Guaranty Trust Company of New York.

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field, dependent solely upon his own resources. Now he
follows a definite, proved-by-experience plan, prepared by
his house, for selling each customer whom he approaches.

This is the story of how an actual sale was begun,
carried through and closed. The machines were sold by
the author of this article to the Oil Well Supply Com-
pany. The letters quoted and reproduced are in the
files of the author.

This is a usual, not an exceptional case. It shows
in detail how a successful company markets its product.
Especial value attaches to it from the fact that the


prospective buyer had to be educated to a knowledge and
appreciation of the machine. The story tells just how
the feeling of need and the consequent desire were in-
stilled in the prospect.

The sale of an equipment of the commercial grapho-
phone is begun weeks before the customer is approached.

Each step taken is part of a carefully mapped out
scheme, the aim of which is to eliminate, in so far as is
possible, the element of chance in the transaction.

The first step in making the sale is the compilation
of a list of the firms who should be users of the com-
mercial graphophone. These are secured from Dun's
and Bradstreet's, from the membership lists of the
Chamber of Commerce, the Mercantile and Manufac-
turers' Association, and other sources to which we have

A card is written for each of these firms; on it, in
addition to their office address, is placed their rating,
the line of business in which they are engaged, the
names of their officers, the name of their purchasing
agent, and, if possible to secure it, the name of their
sales manager. Any personal information regarding
any or all of these men obtained from any source is also
recorded. It may be that Brown of the firm of Brown
& Hillegass, who is an enthusiastic user of the grapho-
phone, and a good friend of mine, calls me on the tele-
phone and whispers that 'Jones of the firm of Jones &
Laughlin, or some other equally enterprising concern,
was in Brown's office yesterday and wanted to know
about the machines.

This information is carefully recorded on Jones &
Laughlin 's card. It may be that no card had been
previously made out. If so, no time is lost in making
one, and when it comes time for Jones & Laughlin to


take their little dose of commercial graphophone litera-
ture, the letter, instead of being addressed to the firm
and finding its way to the waste basket, is addressed to
Jones personally. If we are shy his initials, the direc-
tory has in the meantime supplied these.

How All Information Received Regarding Possible

Prospects is Recorded

These cards are filed in a drawer marked "Prospects/
They are filed alphabetically and by towns. Once each
day six names are selected from this file, and, the aotea
on the cards having been carefully considered, a per-
sonal letter is dictated to each. This writing of personal
letters insures each distinct type of business being
handled just as it needs to be. The manufacturer of
pig iron receives a materially different letter than ia
sent out to the lawyer, and his again is different from
that which goes to the manager of a large department

With this letter is enclosed a little booklet just large
enough to fit the vest pocket, entitled, ' ' It Saves Time. '
A neatly printed list of the users of the graphophone
in and about Pittsburg is also enclosed.

The sending of the tetter and literature are recorded
on the prospect card, and it is transferred, together with
copies of the correspondence, to a holdover file, which
occupies a prominent place on the top of my desk.
Here it stays until the deal is closed, or a flat refusal
to purchase has been given. Copies of any subsequent
letters are added to it. In case the sale is not made, and
the closing letter states that the matter may be con-
sidered at some future time, the card is endorsed, "Not
dead, but sleeping/' and filed in a drawer, to be fol-
lowed up later. If a specific date be fixed for again


taking up the subject, a note is made on the card for
that date in the desk tickler.

It will be noted that all the work up to this point has
for its object to give the salesman a knowledge of his
prospective buyer, which will stand him in good stead
when he meets him face to face. It is, of course, Taken
for granted that he is possessed of all the knowledge
of his machine necessary and this means knowing it
"down to the ground. " If he does not have this, he
had better get it or resign. He must be in a position
to meet and overcome instantly any and all objections
which may be raised. It is good business sometimes to
anticipate the objections and thus rob tlie buyer of his
" thunder. "

Salesmen Must Have Knowledge of Both His
Machine and His Prospect

Tiie sale of a commercial graphopiione depends en-
tirely upon the ability of the salesman to make the
buyer see the following three points which are claimed
for the machine:

First, that the use of the machines will save him from
40 to 50 per cent of his expense for letter writing.

Second, that with them he is the absolute master of
his time. He can dictate at any hour of the day or
night, and at any desired rate of speed.

