and convince himself by his use of his own senses.
Use of the senses always succeeds!
Only a short time ago, a very wealthy New Yorker who already owned seven automobiles, purchased three more cars merely because an appeal was made through his tactile sense. Two or three salesmen had been trying to sell him new cars, but he saw no special reason why he should buy, although his income was such that he could have purchased twenty new cars without being inconvenienced.
One salesman, who had gone to him again and again, was on the point of giving up because he had found no appeal sufficiently strong to make the man desire to purchase even one new car. And so, the young sales-man came to consult me. During our con versation, I became convinced that his appearance, his manner, his sales talk, his tones, his posture, and his movements were all fairly good. I knew that the car which he was trying to sell was a good car. And, I knew that the other man could afford to buy it.
"How have you tried to sell it to him?" I asked.
"Why, I've emphasized every good point about the car, I've tried to do it as clearly and concisely as possible ; but he seems to have no desire to buy any more cars."
"Then," I answered, "You need to create desire, and desire is aroused not by WORDS, but by SENSE IMAGES. Sense images are most vivid when aroused by direct sense action. Have you tried that ?"
"Don't even know what it is", he replied.
Then, I explained, "Find out, if possible, to which one of the man's senses you should appeal. Can't you remember anything about the man which will give us a clew."
The young man did remember something, although he had considered it mere nervousness ; the man's hands and fingers were continually active—feeling his stationery as though testing the quality and the finish of the paper ; running the tips of his fore-fingers over the leather bindings of his books, the carving of his Florentine desk, et cetera. The old man's hobby was the collection of rare books, especially leather bound books, because of the feel of them.
Now let me tell you how the three cars were sold in thirteen minutes—for, two days later, the young salesman called upon the man and sold him not one, but three cars.
He made use of the tactile sense.
During these two intervening days the young man had been busy; first, he cleaned and polished a rear axle of the kind used in the car which he was trying to sell ; then, obtaining another audience, he astonished both the gentleman and the gentleman's secretary by bringing in the rear axle of an automobile.
It was of the finest steel, perfectly finished, and highly polished. He asked the man to run his finger tips over it, to feel its perfect smoothness. The prospect hesitated and then did so. A light came into his eyes ! He had never before felt anything so smooth ! Lovingly his finger tips, again and again, ran up and down the axle. Then the salesman placed the axle to one side-within sight, but out of reach; and explained to the man that a car with an axle so finely made must necessarily run more perfectly than cars with parts not so well finished.
In thirteen minutes the deal was closed -closed for three new machines.
Think it over ; action is more effective than tones ; tones are more powerful than words ; words are the least important and the least effective. Why depend on sales talks which are usually tiresome to the prospect, when it is easy to sell by interesting action of the senses?
Of course, use all means : words, plus tones, plus action of the senses, plus posture, plus movement.
A sales talk often fails.
A short time ago, in a Chicago store, I witnessed a salesman attempting to sell a gas range to a housewife. I stood and watched and listened. The salesman emphasized two facts about the heating of the range : first, the oven could be made very hot by burning only a little gas ; and second, the range was so constructed that very little heat was radiated into the room.
A range was on demonstration; the gas was lighted, and the oven was hot.
The woman was interested, there was no doubt about that, but the salesman could not lead her to make a decision to buy any particular range. It seemed that she wanted the one on demonstration ; it seemed evident that she had the means of paying for it; but she could not be brought to make a decision.
After some time, the first salesman held a whispered conference with the floor manager for a moment. The manager sent another salesman to the woman. He went over the whole matter again ; talking and telling her of all the good points of the range just as the first salesman had done. Yet, she made no decision to buy.
I listened, also, to what other salesmen on the floor were saying. They considered her a hopeless prospect. She had been in the store nearly two hours and a half ; and she had been there several times during the preceding week.
I knew that words about heat are not hot ; and, since I was engaged by the company then in conference, I took the liberty of of the Burroughs Adding Machine Company. This company has an ethical standard which its salesmen are required to follow. If a salesman takes an order for a machine which is too large for the custom-Ws use ; that is, if a smaller, less expensive. machine will give the customer the service he needs—then, the company cancels the order, and advises the customer to buy a smaller, less expensive machine.
Several salesmen of this company had been trying to sell a small adding machine to a certain small storekeeper in Detroit. Each had failed. The sales manager sized up the situation and sent out a salesman who had been an actor. This actor-salesman, on his first call, sold a machine to the small storekeeper !
He called at the close of the business day. It was midsummer and it was hot. The storekeeper was working over his accounts, and perspiring. The actor-salesman began mopping his brow, talking about the heat.
Incidentally, he spoke of meeting Mr. A—, who by the way, owned a Burroughs Adding Machine—boating, the day before, between five and six in the afternoon. A little later in the conversation, he mentioned seeing Mr. B—, who, by the way, owned a Burroughs Adding Machine, taking a stroll on Belle Isle, between five and six. In fact, he had seen him there several times during the hot weather of the previous three weeks. He also mentioned (incidentally, of course), that, on several occasions, he and Mr. C—, who owned a Burroughs Adding Machine, had had a good hour's swim between five and six.
The salesman did not appear to be talking about the adding machine at all. He seemed to be rehearsing the pleasures he was having in Detroit those sweltering hot days with men who owned Burroughs Adding Machines, and who—this, however, was never mentioned in words—had spare time late each afternoon to take an hour or two off. And, evidently, it would have been impossible for them to get away from their shops if they had been compelled, as was the poor, sweating shopkeeper to whom the salesman was talking, to work over their books an hour or two after closing time.
