02 May 2017
Posted by Tom Hannon

“Autopsy Checklist”. “The Buying Motives.” “Price Cutting.” These are a few headings in the little green sales book I inherited a short while back. Each heading has a lesson “… a price cut of 5% may not seem like much but it means that volume must be increased 25%...”

The date “1950” is printed in gold on the cover of this small book. As a date book, or a “Salesman’s Data Book” as it calls itself on the title page, it was probably headed for the trash but a loved one thought I might take an interest in it. After reading it a few times, I’ve become flattered that someone thought this was a fitting gift for me.

The book is about 2.5 x 4.5 inches in size, has a semi hard green faux leather cover and would fit easily in your shirt pocket. A crisp white shirt of course, dark tie, suit coat with slender lapels, driving down down the street in a ‘49 Cadillac convertible. If you are going to be road warrior in the 50’s you might as well go in style.

 Turn past the title page and there is an “Identification” page to fill in your basic information, including your social security number. Might not find that so easily accessible nowadays. At the bottom you’ll  probably want to fill in the space after the direction; “In case of accident or serious illness please notify...” and hope that’s never needed.

But the good stuff really begins on the next page - “Make Your Lost Sales Pay a Profit!” by Richard C Borden, who is still selling books on speaking and sales all these years later, despite not be around to reap the profits. Opening line: “To win top laurels in selling, you’ve got to develop a positive appetite for criticism.” Sounds like this guy’s done a few cold calls.

Richard then gives us the “Autopsy Checklist, 25 Chief reasons why sales Die”. They are all great points. # 2 - My opening words were so weak that they failed to sell the customer on the importance of listening to the rest of my story. As a result, My train of thought pulled out of the station without my customer really being ON it.”

Here are few of my favorites:

 # 13 - “My customer didn’t like the abrupt way I refuted all his objections. My answer each time was beautifully logical...but I used it wrong...like a fly swatter. Customers, apparently, Don’t like feeling like swatted flies.

 # 16 - I played the verbal hose on my customer to continuously. He got irritated because I didn’t close my big mouth long enough to let him do a little talking, too.

# 25 - Secretly, way down deep in my heart...I didn’t BELIEVE that my product was a good buy. Somehow or other, my customer must have sensed that. Guess that guy was right who said: “All the waters in the world can’t sink your boat… UNLESS THE WATER GET’S INSIDE!

There are plenty of other Gems in the little green sales book. At the top of each week, ,in the date section, are sayings like, “Good salesmen, like a good pilot, are made in stormy waters.” Or, “If you need help, ask for it. If not, prove it.” And a most direct statement. “In selling, there is no substitute for orders.”

I’ve found this whole book interesting. Not just from the words printed in it from it’s production but also from the works marked in there by the salesman who used it. Every concept conveyed is connected to the human element in some way.

CRM’s are useful. All social media can be utilized in sales processes now. We (I) would be lost without technology in sales, I think. But when I look at this little book, I wonder about that.

If you sell in a manner in which you must speak to human beings, all of the lessons in the Salesman’s Data Book of 1950 still apply. I do not think that the majority of people are overlooking this. In fact, social media sites for business seem to affirm this, if even ironically. I just think that revisiting the basics is always a good idea. It’s the fundamentals as they say in athletic coaching.

If you want to pick up your own copy of the Salesman's Data Book, look online. I’m sure someone in the world has one to spare. Here’s some additional search criteria - it was published by the Dartnell Corporation, Chicago and London.

“Men hear only what they understand”...pg. 68.

05 Jun 2015
Posted by Tom Hannon

The Lincoln - Douglas debates are rife with sales techniques. That’s a disparaging remark considering the importance of the impending election and the ramifications it would have on the direction of the United States. But, none the less, my myopicy did not precede me to see what I could only see and therefore did see; some darn good sales techniques.

I would love to bore you away for some time rambling on about each and every quote I found in the debates that related to selling but you may have better things to do with your life. Fine. Allow me this one point, please:

I will paraphrase Douglas as he talks about Kansas and the slave issue there and how he is in favor of it and Lincoln is not. Douglas says that Lincoln trusts the people of Kansas to govern themselves but not to govern their own slaves. Lincoln replies, “No man is good enough to govern another man without the other's consent.”

A business, a sales organization, is not a democracy but it is not slavery either, at least not in this country it’s not. The sales people have chosen to stay for various reasons of their own and they are free to leave. So what is the best way to govern sales people? I believe it is to allow them to be as free as possible within the confines of limited rules, limited government. This is about profit. It just so happens to be ethical. The two are linked. But that’s a subject for another posting.

Here’s an example: I have a guy that works here and he’s a great salesman, naturally. And like a lot of naturally great salespeople, the very few that I have worked with, his personality is broad, vivid, expansive. That made it hard for me to manage him. I thought I had to pay close attention to him, micromanage, keep him focused on what I perceived to be the “message”. But that didn’t work. I couldn’t corral him. So I let him go. Go at it his way not fire him. And as long as he didn’t lie or misrepresent us, I let him be. He’s still here and he’s still one of our top people.

The problem was me, not him. I was over governing him. The thing that frustrates me more than anything else, being over governed, is exactly what I was doing to him. Now I’m aware of that. That revelation came to me from the Lincoln Douglas debates.

I thought I was being  indulgent my time watching a lecture about those debates. I was interested but am quick to judge an action that will not directly benefit me or my family or my business as a leisure activity. And although this was a weekend, I felt I had some work to do at the time. Good thing I didn’t do that ”work”. Inspiration can be found anywhere. The debates are a great place to look if you're into sales processes.

19 May 2015
Posted by Tom Hannon

Sales and marketing intellectuals with audiences of envious volume are talking about gaining new customers by not interrupting them. Interruption is a thing of the past. You must apply your efforts towards “hand raisers”. In these digital times, they emphasize, old methods are dying.

The death of direct marketing may be overstated but there is no doubt that you can market anything to a group that is specifically geared towards that thing, whatever it may be. There is a group online for just about anything. Narrowcast marketing is a thing of the present and most likely the future.

Despite the elegance and organization of the internet and it’s splintering of marketing efforts, one idiom of brutal and crude consequence still holds true; necessity is the mother of invention. I’m willing to go one step further and extend the element of crudeness and say that we are still driven by our base desires at the highest levels of accomplishment and that will never change.

Facebook was started to impress a girl. The deepest recesses of the human brain wired for reproduction have inspired a technical revolution. The fastest growing sport worldwide is mixed martial arts. The human desire and ability for combat is based in the those same recesses of our brains. The number of gun owners in America is growing at a rate higher than ever before. Our deep seated desires for security manifest themselves. 

Technology, entertainment, security and even our capacity for empathy are driven by our most base and reptilian parts of our brains. That should not be forgotten in any sales effort. In fact it should be emphasized.

Now, I’m not talking about the Jerky Boys skit where the aspiring car salesman describes his techniques as "putting their freakin’ face on the hood of the car and telling them they're going to buy it…” I paraphrase.  But a gentle consideration for the natural drivers of human action must play a part in everything we do simply because we are there, and we are we. We are human.

I’m not a big fan of fear selling like when an alarm company tells you that an office down the street has been broken into recently. I also do not like crude sales people. So there is a fine line, I suppose. Where that line is is subjective. Get it right and you're good; get it wrong and your offensive, or worse, you've lost an opportunity.

Tell me about your experiences as a lizard. I’d like to learn from them or share them on RDI’s blog. Please send them to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.