Third, that letters dictated in this way at the mo-
ment when the subject is fresh in his mind, and in abso-
lute privacy are apt to be better constructed, more
concise than when dictated to the average stenographer,
who, when the pace becomes hot, as mental concentration
advances, is apt to interrupt the dictator to inquire,
artlessly, "Please, sir, did you say oxtail soup or castile
soap? "


There are, of course, many other supplementary argu-
ments in favor of the machine. But the arguments that
count in the approach, in the heat of battle and in the
closing of the deal are always the ones set down above.
The refrain of "40 per cent" is sweet music to the ear
of the prospective buyer in these days of keen com-
petition. He is the man, probably, who has to face a
board of directors at the annual meeting and explain
why the dividend, which was 8 per cent last year, is
only 6 per cent this year. In this embarrassing posi-
tion, a 40 per cent saving in any department is as a life
preserver to the hapless voyager who has fallen over-
board in mid- Atlantic.

This being the case, the points above covered are
brought out prominently in every letter that is written
leading up to the first interview. They are made the
prominent feature of that interview. In the trial of
the machines which ensues, the records of work done
are carefully tabulated with regard to the saving, con-
venience and better construction of letters. In closing
the deal, all this is brought to bear upon the buyer,
to prove that the claims made have been amply sub-
stantiated, and that he cannot afford to be without the
machine "that saves Mm 40 per cent."

Newness of the Product Demands Full Explanation

of Advantages

In most instances the use of a commercial grapho-
phone is an entirely new thing to the man to whom
you are talking. He uses typewriters, has used them
for years; automobiles he knows all about; adding ma-
chines are no longer untried mysteries to him. But
when I come along and talk to him about a commercial
graphophone, he at ones removes himself to t?nt mys-


Forra x: The prospect card on which is gathered the fullest possible information re-
garding firms and individuals to be approached by salesmen. The
check indicates the proper man to see

terious region known as "Missouri," and demands to be
shown. So to the work of salesmanship is added the
factor of educating him first as to his need for the
machine, and, second, as to what the machine is.

Another obstacle which the commercial graphophone
salesman has to meet which is not true of many other
lines is the opposition of stenographers. The writer well
remembers when the lineotype typesetting machine was
first introduced. I firmly believe that ten years from
now, all dictation of whatever kind or description will
be given to machines. I am just as firmly convinced
that ten years from now, there will be fifty per cent more
typewriter operators employed than there are at this

In some instances the opposition of stenographers has
been the factor which made me lose a sale, but the
number of business houses who allow any influence aside
from the opinion of the responsible head to dictate their
policies is becoming less all the time.


Bearing these points in mind, we will now proceed to
show just how a sale of commercial graphophones is
made. On the twenty-fourth day of September, 1904,
among the six prospect cards which were brought out
of the file to be written to was the one shown in Figure I.

The data on the card having been mentally digested,
I dictated the letter reproduced in Figure II as the first

With this letter was enclosed some advertising matter
regarding the advantages of the commercial grapho-
phone, and a list of the firms in and about the city who
were already users.

Two days later the letter shown in Figure II was
received from Mr. J. D. Brown, manager of the sales
department of the Oil .Well Supply Company.

On receiving this letter I called up Mr. Brown and
made an engagement to see him about 11 o'clock to talk
over the matter. Promptly at the hour I was ushered
into his -presence.

Emphasizing the Strongest Point of the Article in

the Selling Tzlk

I found Mr. Brown to be a very cordial man, but
keen, accustomed to doing business quickly. He had
my correspondence before him, and without delay we got
down to business. He went straight to the heart of the

"This 40 per cent saving/' he asked, "how is it ef-
fected ? ' '

"Just this way," and I explained it to him in a few

He was interested.

"Now let us do a little figuring, if you please," I
continued. And in detail I figured out the number of



hours, and reduced these to the dollars and cents of the
actual saving this would bring Mr. Brown.

While I was demonstrating this saving in percentages,
in the actual figures of his particular circumstances,
Mr. Brown was jotting down some figures on a pad of
paper, and when I had concluded, he had reduced the
percentages to dollars and cents. It was contemplated
to install four machines, two in the sales department and


Form: II The first exchange of letters which led to the actual sale described in the
chapter. On the left is shown the "first gun " in the fight,
at the right the "come on. "

two in that of the purchasing end. The stenographers
were each paid $75 per month. Mr. Brown was sur-
prised to find that the time saved daily by the two
stenographers would amount, in wages saved alone, in
one month to $51.84.

