Frank Bettger was an ex-Major League Baseball player turned insurance salesman. Born in 1888 and living to a respectable 91 years of age, Better credited much of his success to his learnings from the great writer and self-improvement lecturer Dale Carnegie. Carnegie, an esteemed writer himself, described Bettger’s book on salesmanship:
“The most helpful and inspiring book on salesmanship that I have ever read”.
Despite being written in 1949, this is one of the best books on selling that I have read and many of the ideas within the book are still as relevant today, almost 70 years later than they have ever been.
The themes on salesmanship in the book are both practical and enlightening. This article will outline my 9 key learnings from the book, along with some of my favourite quotes.
1.”Enthusiasm is, by far, the biggest single factor in successful selling”
Better believed that Enthusiasm is the most influential factor in successful selling. If you can’t be enthusiastic about what you are selling, then how on earth will your prospect get excited?
Our state of mind is much more contagious than we often think. Generally, if one person in a room is incredibly happy, then others naturally become happy too. The same is true for enthusiasm, in fact, enthusiasm is one of the most contagious emotions there is – ‘If you are enthusiastic, your listener is very likely to become enthusiastic’.
What if you don’t feel enthusiastic? Simple. Force yourself to feel enthusiastic. A lot of the time we rely on our feelings to create our outward state, however, the inverse also works. When we act enthusiastic, put on a big smile and make a conscious effort, we naturally begin to feel more enthusiastic.
2. “You can’t hit ‘em if you don’t swing at ‘em”
Frank Bettger found that a fundamental law of baseball was equally as true in selling. You must swing, and swing often, to get a home run.
The thing about sales is that you will never hit a home run every single time, however, if you are constantly on the hunt for new business then eventually you will hit gold – it’s the law of averages.
The need for persistence is key in sales, for two main reasons:
- The more of your target market you speak to, the more successful you will be.
- The more personal case studies you have of prospecting new business, the more you can analyse what is working for you, and what is not working. This leads to improvement and higher conversion rates over time.
3. “When you show a man what he wants, he’ll move heaven and earth to get it”
By far, the most effective way to get someone to take action is to make them want to take action. By finding out exactly what people want, you are able to tailor your solution to their individual desire’s and use it as the foundation for your whole pitch. The key is to pick out the most vulnerable point and concentrate everything on that one point.
The only way to find out what someone wants is to ask meaningful questions that get to the route of your prospects problems. Find out what the individual wants, and help them get it. Once you have identified what the prospect desire’s, then you are able to highlight all the ways in which your product or service matches the criteria for what they are looking for.
4. “Lord help me to keep my big mouth shut until I know what I am talking about”
One of the most critically important skills in sales is not just to listen, but to actively listen. Becoming a masterful listener has a host of benefits.
Firstly, you are able to identify clues as to what your customer is looking for, gage with more accuracy what they want, understand their specific pain points and how you can be the one to provide a solution. This means that when it’s your turn to talk you will be more confident in how your product or service fits the customer’s needs.
Secondly, and equally as importantly – “there is nothing you can possibly say to an individual that would be half as interesting to him as the things he is dying to tell you about himself”. People love to talk about themselves, and when you allow them to do it, they will warm to you much more and in turn increase your chances of making a sale.
5. “Deserve Confidence”
In order for your prospect to believe that what you are selling, is indeed the ‘best thing since sliced bread’, then you must believe it yourself! It is of vital importance that you see the value in what you are selling, and are 100% confident that it is an excellent product. You must deserve confidence.
In essence, if you are not selling a great product, then find something else to sell!
6. “You’ve got to drill and drill and drill!”
If you want to be a star salesman for your business, somebody who brings in valuable clients consistently, then you must have the fundamentals of selling your product firmly in your mind. You have to be able to make a great impression with prospects in different situations and environments and effectively guide them to the right decision.
How do we reach this level of greatness? The only way to become a master salesman is to practice. You must get out on the field and start having interactions, making calls and selling your business. Over time, you will get better and better. Taking learning points from every sale, finding what worked and identifying what didn’t work.
7. “Your greatest asset is the number of strike outs you have had since your last hit”
This is just as much a universal law, as it is a law of sales. So I will use the same mini-biography of a man used in the book:
A young man once ran for the legislature in Illinois and was badly defeated.
He Entered business – failed – and spent seventeen years of his life repaying the debt of his business partner.
He was in love with a beautiful young woman, they became engaged. Shortly thereafter she died.
Reentering politics, he ran for Congress and was badly defeated again.
He became a candidate for the United States senate and was badly defeated.
Two years later he has defeated again.
This man, year after year faced failure after failure. But, he kept going. That man went on to become one of the greatest and most celebrated men in American history, his name was Abraham Lincoln.
8. “In this world, we either discipline ourselves, or we are disciplined by the world”
Another universal law, that rings truer in sales as in any other walk of life. Generating sales for your business means consistently working to generate more leads, gain new prospects and ultimately bring in new customers, even in the face of rejection.
Tough times will sap motivation, but when one is able to cultivate discipline, they are able to push through times of hardship or ‘low motivation’. It is one of the most important elements of being a successful salesperson, better yet it is one of the most important elements of being a successful person full stop.
You can’t win every day, but – “the crowd loves a good loser; everybody despises a quitter”.
9. “One of the greatest services one man can render another is to help him come to an intelligent decision”
If you’re in business, you’re in sales. There will be a time when you have to sell your product or service. For some, it will be often, for others not so often, but if you want to be of maximal value to your business then you should at the very least learn the fundamentals of selling.
If you’re in sales, then remember that anything you can learn to help guide customers to make the right decision is a great service to them, your company and you!
On that note, I would strongly recommend anyone who wants to improve their sales game read How I Raised Myself From Failure To Success In Selling, by Frank Bettger.
Author: Cameron Scott