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How To Master Creative Selling


FOUR : How to Create a Sale

SOME YEARS AGO, a man hired the Opera House in a small Pennsylvania town for one night, but engaged no ush- ers or other staff. About a month before the date for which he had rented the hall, he put a large sign on the most prominent billboard in town, stating in huge letters: "HE IS COMING!" A week before the fateful night this was replaced by: "HE WILL BE AT THE OPERA HOUSE THURSDAY NIGHT, OCTOBER 15th, AT 8:30!" That night, the man himself sat in the box office and sold tickets at $1 a head to a capacity audience. When the lights went up inside, however, all that the crowd could see was a huge sign reading: "HE IS GONE!" All the principles of selling are wrapped up in this story. Attention was gained. Interest was developed. Desire was stimulated. The prospect was convinced to act, and to "close the deal" by buying a ticket. I do not recommend this procedure, but the principles applied contain the basic elements necessary to create a sale. In this chapter, let us unfold and develop these principles and endeavor to learn how to apply them to create a sale or to improve our present Sales Plan. When I was sixteen years old, which was over 42 years ago, I began to sell. I am still at it. In fact, I get more real pleasure and enjoyment out of it today then ever before. Selling furnishes me with a modern school and a complete laboratory that is made up of living people, and affords me the opportunity to study every phase of human behavior and to understand the relations that exist in the varying aspects of selling. When you analyze selling, and especially creative selling, you find that you are dealing with the greatest and most interesting thing in the world. You are dealing with ideas and thoughts. By the application of ideas and thoughts, man has the ability to create. He creates by the power of an invisible idea. It is an invisible idea before it is a visible thing. It must be a thought before it can be a product or service. Therefore, if man has the capacity and ability to create a product or service by the means of an invisible idea, it must stand to reason that he has the power to create a sale, and to establish a market for that product or service. This is the line of reasoning that I have always followed, and it has never failed. I know from my experience that a man can create a demand and a market for anything, even for a product that never existed before. 

A Good Sales Plan Can Create a Market

In my experience I have sold many different things. I have sold advertising, paint, cement roofing, oil, varnish, directories, patent churns, electrical appliances, washing machines, books, entertainment, billboard advertising, tooth paste, shoes, tailor-made suits, and all kinds of insurance, including life insurance. Strange as it may seem, it has always been necessary for me to create a market, or a demand, for everything that I sold. It entailed the power of creative selling. It was either create a sale or starve. In selling, it was never a question of prospects—I always had more prospects than I possibly could see. My problem was to cover the available prospects effectively and efficiently. To do this, it was necessary to have a good sales approach. Therefore, I spent many hours in preparing and creating a good, concrete Sales Plan, around the product or service that I was endeavoring to sell. This Sales Plan needed the qualities and attributes to attract the attention of the prospect, to arouse his interest, and to stimulate his desire. It also had to have the dynamic power to convince, and to motivate and impel the prospect to act. This Sales Plan had to center the prospect's thought on my proposition to the exclusion of all others. 

Gain Your Prospect's Interest by Showing Interest in Him

In selling, I try to remember that the prospect is in his office or place of business, has never seen or heard of me, and naturally is not interested in me. Therefore, the only possible way for him to become interested in me is for me to become interested in him. The only way I can interest him is to call his attention, in no uncertain terms, to some- thing that will add to his happiness, his health, or his wealth. After all, there are only three important things connected with a sale: You, the product, and the prospect. In geometry you are taught that a straight line is the shortest distance between two points. In selling, the shortest distance between you and the prospect is a sale. A Sales Plan shortens this distance. It is easy to get an audience with the prospect, but your mission as a creative salesman is to do business with him and have him as a customer. To achieve this objective, you must hit the bulls-eye. Your gun may be the best and your powder the finest, but if your gun doesn't have a bullet, then it is certain that you are not going to hit the bulls-eye. The bulls-eye in selling is the sale, and your bullet is a prepared Sales Plan. It is absolutely impossible for you to give the prospect all the knowledge and information you possess about your product. He would not be able to grasp your meaning or to understand what you were trying to do for him. You would confuse him, and instead of making a sale you would possibly encounter an ignominious defeat. There- fore, the most common-sense thing for you to do is to take the best parts of the knowledge and information about your product and shape it into a prepared Sales Plan. In this way you avoid giving him the knowledge and information in a haphazard, hit-or-miss way, but you give it to him in a scientifically planned way. I had prepared and successfully used many different Sales Plans to sell many different products before entering the life insurance business. However, I wondered how in the world I could sell a life insurance proposition with only a rate book to show to my prospects. To me, this rate book was the key to a large safe deposit box, containing millions of dollars in cash assets that could instantly be shared in many different plans of life insurance. But my problem was to convince my prospects of this. Because I had been successful in gaining the attention of prospects about many other products that I had sold, I firmly believed that they would listen to me about a life insurance proposition. After all, the prospects who buy all the other products are the same prospects who buy life insurance. 

