For every sale you miss because you’re too enthusiastic, you will miss a hundred because you’re not enthusiastic enough. -Zig Ziglar
I attended my first sales meeting in a small warehouse location where we loaded our cars with merchandise and went out around town trying to sell everything by 7:00 pm. I was hired after a quick ad response and an even quicker interview.
Arriving early on my first day of work, I watched as a groggy, sloppily-dressed group of guys drifted in over the next 15 minutes. Most were silent and sulky, focused more on their coffee or energy drinks, than anyone around them.
At exactly 9 o’clock we were called into a small office with rows of folding chairs and a whiteboard. Everyone stood as the speaker took his place.
“Good morning crew. How much are we going to sell today?”
“We’re going to sell it all.”
“I said….HOW MUCH ARE WE GOING TO SELL TODAY?”
“WE’RE GOING TO SELL IT ALLLLLL!!!”
Everyone around me was suddenly alive, smiling, yelling … screaming, hand-slapping high-fives, and hooraying like I’d never seen! They were going to sell it ALL and they were going to be LOUD about it!
The chanting lasted several more minutes while the Sales Manager updated sales on the whiteboard and assigned teams for the day. Then, everyone was dismissed to make their rounds and start selling.
This was my first experience with the culture of sales meetings. It’s a culture that has changed little since the 1950’s. The goal is always to build energy, excitement, and enthusiasm in your sales team — To get everyone stoked so they will go sell EVERYTHING!
The job of salesperson existed long before the 1950’s. There was some formal training available to men as early as the 1870’s and into the 1900’s in the large manufacturing companies.1 Later, the 1930’s ushered in sales trainers like Elmer Wheeler, who coined the well known phrase, “Don’t sell the steak – sell the sizzle!,” and Dale Carnegie with his highly successful book, “How to Make Friends and Influence People.” More companies were trying to improve their sales techniques and training programs while many individuals read Carnegie’s book for self-improvement and the goal of greater profitability.1 (It’s interesting to note that both Wheeler’s saying and Carnegie’s book remain in use today by organizations and their salespeople.)
Sales People did exist earlier than the 1950’s, but it wasn’t until that time that Sales became a Profession and gained some acceptability in social circles. At the same time, Sales Meetings as we know them today were developing into the familiar format still in use: Review goals, apply necessary psychology, push for personal objectives, and get everyone’s energy up and running!
The late 1950’s was a wonderful time in America. The Great Depression was gone and the war was over – life was good! The word “consumer” entered into American language and defined a new generation of people having extra money for things other than necessities. Suddenly, there were extra dollars to be spent and new-fangled items to spend those dollars on. The culture of Sales and Sales Meetings as we know them today was born.
This “culture” was a new sales approach – half psychology-personal development and half motivational-speeches and exercises. These techniques were implemented in enthusiastic sales training and hooray-filled sales meetings across the country – the intent was to reach higher sales goals and to achieve higher profit margins. The amazing new techniques worked perfectly!
High profit was a expected by every business employing a sales force. New training programs, by third party providers, became more common over time. This was especially true in the insurance and automotive industries — consumers welcomed life insurance agents into their home to make a purchase and lined up at flashy new dealerships to buy cars.
The Sales Force (consider the implication in the name for a moment) and the new Sales Meetings were here to stay. Walk into any car dealership in America, not to mention countless other sales rooms, and you’ll likely find a group of screaming people in the training room building motivation and energy for the day ahead. ~
1. Stein, Dave. “The Evolution of Sales Training.” Chief Learning Officer Magazine online. 1,2 (2002). http://www.clomedia.com/content.html
2. www.sales-hacker.com see below for info and link.
Here’s a wonderful, nostalgic FORD Sales and Marketing Film from the 1950’s!
There’s a great post over at Sales Hacker about 1950’s Sales Techniques at http://sales-hacker.com/?p=52 A partial list follows below, please see original site for full list and other great posts!
So here for your benefit (and with a slightly nostalgic sigh) is a 1980′s summary of Goldman’s 1950′s sales principles.
1. What you sell is never a product as such but the idea behind the product – that is, the role played by the product in satisfying a customer’s needs. The product is a means, not an end in itself.
2. Every product, if it is to be saleable, must correspond with certain basic human needs. You can arouse and develop needs but you cannot create them.
3. Very few purchases are motivated exclusively by rational considerations.
4. Progressive selling is not the same as high pressure or aggressive selling.
5. Customers do not always buy the highest quality product but they will often buy the product that meets their perceived needs.
Want more information about Sales, Sales Training, and Sales Meetings?
www.zieglersupersystems.com (my personal favorite guru)
Want to read more on this topic?
- Sales Force Training? Just Don’t Teach Pigs to Fly. (salesforcetraining.com)
- Periodic sales training programs are necessary for sales persons (nikkijohn.typepad.com)
- Stop Selling! And Start Consulting. (salesforcetraining.com)
- Training Your Way To Auto Dealership Success (automotiveprofessionals.wordpress.com)
- Why sales people talk too much … and what to do about it (customerthink.com)
- 7 Reasons Sales Training Fails (hubspot.com)