Harry Turner - The Gentle Art Of Salesmanship

Definitely what you’d call an Airport book, this was given to me by my first close line manager in Sales.  How far have things changed since it was released way back in 1985?

I’m pleased to report it appears one of the few successful books to be written on our subject not penned by someone from North America (when first published in Britain, it cost less than £2).  Harry won’t exactly change your life, but here are the points pulled out well-worth a reminder:

  • Conduct your sales presentations in the language of a 5 to 6 year old.
  • You don’t have to get up early every morning and stay up late every night to be a great salesrep. Harry quotes from Sioux Indians: “he who hoots with the owls at night cannot fly with the eagles at dawn”. You can’t do both so you must frequently adapt.
  • Keep a ‘Special Record Category’, holding unusual characteristics associated with each client and business. Harry reminds us that no scrap of info is too unimportant to ignore. You need to keep two-way contact on a non-business level. He advocates sending clippings of hobbies, sports interests and holiday destinations, saying “dear Jack, thought you’d not want to miss this…”
  • He sort of has a selling process, where you always need to try and inject your personality onto proceedings. Then, individualise your product, and create a burning need for your product and satisfy it. Make it “as desirable as a raft to a drowning man”.
  • He believes in the very Japanese concept of allowing your prospect to save face. When a client moans, let them have their say without interruption. He finds that once they’ve run their course, they’ll retract any negative feelings. Also, don’t be too quick to jump in with glib responses. He’s found you should never ‘trump’ them, even with a fantastic solution.
  • Never talk about, let alone knock, the competition.
  • The good old ABC of sales – Always Be Closing. Don’t forget to box-off any transaction to get you closer to where you ultimately need to go.
  • His stream of consciousness about how misunderstood salesreps are, especially considering they pay everyone’s wages, is really worth the admission price. What he points out, is that too few firms understand how to reward their salesreps and we go around the old circles of what really motivates someone. Harry eventually plumps for a combo featuring lots of commission and reachable-with-a-lot-of-effort Target.

Unfortunately for our Harry, he looks the archetypal second-hand car dealer in his cover shot, complete with huge cigar, orange permatan and shiny suit, but he does provide a satisfying way to while away an hour or two.

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