wanted on your Universal dictionary.'
He stared at me in surprise. That was what I
wanted. If he read Mr. 's letter merely intro-
ductory as it was it would take ten minutes to bring
him back to the mood I found him in. The Universal
had been extensively advertised. Mr. Ripley, I knew,
understood that no other dictionary approached it in
value as a reference work. To rehearse my talking points
would be to tire him and lose the sale.
I whipped out my sample bindings and laid them out
"Mr. Morton got a good deal of fun out of choosing
his binding the other day, ' ' I remarked in casual fashion.
Mr. Morton since secretary of the navy and now presi-
dent of the Equitable Life was vice-president of the
Santa Fe at the time. I calculated my effect in mention-
ing his name, but omitted to point out the binding he
In five minutes Mr. Ripley and I together had come
to a pretty clear conception of the Universal 's merits.
Then I switched the talk back to the bindings.
"What binding did Morton take?" he finally asked.
That settled it. In three minutes more, I had Mr.
Ripley 's check for the same binding and a line of vig-
orous approval for the dictionary.
GETTING PAST THE OUTPOST 55
Nothing is so fatal to the morale of a canvassing crew
as the discovery that certain men can't be approached
much less sold. The old stagers learn to discount such
repulses, but the youngsters lose heart and begin to
tackle their easiest prospects with an apology in their
eyes. The only way to break up a "losing streak >! ' like
this is to demonstrate their mistake and show that the
captain in his citadel can be reached.
The Moral Effect of Getting Next to the "Impossible'
During our Universal dictionary canvass of Chicago
this ominous "can't be seen' ; had been checked up
against the name of one of the most noted physician-
surgeons of the city. Busy doctors are always hard to
see, but this man had an office attendant who was almost
psychic in her analysis of visitors' errands: At one of
our evening "experience' meetings, the erew manager
brought up Dr. 's name and wanted to know why
we had fallen down on him. Six men who had failed ex-
plained the ingenuity and decision of the attendant. She
was simply unbeatable, they agreed.
"Unbeatable, eh?" The crew manager sniffed.
"Here, Blank," he thrust the doctor's prospect card at
me "go and see Dr. tomorrow. Bring back his
order or his name on this card to teach these young
gentlemen that any man alive 'can be seen.'
The reports of the youngsters satisfied me that
ordinary approach would land me in the physician's
inner office. I would have to bluff my way past the
clairvoyant attendant. I took my cue from the doc-
tor's penchant for surgery.
There were a dozen women waiting in the reception
room whea I entered. Quick action was imperative.
56 HOW TO HANDLE THE BUYER
If I waited my turn, the girl with the memorandum pad
would learn my entire pedigree, back to Castle Garden.
"I am Mr. Blank," I told her quietly, but with pre-
tence of hurry. "Ask Dr. if he will see me for
a minute about that operation."
4 ' That operation ? " she asked with poised pencil.
' ' He '11 understand, ' ' I assured her, ' ' I 'm sorry I can 't
wait, and I ? 11 only take a minute. '
She hesitated, but a patient came out of the inner
office. She went in. Ten seconds later Dr. was
in the doorway, trying to recall me. He couldn't, of
course. He beckoned me. I gave his hand a vigorous
squeeze as we crossed the threshold. At that instant,
even, I didn't know how I should handle him. His first
word might give me my clue.
"That operation?" he inquired, briskly professional.
I had to answer.
"The operation" my smile was as ingenuous as I
could make it "by which, with the Standard's help,
you amputate five dollars a month from your bank ac-
count and graft the Universal dictionary on your
For five seconds he bristled. I hung on to my smile.
Then the saving crinkles appeared at the corners of his
eyes. My audacity amused him. He laughed. He
dropped into his chair so hard the spring broke. I
helped him up and brushed him off. He was still
"You're the seventh, aren't you?' he asked.
"The vital number," I suggested. "You know all
about the Universal. You know you need it. '
"Not to find the definition of impudence,' he re-
torted. But he took my pen and signed the order slip.
"How much now?" he asked.
GETTING PAST THE OUTPOST 57
" Nine dollars."
He gave me a ten-dollar bill. I pocketed it.
"They'd expel me from the union if I gave you back
that dollar," I explained.