He created in the mind of the little store-keeper, the image of satisfaction—the pleasure of taking a walk on Belle Isle, or taking a row on the river, or a cool swim each after-noon. He created in the mind of the little storekeeper, a longing for such leisure, and a recognition of the fact that the possession of a Burroughs Adding Machine would give him that leisure—would make it possible for him to satisfy his longings and, of course, the salesman then and there took an order for a small machine.
In the sale of the gas range the appeal was made to the temperature senses—heat and cold. Moreover, movement was employed. I acted, and I led the woman to do some-thing. Then, also, I used discrimination in my use of tone. I did not talk to her as though I were instructing her. She was a housewife; she worked in a kitchen; I knew that in her work she could instruct me.
But, I knew that few men realize the unending work of a small household. Hence, I was not insincere when I used only sympathetic tones, because I did sympathize with her. That gave her confidence that I would recommend only that which she most needed, the kind of range which would be of greatest service to her.
In selling the Burroughs Adding Machine, an appeal was made to the sense images of the cool shade of Belle Isle and the cool swim in the river; and, to the sense images of quiet activity—rowing, strolling, resting. And then the salesman, by his own movement—wiping the perspiration from his forehead, by his breathing, and by his sighing—emphasized the heat and fatigue in the office in late afternoon.
And, the tones were idealized in vividly picturing the pleasure which might be had by a small storekeeper who was able to settle up his own accounts quickly by using a small adding machine.
The ethics of the use of any means depends on the ethics of the man using them. In the case of the actor-salesman, he succeeded because he harmonized all the means of telling the storekeeper the truth about the service which the machine would render.
When the senses are used in selling, success is always certain—not only in the sales-work of large corporations, but also in the sales of individuals who are out "on their own."
A young man, back from the war, found himself without a suitable position. He had been reared in a county of northwest New Jersey. There are a few villages of from 800 to 5,000 population in the county, and by 1920 some of these were supplied with electricity by a large power company. Outside the villages, the county was well populated, and the farmers were prosperous. Yet, they were without electric lights.
The young man recognized the need of better lighting—electric lights instead of old oil lamps—in the homes of the farmers. Here was a virgin field for individual sales-work.
He went into the business. He became agent for one of the companies manufacturing unit electric light plants for private homes. Then he went to the company's factory to study the apparatus, and to its sales organization to be trained in selling. He was taught sales talk. He was well trained, both in knowledge of his product and in methods of presenting it. Moreover, he knew the field well, for he had been reared in the county.
Personally, he was all a salesman should be—genial, good appearing, likeable, full of energy—one of the finest and most faith-inspiring young men whom I have met. If any man could have succeeded by good sales talks, he could have succeeded. Yet, his sales did not build up as he wished they would.
The farmers needed electric lights, but it was not easy to convince them that they needed better lighting. They were not inclined to buy individual electric light plants.
There was one objection which it seemed impossible to overcome. In each case, be-fore the young man could finish his sales talk, every farmer would say, "I guess we'll not waste any money in a 'lectric light plant. We've got along with lamp-light a ,good many years, and it's good enough now."
For months he tried to overcome this objection by presenting every statement of fact, and every illustration of which he could think, to prove how much brighter the farm house would be if electric lights were installed. Still, the sales lagged, and, although he did well—better than salesmen of other companies—yet, he knew that he was not closing 75 per cent of the possible purchasers.
Without having heard of selling by the senses, he began "to figure out" how, with-out arousing antagonism by too much talk, he could convince a farmer that the light in his own home—the oil lamp light—was not good enough. One day he "got an idea," and carried it out. For three days he shut himself up in his shop, and worked at installing one of his unit electric light plants in the back compartment of his automobile. He attached a long, flexible cord to the plant and a powerful light bulb to the cord. Then, he planned to visit farmers only in the evening, and to waste no time in sales talks during the day.
This is how his new sales method works : when he calls on a farmer, he drives as near the house as possible, and when the farmer makes the objection that the "oil lamp is good enough for him," the young man says, "Certainly, you're the one to decide on that, but, wait a minute." Out he goes to his auto, starts the plant in the back of his car, carries the long cord into the house, and then—without turning on the electric light, he insists that the farmer sit down with his newspaper, near his old oil lamp.
And, as the farmer strains his eyes to read, tipping his head to get a better light on his paper—suddenly, the young salesman switches on the electric light, and the room is brilliantly flooded with light which reaches to every corner.
When the farmer, in one instant, finds the light in his living room changed from the dull red shadowy light of the oil lamp, to the glowing white brilliancy of the electric lamp, his ideas change his own ideas of his needs. It is an appeal to his senses. The contrast to the sense of sight is so great that no further sales talk is needed!
Within a short time after adopting this method, the young man had that county completely "sold" on unit electric light plants. Moreover, since he never antagonized by talking too much, he won such good will that the county became his field, and all other companies practically with-drew. During the past year all the unit electric light plants sold in that county—with the exception of two—were sold by that young man. The two others were purchased by people who had just moved into the county, and who did not yet know of the young salesman. I know of few records which equal this—in quick sales, good will, and complete control of territory.
To quadruple your sales, cut down your sales talk 97 per cent, and devise means which make it necessary for the prospect to use his special senses.