"On the face of it,' he said, "this looks to me like
a good thing. But look here, what's this outfit going
to cost us, and what will be the expense of maintaining
it I mean for supplies, repairs, etc?'


' ' Your initial expense will be about $300 for the entire
outfit. This will include enough cylinders to last you
six months.'

' ' Those cylinders, ' interposed Mr. Brown, ' what do
they cost, and how long will each one last ? '

"A cylinder holds eight average business letters of
fourteen lines each. You can shave this cylinder 100
times. This gives you 800 letters at a cost of 30 cents,
plus the time of a boy used in shaving the cylinder.
This is a good deal less than the notebooks and pencils
would cost you to take shorthand dictation for the same
number of letters.'

While I was saying this I had reduced the calculation
to figures on the pad before Mr. Brown. I believe in
putting any proposition in salesmanship into figures.
Your customer comprehends it much better. It inspires
confidence, too. The buyer's unconscious mental atti-
tude is that the statement made must be right or you
would not be willing to put it "in writing.'

Applying Training Knowledge to the Prospect's
Particular Circumstances

Mr. Brown checked the figures on my calculation.
Then came half a dozen questions in quick succession.

"After the dictation has been recorded on the cylin-
ders, can my stenographer hear it well enough to make
rapid time in transcription?'

"Suppose I am interrupted in the middle of a letter
by a man whom I don't want to keep waiting, what

"But suppose I have forgotten what I said in the
letter up to the point where I was interrupted?'

"Do the machines require much attention? Do they
get out of order easily ? '



These questions I had, of course, been trained by
schooling in the goods and by practical experience to
answer without hesitating. And in each case the answer
was made specific applicable directly to this man's

After my last answer Mr. Brown pushed a button on
his desk.


. U-ar'Wi-. I/rn*


Form III: The letters which prepared prospect and salesman for the consummation of

the selling transaction, one giving notice of the expiration of the trial period,

the other accepting the machines




Ask Mr. Connor to step here for a moment.
to the boy who answered.

Mr. Connor was the purchasing agent of the company.
After introducing me, Mr. Brown synopsized the prop-
osition to Mr. Connor. I was somewhat surprised, and
not a little taken down, to note how well he did this,
how the points which had impressed him were empha-
sized, to the exclusion or minimizing of the non-essen-
tials. Mr. Connor is a young man. It is enough to
say that he is a native Pittsburger. He hardly uttered
a word until Mr. Brown had finished. Then, to me: "If
we buy these machines what discount do you give ? '


"Two per cent for cash in ten days from date of
bill," I answered.

"No more?" he queried.

"That's the limit," was my reply.

"All right; I'm willing to give them a whirl." This
to Mr. Brown. "How soon can you install them?' he

asked me.

"In two hours," I came back. This was after mine

own heart.

"I'll write you a letter today receipting this propo-
sition and accepting the machines on the trial basis,'
said Mr. Brown, as I was picking up my hat to leave.

"Wait two hours and dictate it to the graphophone.
I'll have them working in that time," was my reply.

How the Demonstrator Helps the Prospective Users

During the Trial

Two hours later the machines were installed. In the
presence of all of the men who were to give dictation,
I dictated a cylinder facetiously headed "Dissertation
by the Doctor," in which I outlined the proper methods
of giving dictation, the correct pitch of the voice, how
to hold the pipe, emphasizing the necessity of pronounc-
ing all the syllables of each word distinctly, ending the
whole "spiel' 1 ' with the comforting adjuration that these
things, while they appeared somewhat complicated at
first, would become entirely mechanical later.

After having each one of the dictators listen to the
"dissertation,' I had each one dictate a letter, and
listen to its reproduction. Thus each saw, or rather
heard, the flaws in his manner of dictating, and, un-
consciously, remedied them.

The hour thus spent was repeated each day of the trial


On the day previous to the expiration of the trial
period I dictated the letter reproduced in Figure III
to the Oil Well Supply people, calling their attention
to the expiration of the trial period and soliciting their

In response to this I received next day the letter of
acceptance shown in Figure III.

Of course I called, and Mr. Brown handed me the
order, for which I thanked him. Later I dictated a
personal letter to him and to Mr. Connor, in which
their uniform courtesy was acknowledged, and the as-
surance given that I would be pleased always tu see to it
that their business received my personal attention. I also
suggested, as modestly as possible, that any information
regarding other business houses whose crying need was
commercial graphophones would be appreciated.