He laughed again. He shook hands warmly at the
door and the attendant looked relieved. The crew man-
ager kept that order on the bulletin board for a month
much, I fancy, as the Romans displayed the rostra of
captured galleys on the orator's platform in the Forum.
Running Down the Man Who Has Authority
Most exasperating of all "prospects" is the little-great
man, without true initiative, that salesmen find in every
large corporation. He has authority but is too timid or
too lazy to use it until he has sounded the men "higher
up ' ' and learned their opinion. Often too, he dodges de-
cision altogether rather than bring up the matter with
his superiors. I call him a "shadow of a great man' :
because he is as fleeting, as hard to pin down, as the
shadow that walks abroad with his master.
I wasted four days and endless patience trying to
sell a mechanical money-counter to officials of the Elkins-
Wardner syndicate for use by their various street rail-
ways. Shunted about from department to department
until I grew dizzy, nowhere could I find a man who
would say "yes" or "no" to my machine. I rounded on
the last mani
"This thing has a throne somewhere," I said. "Who
sits on it?"
"Mr. B ," he answered, "but you can't see him.'
Couldn't I? The great man had one secretary guard-
ing him. It was easy to walk in on him when the secre-
tary was absent or on an errand.
58 HOW TO HANDLE THE BUYER
' ' I could save your companies a lot of money, time and
labor,' I explained as he looked up, "if I could only
find some man to do business with. I've talked four
days to your high-priced officials, but every one thinks
a decision is his neighbor's job. I didn't come here to
talk sales to you, Mr. B , but I do want to know
who 's who. '
"You must want 'em to spend money,' 1 he said,
"What have you got? Money counters?' He thought
an instant. "We use counting boards. Better see Mr.
S at ten tomorrow.'
Mr. S had not returned to his office by noon
next day. He was, I had discovered, a protege of one
of the big men in the combination. But an appointment
is an appointment.
"Tell Mr. S ," I warned his stenographer, "that
I '11 be here at ten tomorrow and that I '11 expect him also
to be here to talk to me. If he isn't, I'll ask Mr. B
what business he has to make engagements for his em-
ployees if they won't keep them.'
Mr. S 's ten o'clock mood wasn't particularly
amiable next day, but I emphasized the fact that Mr.
B had referred me to him for a decision. I didn't
let him know that Mr. B had not seen my machine.
Indeed, he already had the impression that his chief was
' ' What can you do ? " he asked.
* Give me a bag full of quarters, nickels or dimes and
I'll show you.'
The coins were brought. In fifty-nine seconds the
machine completed the count. Nine hundred and ninety-
nine one coin was thrown out. It was a counterfeit,
which had passed the syndicate's cashiers.
GETTING PAST THE OUTPOST 59
"I'll have to think this matter over," Mr. S said
after I had put the machine through all its paces.
"Come in tomorrow.'
S was the type of man who prides himself on his
decision. He wouldn't want the chief to know that he
would hesitate over the adoption of a machine which had
made good as my counter had. I acted on that as-
"I've spent five days here already," I reminded him.
"If you can't give me a trial order for five machines
without further delay, I'll be obliged to go up to Mr.
B and ask him for the order. '
My reading of his character was correct. He weak-
ened; sent for bags of nickels, dimes and pennies for
another trial to save his face. The machine counted
them without slip.
"I guess we'll try five," he conceded and reached for
my fountain pern,
BELIEVE in knowing just what I
am doing and where I hope to land .
I always strive to make others strive
for something a little farther ahead, but
I always know the exact point which I
hope to attain, and I have figured out
the steps I must take to reach that
point. Walter H. Cottingham.
BY W. A. WATERBURY
Sales Manager, A. B. Dick Company
No salesman should go into the field expecting &o make
a success of selling any article unless he feels himself
competent to defend it and meet the objections that are
sure to be raised against it. For the prospective cus-
tomer's best rebuff his surest attack upon the sales-
man's argument is a strong objection. If the salesman
can meet it immediately and effectively he has gained a
strong point, but if he hesitates or falls down entirely,
the chances are that he will lose every inch of advantage
he has previously gained.
To the salesman who is prepared, an objection is al
'vays a welcome opening, for it gives him an insight
into the prospect's line of thought and enables the sales-
man to meet him on his own ground.