You Must Plant Ideas to Harvest Sales

Selling is a good deal like farming. In farming, the farmer must plant the seed. He knows that he must sow before he can reap. The farmer and the salesman are alike. The farmer plants seeds. The salesman plants ideas. Your ideas, like seeds, will never grow a crop unless they are planted. The salesman reaps as he sows. The more ideas he sows, the more sales he will reap. Therefore, I realized that in order to reap a harvest of life insurance sales I must sow a crop of life insurance ideas. I also realized that these ideas must convey to the prospect the real value of life insurance and the advantages that it meant to him and his family. They must satisfy the prospect's sense of caution, security, and safety. Therefore, it was necessary to create a Sales Plan around the needs of the prospect, conveying the idea that life insurance would satisfy those needs. In building and creating this Sales Plan, I studied life insurance from every angle. Not a phase was overlooked. I sought every available source for knowledge and information. I read every book that I could find on the subject. I compared all major companies. I analyzed all important types of policies, including term insurance, ordinary insurance, 20-payment life insurance, all kinds of endowment life insurance, all forms of annuities, and all forms of retirement income plans. I reckoned with mortality tables, compound interest tables, life expectancy tables, cash reserves, disability clauses, and tables and clauses for optional settlements. I studied the protection that life insurance affords to partnerships, executives of corporations, and the interests of individual proprietors. I searched tax laws relating to estates, wills, and trusts. I familiarized myself with inheritance tax laws, both state and Federal. The social, economic, and financial aspects of life insurance were carefully weighed, analyzed, and considered. 

Get the Facts, Then Study Your Prospect

I found that the institution of life insurance was one of the sustaining pillars of our American economy, and it was worthy of the attention of any prospect. After getting thoroughly saturated with all the knowledge pertaining to life insurance, I began to study the prospect. Where does he fit in? Where is his place in this great network of economic, social, and financial relations? I found that the whole system of life insurance was set up for one purpose only, and that was to serve the needs of the prospect. A life insurance policy was a declaration of financial independence, embodying guarantees that would solve the prospect's family problems, help him to solve his estate problems, help him to solve his retirement problems, and help him to realize his hopes, ambitions, and needs. The prospect was not aware of all the wonderful things that life insurance could do for him. I must tell him. In creating this Sales Plan for life insurance, I felt I had a lot in common with the prospect. I knew he had a family, a home, a job, and, in all probability, a lot of unfulfilled desires. I appreciated one great fact about the prospect: he was a rational human being with problems and needs and would listen to an appeal on how to meet them, based on common sense and reason. Therefore, with a good understanding of life insurance, and with the prospect as the center of interest, I fitted a life insurance policy about his shoulders. I made it talk. I made it reveal its benefits and what they meant to him and his family. This is the Sales Plan I created. In this Sales Plan I refer to the prospect as "Mr. Doe" and the insurance company as "Every Man's Life Insurance Company/' 

How to Present Your Sales Plan

I call on Mr. Doe and say in a friendly and positive way, "Mr. Doe, my name is Earl Prevette." I pronounce my name very distinctly, then proceed: "Every Man's Life Insurance Company is offering a combination life insurance and investment plan to business and professional men. Mr. Doe, this plan does four definite things for you." Then I enumerate these things as follows: "First: This plan immediately creates for you and your family an estate. This estate, Mr. Doe, is unlike most estates. It never depreciates in value, and is always worth 100 cents on the dollar. It is free from all liens, mortgages, and liabilities. This estate can be administered for your family so as to be exempt from certain taxation. "Second: This plan establishes a savings account for you after the second year. A very valuable feature of this savings account, Mr. Doe, is that it is always available. It stands at your elbow ready at a moment's notice to furnish you with ready cash to cover any unforeseen contingencies, or to meet any emergencies that might arise. "Third: This plan pays all future deposits for you, in the event that you should become totally disabled through any kind of disease or accident. This guarantees your estate and keeps your savings intact. "Fourth: This plan makes it possible for you, Mr. Doe, to retire with an income for life at any age between fifty and sixty-five. This income will be guaranteed to you as long as you live, with absolute assurance that every dollar invested in the plan will be returned, either to you or to your beneficiaries." This Sales Plan contains approximately 200 words and re- quires about one and one-half minutes to deliver. It gives an idea of the benefits of life insurance. It is a true and concise statement of fact. It does not attempt to define life insurance, with its many technical terms. On the other hand, it presents a very comprehensive picture of what life insurance will do for the prospect and his family, and does it in a very understandable way. It is spoken in his language, and he understands it immediately. He quickly senses that this plan is an opportunity to do some real things for himself and family. By taking on the plan, he feels he will be adding to his family's welfare and to his own happiness and peace of mind. The prospect says to himself, "An estate for the family— a savings account for an emergency—an income for the breadwinner. What more does a man want?" 