The Chain of Evidence

salesman who determines with
A absolute accuracy what it means,
first, to prove a proposition, and second,
to apply the general principles of dem-
onstration to an immediate matter in
hand, knows just how far to go in
making a demonstration, what to in-
clude and what to exclude. He can
sec in his mind's eye the chain of evi-
dence that he is fashioning and will
make that chain exact, logical and con-

Selling a Line


2'rsasurer, Selz, Schwab $ Company

The sale of a case of shoes, under the stress of modem
competition, goes through a perfect scientific process.

One sale is made by the 'Three C' method. This
method includes the planting of three germs : First, the
germ of curiosity; second, the germ of confidence; and
third, the germ of concentration. This forms the basis
upon which the sale is made.

Originally, the salesman was just given his line, after
a bare knowledge of what it was, and told to go into
his territory and get the business. Now it is all changed
the mind of the customer is worked upon with as
much delicacy as though he were being persuaded to
occupy a position to which he had long been opposed.

The salesman forwards to the house every night his
daily report (Form I), on which are indicated "pros-
pects." These must include the best shoe firm in each

At this point, the day after Mr. J. V. Smith's name
is sent in. the rnakinsr of the sale begins. The prospect's
name is at once entered in the prospect file (Form II)
and a series of "promotion letters" are sent out by



the department of publicity. These include a half dozen
or more, depending, of course, on the circumstances; it
is usually the case that a good many letters have to be
sent before Mr. Smith is ready for a visit of the sales-

Arousing Interest in the Customer liy Planting the

Germ of Curiosity

These letters are designed to work up by cumulative
power an interest in our house and our goods. It is
planting the germ of curiosity the germ by which it
is intended to develop Mr. Smith from a prospect to an
actual buyer of shoes and from a buyer to a life-long
customer ; and the principal means used is straight from
the shoulder argument.

We aim to do more than attract his attention; we
want to get him in an argumentative state, to consider
the difference between our house and some other house.
This is the first impression. The second impression is
to get his mind more keenly awakened to this difference.
And the next, and perhaps the last impression, is to get
him to see by the letters that the difference is in favor of
the former. Thus, we plant the germ of curiosity.

Usually these letters, varying always, never fail to
get the prospect sufficiently curious to bring about cor-
respondence and eventually to look for the visit of the

After Mr. Smith has reached the inspection period
the salesman visits him informally. There are two ways
of calling on the man ; to open the line at the hotel, or
to take a grip full of samples to his store. The latter
method ought to be followed in making the first call,
while the former is followed in making the succeeding
calls. The salesman always this is an invariable rule


takes in his grip nothing but what Mr. Smith may be
interested in, as revealed by the series of letters, or
that which the salesman can do better on than some
other house. This is done for the main purpose of
securing an immediate point of contact and not con-
fusing his mind for his attention has previously beem
called to certain grades or styles of shoes; and to show
him something else might confuse him.

As the salesman enters Mr. Smith's store he carries
the particular shoe or style which Mr. Smith may have
referred to in his letter. After the usual salutation
and brief reference to a prior letter he will speak of the
quality and wear of the shoe the one particular brand
of shoe that Mr. Smith has shown a preference for. The
salesman makes no excursion to other fields until he has
exhausted this one shoe. And this one shoe he never
fails to have in his hand. Those in his sample case are
the ones on which the excursion can be made. Thus Mr.
Smith is made acquainted with the shoe he has shown
a liking for.

Comparison the Strong Point in Demonstrating
Shoe Value to the Buyer

The next step is to further convince him by com-
parison. Comparison must be skillfully drawn. The
aim is to further demonstrate the difference between
the shoes of this house and those of some other. So the
particular grade of shoe that Mr. Smith seems to have
liked is placed at once on comparison. To the strong
salesman it is an easy matter to trace with the eye on
the shelves of Mr. Smith's store a shoe which resembles
the shoe in question. The two are placed side by side.
The lining of the shoe carried by the salesman is shown
either to be better in quality, or better stitcher!, or raore




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durable, or the sole and upper to be of a better grade
of leather, or more carefully put together, than the other
shoe. There will always be some distinctive feature
whereby a superiority can be claimed for our shoe.
When Mr. Smith has got this firmly fixed in his mind
there is secured the first foothold.

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Online LibraryGuaranty Trust Company of New YorkPersonal salesmanship .. → online text (page 2 of 8)