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Introduction To Salesmanship

Low-pressure selling is the quiet, courteous, and friendly science of using convincing reasons why a customer should buy a product or service from you instead of someone else. It is like a low-pressure tire. It enables you and your prospect or customer to enjoy the route of the sale in complete comfort. It helps to relax the sale because it is quiet and friendly in appeal—profitable to all salesmen who use it.

I believe we’ll all agree that low-pressure selling is making a comeback. Radio and television commercials are getting quieter, thus indicating the trend towards low pressure in these mediums of mass selling.

There’s more to prove that low pressure is becoming a fast-growing therapy in these noisy, swift-moving times. The Wall Street Journal ran a front-page story about the boss who fired his top saleswoman.

When sales sagged sharply last fall, the owner of a woman’s apparel shop in Florida came up with an unusual countermeasure: He fired his top-selling clerk. “She was my only high-pressure saleswoman, and I don’t believe in high pressure,” he said, “Sales have increased every month since she left.”

More on the front page of the Wall Street Journal:

Another opponent of high-pressure selling is the operator of a music store in Dallas. “People are relaxed when they come into my little store,” he says. “This makes selling easier.” The owner started in business ten years ago with $4,000 in the capital, expects this year’s sales to top $100,000. Low-pressure selling is the gentle art of getting the customer to sell himself. With it, you can move mountains of merchandise and gain customer confidence and respect. With it, you can radiate enthusiasm and gain more friends, more customers, more repeat business.

What Makes a Low-Pressure Salesman?

An honest and sincere compliment brings low pressure to life when the chairman of a benefit sends you a letter stating, “Your presence will add prestige to this benefit dinner,” that’s low pressure! Note how he added warmth to the invitation by complimenting you. And, even though you are expected to send your check for the enclosed tickets, the blow has been softened, the sale placed in a low-pressure atmosphere.

Whether you sell or buy, using the honest and sincere compliment is the low-pressure way to get along with people. For example:

“Thanks for giving me such a good haircut.” “We enjoyed the last steak you delivered.”

“That gas you sold me gave me more miles than I’ve ever gotten.”

“The car you sold me is a honey! Rides like a charm!”

“My! You certainly do good work on my shirts!” “That’s certainly a good shoe shine!”

Giving praise where it is due is sometimes more satisfying than a larger tip to a waiter or a barber. It’s a good low-pressure sales habit. Whether you sell insurance, real estate, or fish hooks, the people from whom you yourself buy are also prospects for what you sell. They have their eyes on you. Make them say, “My, he’s such a nice, friendly person. It’s a pleasure to do business with him!”

Don’t spare the compliment! That makes low-pressure selling come to life.

Being complaint-considerate is a low-pressure trait

When a major airline admits its error in handling my luggage, expedites the matter swiftly, and handles my claim to my complete satisfaction, they prove they are compliant-considerate, low pressure minded. The following letter is a prime example of low-pressure salesmanship on their part:

Dear Mr Berman:

Thank you for sending the itemised list of articles you purchased in Colorado Springs as a result of your misplaced luggage.

Attached is our check for $43.83 for full reimbursement. Thank you for allowing us to complete this matter to your satisfaction. Given the opportunity, I am confident we can be restored to your confidence.


Asst. to Vice President Transportation Services

The last sentence in the letter is the ultimate in low pressure! I am restored to their confidence. I have told many of my friends about this letter. I am now a walking, talking, good advertisement for that airline!

How low pressure gets appointments faster

The bigger they are, the harder they fall. Especially when you use low pressure in writing for an appointment. For example, back in April of 1950, I sent the following low-pressure letter to the publisher of a top-flight fashion magazine:

Dear Sir:

Would you be willing to match a few moments of your busy time against hearing about a perfectly grand promotion idea? The writer has served an apprenticeship of almost 20 years in advertising, sales promotion, public relations, and publicity, and, because of this, feels that your ear will be pleased.


Did it work? I’ll say it did! Low pressure always works! Here’s the reply to my letter:

Dear Mr Berman:

We would be most happy to hear your promotional idea and, if it is convenient, please do try to stop in at two o’clock on Friday. If this is not convenient, please call for another appointment. Many thanks.

Cordially yours,

So you see, with low pressure every salesman can attract interest, attention, and result-getting action from top management all the way down the line. A quiet and informative approach to selling never fails!

Why low-pressure salesmen earn the buyer’s respect

There is an old Latin proverb, “Caveat Emptor,” meaning “Let the buyer beware!” People who buy from low-pressure firms and their salesmen seldom, if ever at all, have to worry about legal technicalities if something goes wrong with the product or the service. Unfortunately, there are high-pressure firms and high-pressure salesmen who skip rather swiftly over the “fine print,” making lots of glowing promises they never fulfil.