Although salesmen sometimes attempt it, I think it
is a mistake to ignore any objection raised by a pros-
pect. In the first place it is a dangerous thing to do,
for most business men are shrewd enough to recognize
any such evasion as a weakness in the salesman 's propo-
sition. It is far better to clear up every point as it is
raised and defend your goods to the last ditch.
ANSWERING OBJECTIONS 61
I believe the best policy to follow in handling objec-
tions is to show yourself always perfectly willing to
discuss them, but to make them in each case appear as
trivial as possible, leading back to the strong points and
making them overweigh any possible weak ones.
If an objection is raised to which you know you can
make reply, do not hesitate for a minute to clear up the
situation in fact, it is best to give the prospective cus-
tomer the impression that the point is one that you
simply had not yet come to in your sales argument.
Knowledge of Goods an Absolute Essential to Tieady
Meeting of Objections
Know your goods so well and be so sure of your posi-
tion that for every objection made you can simply say :
"I am glad you brought this up at this point I see you
are following closely and I like to meet a man who is
sufficiently interested to think for himself. Now, one
special feature of our proposition will commend itself
to you in this very particular. '
A favorite scheme of prospects is to bring up the good
points of rival products. Often this is for no other
reason than to start the salesman in an attack upon his
competitors a thing which, if he is wise, he will avoid
whenever possible. Every salesman should aim to be as
well posted on the points of other products as on his
own, so that when compelled to defend his goods in a
comparison he will be qualified to do so, but he should
never enter into such a discussion unless he is forced
into it by the persistency of the prospect.
The salesman's best training for answering objections
he can obtain only from his own work. Each day dur-
ing his first experience in handling an article, he is con-
fronted with some new obstacle. The first time he meets
62 HOW TO HANDLE THE BUYEE
it lie must answer it extemporaneously, from his gen-
eral knowledge of his product. But he at once sets
about to fortify himself so thoroughly on that particular
point that when it next arises he will have every possible
answer to it at his tongue's end.
In time, through his own experience and the inter-
change of ideas with other salesmen in his line, he will
have become familiar with practically every objection
he will be called upon to meet and also with the most
effective way of answering them, and turning them to
his own benefit.
But the greatest advantage of knowing the objections
in advance is that it enables the salesman to anticipate
them. Knowing exactly the points arising in the pros-
pect's mind, he can sweep them aside at the very begin-
ning of his argument, leaving a firm foundation on
which to go ahead with his constructive talk.
Disarming the Prospect's Opposition by Anticipating
Thus a salesman introducing a new book on business
or a new office system, knows that three out of four men
will maintain that they do not need it because they
know how to run their own business and have prospered
for years without such assistance. Anticipating this,
the salesman in his introductory talk shatters the objec-
tion before it is brought up by saying:
"Now I want to say in the very beginning, Mr. Brown,
that I do not come here with any attempt to tell you
how to run your business; I can't do it. I don't be-
lieve anybody else can. You are the man who under-
stands most perfectly the conditions of your business;
therefore you, yourself, are most capable of devising
methods to meet those conditions.
ANSWERING OBJECTIONS 63
"But we do believe that you or any other business
man develops his operating plans easier, quicker and
better if he can draw upon the practical ideas and ex-
periences of other concerns/
This disarms the prospect of his most personal objec-
tion and at the same time constitutes an excellent intro-
duction to his actual proposition.
One thing to remember is that while most business
men are shrewd enough to recognize readily the advan-
tages of an article, the average prospect wants things sim-
ply explained. His comprehension is best reached by
citing illustrations in his own business, drawing apt
metaphors and similes he will quickly understand. Mair*
times there is no more effective answer to an objection
than an anecdote that fits the case, preferably draws
from an experience with another ""ealer in the prospect's
Salesman Must Use His Own Judgment in Each
Of course, the salesman must learn to answer each ob-
jection as the individual circumstance demands. Some
must be met directly, some by drawing the prospect's at-
tention to other selling points calculated to overcome
his reluctance. At times, however, an apparently un-
answerable objection can be turned into an argument
to clinch the order.
"I had a big St. Louis manufacturer on my can-
vassing list/' said a salesman who was selling an office
appliance. *I found him approachable, stirred his in-
terest in my machine and got away with the promise of
a definite answer the following week.
