Ed. The 50’s were a unique era – so buttoned-down and yet so ready to morph violently into the 60’s. But some things never morph, and good sales fundamentals are one of them. Keith Thompson found this out when he read an old business book bought at a garage sale and found many of the same principles he’s incorporated into his groundbreaking work on sales automation. I wonder if he was listening to Buddy Holly while he read it?
For a previous entry, I had to dig around in some dusty areas of my sales library to determine what’s not found in books about sales. The oldest sales book that I found was part of a series of twenty volumes called Modern Business, dating from 1958. I had bought them for $5 from our next door neighbor’s garage sale many, many years ago. His wife had made him toss them out, and my wife was mad at me for buying them (they require three feet of shelf space).
Although I consider 1958 as almost yesterday, these books are over fifty years old. Most of the people I work with at SalesWays were not yet born then (except John, of course, who is so old they didn’t have water when he was growing up and they had to mix their own oxygen and hydrogen).
In 1958, I was living in the U.K. Buddy Holly had recorded That’ll Be The Day in 1957. Elvis topped the U.S charts for three months. The Beatles were listening to both, and they would do their own great thing five years later. I was not thinking at all about sales. But somebody was, because the volume called Salesmanship has a lot of good stuff in it.
When I wrote Sales Automation Done Right, I had not read these books—they had been gathering dust, waiting for my wife’s next garage sale. There are some gems here, and now there is no way that I will ever let them go. Here are just a few of the ideas that are just as appropriate in 2013, fifty-five years on from when they were written:
- When one accepts the idea that selling is a process, he has started on the right path.
- While selling seems to be primarily an art, it still has certain aspects of a science. . . as a science, it requires the mastery of certain fundamentals which have evolved from success by others.
- In selling your product, a prospect needs conviction if you would close him.
- Analyzing a sales opportunity. If a sales opportunity arises, it is important that you carefully study it before reaching a conclusion as to whether you should make an effort to take an advantage of it.
- Value of planning. In the process of selling, planning plays a major role . . .
Of course, the most influential factor in the progress of sales is not mentioned in Salesmanship. The technology of the personal computer gained universal adoption in sales almost 40 years later and has continued to evolve and become even more intrinsic to our work.
The sea change that this brought about drives the discussion in much of the material you will find here on The HUB.