The Importance of the Right Word in the Right Place

Plain everyday words are the most effective. Words spoken in the prospect's own language are subtle and indestructible forces that get under his skin. They make him feel the idea is his own. They penetrate his intellect. They persuade and convince him to buy your product. Every word in the Sales Plan should be studied, weighed, and analyzed from every standpoint. Has it the proper meaning? Will it get over to the prospect the right idea? Has it carrying qualities? By analyzing and considering words in this fashion, you can select the right word for the right place. The words in your Sales Plan that convey the value of the product are the impelling and motivating forces that create a sale. Spoken in a cheerful and optimistic tone, they make it easy for the prospect to say yes. It is surprising how the little things count in selling. The old saying goes, "Anyone can see the boulders, but it's the little pebbles that throw you." The little things—like using the right word in the right place, cultivating a friendly attitude, a pleasant voice, an agreeable disposition, and a high regard for the prospect—will make the sales approach much smoother and easier. I never try to display how smart I am. I always approach my prospects in a spirit of humility, as one who comes to serve. As long as I give this Sales Plan humbly, it has power and punch, and it gets results. It is all right to be wise, but do not tell the prospect. Al- ways give the prospect credit for knowing as much as you do. It does not pay to try to bluff him. He can usually tell brass from gold. Answer all of his objections, and hand them back to him in the form of suggestions. Let him have his own way. Practice what the Bible says: "Agree with thine adversary quickly." Remember: "He who treads softly goes far." 

How to Build Your Sales Plan Scientifically

It is a very simple process to build a Sales Plan scientifically. It is like building a house. It must be planned. A mass of material thrown together will not build a house. Every brick, every plank, and every nail must have its place. The same is true in building a Sales Plan. Every word, every thought, and every sentence must have its place. A Sales Plan is organized knowledge, which states the reasons why the prospect should buy your product. The most scientific way to create a Sales Plan is to get all your material together, get all the facts, and find out every- thing you possibly can about your product. Investigate its history, background, economic relation, and the part it plays in life. Analyze these data, catalogue them, classify them, organize them, define them, and refine them. Then take the best parts and translate them into the needs of the prospect. Include in this Sales Plan anything that will improve the prospect's business, anything that will increase his wealth, anything that will contribute to his welfare, anything that will add to his peace of mind, or anything that will enrich his happiness. Present your Sales Plan in sequence, enumerate each point step by step, and try to use meaty words which evoke pictures. Speak in concrete terms, not in abstract phrases. Make your Sales Plan brief, concise, direct, definite, forceful, and understandable. Season it with the savor of personal interest, flavor it with the spice of enthusiasm, and sweeten it with the sugar of kindness. 

The Power of Thought Forces

Thought forces in your Sales Plan that reveal the merits of your product, its qualities, its values, and what it means to the prospect are not mere indefinite abstractions. On the contrary, thought forces are vital, living forces, the most vital, subtle, and irresistible forces in selling. These thought forces give your sales approach color, form, essence, sub- stance, and the spirit of power and dynamic force. They clarify and define the product with simplicity. They give the product a meaning. They make the prospect feel that he will gain by buying and lose by not buying. This Sales Plan makes the prospect feel about the product the same way you feel. It carries a message of fact. It persuades and convinces. It is the bullet in your "gun." It puts the sale "in the bag." A Sales Plan should not be over one and a half minutes long, and should contain about 200 words. A scientifically prepared Sales Plan will increase and improve your ability to attract. It will increase your knowledge and give you a more comprehensive understanding of your product. It will revolutionize your sales procedure. It will revitalize you. It will rekindle your enthusiasm. It will in- spire confidence. It will give you greater courage and a keener zest to go after business. It will distinguish you. It will mark you as one that knows his business. It will register you in the Blue Book of Salesmen. 

To be Continued...