"When I called on the day appointed, I felt his am-
tagonism when he acknowledged my 'good morning.' He
54 HOW TO HAJNuui^ THE BUYER
didn't keep me in doubt as to the reason, but handed
me a late issue of one of the appliance trade jour-
nals. Slashing blue-pencil lines indicated a two-column
attack on a certain alleged defect in our product. The
writer's name carried no weight, but his treatment was
exhaustive. He even made bold to compare the article
in that particular detail with other machines.
"I galloped through the article and took forty seconds
to decide what I should do. There was no dodging the
issue. I must meet it.
" 'That's fine,' I said, dropping the paper carelessly
on his desk. ' That strikes me as about the best advertise-
mpnt the Peerless has received. It's a pity they didn't
run that article in some paper of general circulation. '
" 'How do you make that out?' he demanded.
" 'Why, Mr. Jones, can't you see that article cost
somebody a dollar a line?' I pretended astonishment
myself. 'Let's analyze this thing. We're selling the
Peerless strictly on its merits. The only way our com-
petitors can block sales is to knock, knock keep on
knocking. In this case three or four experts in different
lines spent weeks or months studying our machine look-
ing for weak spots to attack.
" 'What do they find? With all their labor, they dis-
cover one feature in two hundred with which to find
fault. If they had spotted more they would be listed
in this two-hundred-dollar space purchased to pourd
the Peerless. I don't like to admit that some concerns
do such things, Mr. Jones, but I must leave it to your
business sense to decide whether I'm speaking the truth
or not whether this paper would print such an attack
unless it were paid for, every line. '
" 'And I'd like to ask you, Mr. Jones,' I knew I had
him all but convinced, ' if you can imagine a testi-
ANSWERING OBJECTIONS 65
monial stronger than this criticism of the Peerless by
its enemies one point in two hundred to which they
"He almost apologized as he wrote the check. He
gave me letters of introduction to several friends, and I
sold four other machines on the strength of them.'
Showing the Prospect that a Fixed Price Cannot be
Changed Under Any Conditions
Probably the point on which more objections are made
than any other is the matter of price. If you have a
fixed price for the article you sell, resolve when you
enter a man's office that you will name that price when
the proper point in the sales talk comes and that you
will stick to it. Do not argue the matter, and what is
more, give the prospect to understand that the price is
one point that you can not debate. Assure him of the
quality of the article, its adaptability to his require-
ments and the service that you can give in the matter
of delivery, but make him feel that the price is some*
thing that you the salesman have no authority to alter
under any circumstances.
As a case in point, I recall an incident told me by
a salesman who was handling a well known standard
dictionary. "I spent three months/ 1 he said, "coaxing
a Kansas City banker to buy my dictionary. He was
cold blooded, analytical, a * trader' of the old-fashioned
bargaining sort, but he appreciated honesty and a square
deal. I finally secured his interest and he promised
to think the matter over and asked me to call again.
:< I called again again on an average twice or
thrice a week for three months. Sometimes he'd give
me a nod, other times five minutes' talk, but nerer an
order. Once he asked the net cash price $84.05.
66 HOW TO HANDLE THE BUYER
"So things went on until my final week in the city.
One of these last mornings I breezed in with more than
my usual stock of confidence, told him I was cleaning
up and wanted his order. He went out to the cashier's
desk and brought back a bunch of bills. He counted it
eighty dollars and handed it to me. I counted it.
" 'I'll take your dictionary,' he said.
'I'm afraid you've made a mistake, Mr. Smith,' I
suggested, 'the price is $84.05.'
" 'That's what I'll give,' he said. 'You can take it
or leave it.'
' ' Of course, I had to leave it.
"The morning I quit town, I determined to run up
and have another try at Mr. Smith. I told him I was
" 'My only regret,' I said, 'is that I haven't your name
on my Kansas City list. I'm rather proud of that list.
There 's still time to add your name, Mr. Smith. '
" 'You know what I told you,' he replied.
"I had figured out long before that he was honest
and liked frankness. It was just the trading instinct
that kept him haggling over that four-five.
