There’s little doubt history is loaded with examples of sales people who can be labeled “great” at the game. And, we can learn from them because they personify selling techniques and styles that can be replicated to make one successful, even today.
So says a prolific author named Geoffrey James (www.geoffreyjames.com). He’s written literally hundreds of articles on sales and marketing and he authored “Sales Machine,” a very popular sales-oriented blog. Not long ago, James wrote about eight people he felt illustrated techniques worth employing today. I encourage every sales person in every marine dealership to take a moment and ponder James’ list:
1) Ron Popeil: He’s a legend! He once went live on a home shopping network and sold a million dollars worth of kitchen appliances — in one hour! Popeil is always excited, and shows it, about everything he sells. Such enthusiasm is infectious. You want to buy what he’s selling! Popeil proves it: Success comes from honest enthusiasm for your product!
2) Joe Girard: If you’re in sales, you know this name. He’s the Automotive Hall of Famer that sold 13,001 Chevrolets between 1963 and 1978. His technique was getting people to make an appointment to see him (as opposed to hit or miss walk-ins) so that he could have an assistant research, pre-screen and qualify each customer. The lesson here: Research (know something about) your customer before you sell to them.
3) W. Clement Stone: Selling insurance was his game and he was, arguably, the best ever. It’s said his success was his realization that you need to sell in places where there are people who want to buy. As a newsboy, he sold his papers in restaurants, not the streets, because he saw that’s where people read them. Similarly, he aimed his insurance sales on offices buildings where there were people with money and families they wanted to protect. Stone teaches us: Sell our products in places where there are customers who want to buy them. Our boat shows meet that criterion like no other!
4) Donald Trump: No question about “The Donald’s” success in selling. He’s clearly demonstrated what persistence can do, even in the face of a disaster like bankruptcy. But because he kept plugging, selling what he had to and dealing, he saved his empire and his reputation. His is a poster child for: Keep selling, even when times are tough!
5) Aimee Semple McPherson: Until Aimee came along, evangelical Christianity was mainly “sold” one-to-one or in small groups. She changed the game and raised the stakes when she turned to radio broadcasts and big stadium-sized revivals to reach thousands in one place at one time – exactly the same way exhibiting in the industry’s boat shows reaches thousands in one place for dealers! Her lesson: It never hurts to have a really huge megaphone.
6) Jack LaLanne: He sold the world on healthy dieting and exercise and turned himself into his own testimony. He sold TV shows, health clubs and a myriad of health-related products. LaLanne was his own best advertisement and he proves that a key to sales success isn’t just selling something, but being your own best customer. So, if you want to sell boats, be a boater!
7) Ronald Reagan: He was a political icon for selling ideas. Your politics aside, our 40th President is best remembered as one who explained what he believed and where he intended to go, and then went about convincing people to line up behind him. He was leading the parade. His consistency of message and commitment to always deliver on promises is a true model for us today on how to build long lasting relationships with our customers.
8) Empress Theodora: Never heard of her? Me, neither. But, James dubs her the world’s most successful prostitute (c, 500 – 548). According to her biographer, she rose to prominence as a prostitute by being particularly acrobatic! She eventually became the obsession of a young soldier named Justinian, who married her. He later rose to be the Roman Emperor – which made her, sort of, the co-ruler of the civilized world. Here’s the idea: Sell to the right customer . . . and you can live off the repeat business! How true.