1950's Salesman's Data Book

Posted by Tom Hannon
on 02 May 2017

“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.