14 Points of Salesmanship

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14 Points of Salesmanship

How many points of salesmanship are there? Given the seemingly countless number of sales scenarios you and your staff may experience, determining an exact number is unlikely.

Modern Tire Dealer is submitting 14 points for your approval. The twist? They appeared in the November 1919 issue of our magazine!

Here is the original article, written in the language of the times by R.E. Wilson, assistant instructor of the Traveling Sales Schools of the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.

When reading No. 11, keep in mind that the largest independent tire chain in the U.S., Discount Tire, has used the word “cheap” in its advertising for many years. “Cheap is a good word,” says Discount Tire Chairman Bruce Halle, the 2014 Tire Dealer of the Year. “We don’t say inexpensive prices, we say cheap prices, even now. I think it’s great.”

After reading the 14 points of salesmanship, let us know what you think by checking out the story on and leaving a comment!

  1. Knowledge. Probably the most important requisite the buyer expects of the salesman (the salesman on the road, the counter salesman, and the clerk at the order desk) is that he should know thoroughly about the goods he is trying to sell and be able to answer questions asked him relative to the history, manufacture, distribution and uses of his product.
  2. Sincerity. It is of the utmost importance to convey the impression of sincerity; that nothing is said which is not meant nor believed. It is first necessary to thoroughly sell oneself to be 100% efficient in selling others.
  3. Impression. A proposition stated in clear and concise manner without undue emphasis upon entertaining conversation relative to the weather, brand of cigars smoked or results of the ball game, will quickly give the prospect a clear understanding of the situation outlined to him.
  4. Appearance. Owing to the importance of first impressions, a distinct advantage is gained by being well groomed, but not over-groomed. The element of personal appearance is invariably, even though unconsciously, taken into consideration in any transaction. Health and personality create confidence.
  5. Buyer’s name. One of the first factors entering into successful selling is ability to remember the name of the person with whom one is talking. Where a natural gift of remembering names and faces is lacking, this can be acquired by concentration and the use of a notebook.
  6. Arguments. Much antagonism may be avoided by pulling with the stream rather than against it. It is more diplomatic to emphasize the points of agreement and show a man wherein he is right than to show him where he is wrong. This avoids argument and getting away from the point of issue.
  7. Promises. A promise broken, even though a small one, creates an impression of being undependable. An appointment made for eight o’clock in the morning should mean eight o’clock and not eight-five. Where unavoidably detained it is much the wisest course to wire the reason for the delay. Few promises and those absolutely observed go a long way in inspiring confidence.
  8. Optimism. To radiate optimism rather than pessimism is often times half the battle. To be most successful, one must not only have a thorough knowledge of products and policies and be familiar with the most scientific methods of merchandising, but must be thoroughly sold on his own work, believe in what he says, in what he sells, and above all put the right spirit into his work, thinking of successes and failures only as stepping stones. Do not think of failures as instances of hard luck, nor talk about them.
  9. Dangerous words. The use of unfamiliar words in explaining a proposition is exceedingly dangerous to success. It is better to express the thought clearly and in simple language which may readily be understood rather than to demonstrate superior education to someone who may or may not have had these advantages.
  10. Exaggeration. Over-indulgence in superlatives is a common and most serious mistake. It is better neither to under-estimate quality nor to over-estimate it, but to state facts convincingly and exactly as they are. The use of words “best in the world,” and “without an equal” unfavorably impress the hearer. The mere exaggerated assertion discounts a statement and discounts a man making it. Exact and uncolored statements inspire confidence — this confidence is a forward step in making a sale.
  11. Cheap. When a product is referred to as “cheap,” there is a tendency to understand the term as meaning “of comparatively small value, common, mean,” as well as “low-priced.” To impress the prospect with the idea that the product question has all the qualities commensurate with the price can be done to much better advantage by eliminating this word from your vocabulary.
  12. Overloading. A man would rather do business with a man who does not make him feel that his concern is not alone to sell him something but to sell him the goods which are best for him to buy. Many purchasing agents have worked out catches for getting a line on those who attempt to overload them. Once a man is caught attempting to overload a customer, he has built for himself an almost insurmountable barrier against himself. Though a salesman’s first business is to sell goods, through the selling of which to a certain extent his success is measured, he must be shrewd enough not to jeopardize all future sales by overloading. The broad-minded man is he who can look on the dealer’s side of the counter as well as on his own.
  13. Underloading. It is important not only to sell, but to show in turn how to dispose of what has been purchased. This is simply another illustration of the truism, “he profits most who serves best.” Regardless of the product sold, it is possible to materially increase business by making it a policy to be careful as to the kind and amount of stock sold, and to follow up the sale by constructive suggestions. There is a big business-building thought in this constructive suggestion idea — not that it is anything new, for it is not, but it is one of those things of vital importance which is well known but apt to be lost sight of in the zeal for piling up a big sales record.
  14. The “You” Attitude. Remember, it is the “you” attitude that counts. Convince the prospect that your proposition is to his interest. If there must be any patting on the back, pat him — not yourself — because he and he alone is the man who can place the order.   ■
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