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What Can You Do To Get Better? Follow The Masters
by Jeffrey Gitomer

I began this year in retrospect by reading a 60-year-old book on the masters of selling. The book, titled “America’s Twelve Master Salesmen,” was written and published by B.C. Forbes & Sons in 1953.

The book was based on the fact that each one of these master salespeople had one extremely powerful overriding principle or philosophy upon which his or her success was based.

Not that it was their “only,” but rather were the words they stood for. For example: When you think of Martin Luther King – you think of “I Have A Dream.” He stood for those words. When you think of Patrick Henry – you think of, “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death.” When you think of Richard Nixon – you think “I’m Not a Crook.” (and you’d be thinking wrong)

It is amazing how self-truths become self-evident truths after thirty or forty years of exposure – one way or the other.

Back to the book. Suppose you could adopt (or adapt) all of these master’s single best characteristic into your own set of capabilities. That would be power.

And so, to challenge your 2015 thinking, here are the master’s philosophies from 1953. And yes, I have added my own to the list – even though in 1953 I was a mere child.

1. James A. Farley (corporate executive) Principle: Idlers do not last long. Starting as a door-to-door salesman, raising to Vice President of Sales for Universal Gypsum, and ultimately a board of director for several large companies including Coca-Cola, Farley believed that doing several things at once was the key to accomplishment. His secret was doing new things at the same time he was following up and building relationships. Often sending 100 letters a day, he was renowned for making and keeping friends.

2. Max Hess, Jr. (retail store chain owner) Principle: Strive for a specific goals. Hess’s father used to say, “There’s no fun or excitement in just running a store. That way it’s drudgery. The fun and excitement come out of always figuring ways to stay ahead of the other fellow.” He believed in the stimulating power of keeping Hess Brothers forever exciting – exciting not only for the people who shop there but for those who work in the store. Hess made a business plan full of goals. And in a small town environment achieved big city results by working his plan every day, and having a happy army of people (his employees) helping him every step of the way.

3. Conrad N. Hilton (hotel owner) Principle: Make them want to come back. “It is our theory that when a hotel is in the top-glamour category… you just can’t make it too luxurious. You heap it on. You never stop pondering the question, ‘What aren’t guests getting that they might be getting in the way of elegance and personal attention?’” Hilton knew that one hotel is like any other hotel. The difference is in how you treat the guests. All he asked of his employees was to be nice to people so they will want to come back. They have been coming back for nearly 100 years.

4. Alex M. Lewyt (manufacturer of the Lewyt vacuum cleaner) Principle: Believe in your product and love it. So will the world! He was an engineer that was convinced he had built the world’s best vacuum cleaner. Advertised it before production was finished. Created a demand in the market with no product (a market vacuum if you will pardon the pun). When the cleaner finally emerged on the market, it was swept up (sorry again). Four million sales in four years. Lewyt said that having the best product is not enough. You must believe it’s the best, and share your passion through every marketing and advertising means.

5. Mary Margaret McBride (radio broadcaster and columnist. Influencer of millions) Principle: Honesty is the best policy. “If I am convinced in my heart and mind that I’m speaking the truth, I approach the job as I would a sale – with zest and interest. And in my heart I know that I am actually performing a service on behalf of my listener – who is in reality, my customer. Honesty breeds loyal customers.” Her values made her a fortune.

GITOMER NOTE ON HONESTY: When you hear a corporate message like: “To serve you better…” or an employee says, “We’re doing the best we can…,” no matter how you want to defend those words, they’re lies.

The Orison Swett Marden quote: “No substitute has yet been found for honesty,” is a benchmark that everyone will read and agree with – yet very few will follow.

Free GitBit. The author of America’s Twelve Master Salesmen, the late great B.C. Forbes, had a formula for sales. It’s yours for the taking. Go to www.gitomer.com -- and enter FORBES in the GitBit box.

The book, titled “America’s Twelve Master Salesmen,” was written and published by B.C. Forbes & Sons in 1953. Yes, there were women in the book, but in those days, “men” was the universal gender. Today, it’s quite the opposite.

The book was based on the fact that each one of these master salespeople had one extremely powerful overriding principle or philosophy upon which his or her success was based.

Back to the book. Suppose you could adopt (or adapt) all of these master’s single best characteristic into your own set of capabilities. That would be power.

And so, to challenge your 2015, here are four more master’s philosophies from 1953.

6. Alfred E. Lyon (street salesman in Manhattan and later corporate executive) Principle: Sell yourself first. “Remember, your customers don’t buy your product. They buy you. If they buy you, they will sell your product for you.” His approach of, “I treat my potential customers as I would treat a stranger whom I wanted to be my friend,” was a benchmark for his success. He realized that people buy from people they like. And all he did was get people to like him, and the rest was easy. NOTE: As CEO of Phillip Morris, he created the infamous Phillip Morris Man, Johnny Roventini (known as a “living trademark”) and the slogan, “Call for Phillip Morris.”

7. Arthur H. “Red” Motley Principle: Nothing happens until somebody sells something. He sold for the Fuller Brush Company door to door in the 1920’s, he sold cough syrup with a traveling medicine show, he sold advertising for Collier’s Magazine, he founded Parade Magazine (still in existence today inserted into Sunday papers), and he created an (maybe THE) all time legendary philosophy of sales, “Nothing happens until somebody sells something.”

As a trainer in the 40’s and 50’s, Motley created a simple 15-word sales course which covered every element important to begin or master.

1. Know your product.

2. See a lot of people.

3. Ask all to buy.

4. Use common sense.

Remember this was the 40’s. No TV, no computer, no credit cards, no Apple Watch, no smart phone, and no Internet. People actually wrote letters.

At the end of his working career he became one of the most sought after sales speakers and trainers in the world.

He had another philosophy: “One of the reasons we do so much business in America is because we have learned not to make the customer wait. Wants created that remain unsatisfied for any appreciable length of time usually die.” Pity he wasn’t around today to hear, “your call will be answered in the order in which it was received.”

8. Dr. Norman Vincent Peale Principle: Have faith in people – they are basically good. Author of the timeless classic, “The Power of Positive Thinking,” Peale used the pulpit to preach the importance and the personal power of achievement through attaining a positive attitude. The spirit and the spirituality of attitude, and the success it can bring are timeless. And more needed today than fifty years ago.

If you just get Dr. Peale’s book and read two pages a day for a year or so, you’re on the right path.

BONUS FACT: If you’re ever in New York City, you can visit his church at the corner of 29th and Fifth Avenue. Peale’s statue tells you you’re in the right place.

9. Winthrop Smith Principle: The Queen is in the counting house… Known for publishing the free booklet, and running free seminars on “What You Should Know about Stocks and Bonds,” Smith, the President of what is known today as Merrill Lynch, created an “everyman’s” desire for investing. His passion was to teach people about the power of their own money, and how they could invest it to secure their future income. And he did. And they invested in stocks and bonds with his firm. His associates nicknamed him “Win.” Not short for Winthrop -- short for winner. He became a winner by helping others win. NOTE: Smith was one of the original founders of Merril Lynch, known then as Merril Lynch, Pierce, Fenner and Smith.

In 1976, I remarked to one of my mentors that he seemed to have a lot of luck. Every project he undertook seemed to end up golden. He smiled and replied, “Hard work makes luck.” Those words have stuck with me since.

The last (and best of) the masters will be here same time, next week…stay tuned.

Free GitBit. The author of America’s Twelve Master Salesmen, the late great 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.