" 'Yes, I know what you told me,' I answered, 'and I
know that what Mr. James E. Smith says he means. If
a customer comes asking an accommodation, you tell
him right away what you can do and stick to that de-
cision, because it's based on square dealing and what
experience tells you is safe dealing. You've got no
sliding scale to take advantage of the necessities of cus-
tomers. It's true, isn't it, Mr. Smith, that the reputa-
tion of your bank has been built on this principle?' 1
" 'It is,' he assented.
" 'The paper and the publishers I represent' right
here I warmed up in earnest 'have built up reputa-
ANSWERING OBJECTIONS 67
tions of their own by strict adherence to this same idea
of square dealing. When I quoted $84.05, as the price
of the books, it was as final as your decision on a loan.
If you will tell me, Mr. Smith, that you're not asking
me to break the very rule which has made yours the
biggest national bank west of St. Louis and Mr. Smith
its head, I'll take your eighty dollars.'
"For half a minute a long time under such circum-
stances he was silent. Then he looked up.
' ' ' How much did you say ? ' he asked.
" 'Eighty-four dollars and five cents,' I replied.
"In silence he filled out a check and pushed it across
the table. It was for eighty-four dollars flat.
"I stood up and laid the check in front of him.
'Good-bye, Mr. Smith,' I said.
" 'Do you mean you want that nickel?' he gasped.
" 'Yes,' I declared, 'without that nickel your eighty-
four dollars are no good.'
" 'All right,' he returned with a grin. He dug down
into his trousers pocket and brought out the coin. 'I
guess your blamed dictionary must be worth the price. '
No salesman in meeting his prospect's objections
should ever lower his own dignity or step out of the
position he assumes when he enters the office. If your
customer maintains that he is over-stocked, or that it
is too late or too early to buy, don't try to coax him
into giving you an order. Back up every request for
an order with convincing reason why he ought to buy
The most effective argument is invariably that one
which shows the prospect how he can either save or
make money. Base your talk on his bank account and
you will score your strongest point. Thus, the most
effective answer to his plea for delay is a clear state-
HOW TO HANDLE THE BUYER
ment of fact and figures showing him that delay means
loss of money. If he has admitted the quality of your
goods, has recognized them as a money-maker, then he
has practically admitted that every day he puts off
buying them, he deprives himself of a certain profit.
Impress this on him in your strongest manner and con-
centrate your energies at the same time on sweeping
away clear every objection he has thrown around your
goods. Then get his signature. Remember that you are
out for business, not promises, and that his "next time"
is worth nothing compared with an order landed now.
The Basis of Enthusiasm
IT is selling good goods, goods in
which you have faith, goods that you
think are going to make the world bet-
ter that gives the whole game a gist
Here is the thing in a nutshell merit
begets confidence, confidence begets
enthusiasm, and enthusiasm conquers
Walter H. Cottingham.
Landing the Order
Circumstances are tools to an able agent's hand. Big
men are cast in individual molds therefore attack and
appeal in each case must be different, adapted to the
man. Peculiar methods must be used in approaching
them original methods in selling them.
They pursue new ideas. To pique their curiosity, in-
terest, personal pride, then, is to fix their dynamic brains
for the moment on the proposition you are presenting.
This is at once dangerous and profitable. Experience
and training fit them to smash through any flimsy, stereo-
typed assault on their attention and bank balance.
The fighting instinct is rarely lacking among men who
occupy seats of the business mighty and hypnotic power
is never in a book agent's bag of tricks. His failures,
then, are frequently distressing. For sometimes points
of contact seem wholly lacking at least he cannot find
one. There are men who demand experience and amuse-
ment at first hand. They insist on playing with ele-
mental things and ignore the knowledge locked up in
books. John W. Gates is one of these auto-investiga-
tors. Canvassing him was one of my Waterloos.
My newspaper card flushed him it gave no hint of
my. connection with the business office. A moment after
70 HOW TO HANDLE THE BUYER
my name went to him his office door opened, he stepped
quickly to the railing and eyed me across the narrow
ante-room of his Rookery suite.
"Where's B ?" he demanded. B , I learned
later, was my newspaper's financial editor. "Doesn't
your editor know I'll not talk to a reporter I don't
The fat was in the fire anyway. I jumped after it.
"I'm not a reporter," I said, with an assumption of