Back in 1950, a leading New York hospital fell prey to the dishonest wiles of a High-Pressure Henry. The salesman had a “deal” for a “price.” The purchasing agent was new to the job. The salesman talked fast. The buyer listened too slowly. End result—Henry got the sale. But he’ll never repeat!

The hospital, operating on direct electrical current, purchased 40 freezer units, wired for alternating current only!

Did the salesman or his company make good? Did they offer to return the hospital’s money or replace the units with DC motors? NO, THEY DIDN’T! Will the manufacturer of these units ever sell another hospital within telephone range of the purchasing agent? I’ll let you be the judge.

Low-Pressure Larry would have handled himself quite differently. He would have discussed all of the problems, the needs and requirements of the hospital. He would have sold his product on its merits. “Deals” and “price” would have no bearing on high quality, complete and uncompromising satisfaction in the sale, servicing, and guaranteed the performance of the merchandise.

How planning is part of the low-pressure selling character

For example, here’s how Low-Pressure Larry handles a planned sales call:

“Here’s how we worked out your requirements, Mr Evans. Your market has 25,000 families. Our current national selling rate shows that we are getting around 25 percent of the total business in this brand. We figure you might consider a potential customer total of 6,000 homes in this area. Based on these factual marketing figures, Mr Evans, what is your opinion on ordering additional stock for the coming, busier, fall selling season?”

Need we ask what an astute merchant will do in the above case? He will sell himself. Note how Low-Pressure Larry used such pleasant, pin-drop phrasing as “we figure you might consider” and “what is your opinion on ordering.” Larry’s last selling sentence called for the customer’s opinion. He made the customer feel important. He wanted the sale to travel a two-way street. He got the customer into the act! These are low pressure selling traits that help get the prospect to sell himself.

Let us not overlook Larry’s knowledge of the market, the potential. He also knows the customer’s ability to stock and finance. He doesn’t oversell. He states facts. He builds greater confidence because he is well armed with sound marketing and merchandising advice. He plans his call before making the contact. He’s not a “hit and runs” high-pressure salesman!

What part product knowledge plays in low pressure

The customer asks High-Pressure Henry: “How often will I have to renew the batteries in this portable radio?” “Not very often, sir,” says Henry. “They’re heavy duty type; they’ll give you really long service.” Wrong answer! Just small talk by a salesman who doesn’t know his product wants a fast sale and is even willing to play havoc with facts to fool the customer.

Low-Pressure Larry handles the same question: “According to factory specifications, sir, these batteries will last up to one year with the average use of the instrument. Of course, you may have to replace them sooner, and it would probably pay you to have a spare set on hand just in case.” Note how Low-Pressure Larry offers factory-product information. He doesn’t misrepresent his product. He is step-up minded, ready to sell a spare, emergency set of batteries. He gains customer confidence by being honest and informative—all of which helps to make him a successful low-pressure salesman.

How the High-Pressure Salesman “Operates”

Twenty-five years of selling the low-pressure way have taught me that high-pressure selling is hit-and-run salesmanship. Down through the years, we have all made our own observations of High-Pressure Henry and his selling sins. Here’s my list: (It would be fun to make up your own.)

“Quick package” sins

  1. He’s a one-shot boy, a fast-buck boy. Often too aggressive, overly impudent, and rather careless with the selling truth.
  2. I’ve never yet seen a salesman who sold for price only, who wasn’t a high-pressure salesman.
  3. I’ve yet to see a high-pressure salesman get repeat business from the customer he once pressured and sold.
  4. I’ve yet to see a high-pressure salesman make
    a sale who, when asked questions he couldn’t answer about his product or service tried fast double talk as a substitute for facts.

Bragging sins

  1. He plays big shot and, boy, does he tell you how important he is!
  2. He knows everyone the customer knows, only
    more intimately! Wait’ll you hear about the “deals” he’s made with friends of yours.
  3. He’s got connections. Lots and lots of them! Listen to the names he’s dropping!
  4. He has a social position. Wait’ll you hear the country club list he gives you.
  5. He went to the best schools and plays at being a job snob by rapping his competitors for making “stupid claims.” However, he treats
    you just like a country cousin.

Personality sins

  1. He flatters you. Tells you how important you
    are. He thinks you’re the greatest, but you should hear what he tells your competitor!
  2. He’s controversial.  He never discusses the point, always wants to argue it.
  3. He’s not interested in your problems, only his own. He considers getting your order as the only problem involved in the sale.
  4. He never stops talking long enough to recognise the sound of his customer’s voice.
  5. He doesn’t know how to handle a customer complaint without almost involving his firm in a lawsuit. This type also includes high-pressure credit managers who think written or verbal blackjacks are good substitutes for friendliness and understanding in their letters and telephone approaches.  You know the type: “Pay up or else!” “I’m sorry, but that’s your problem.” “Let me tell you . . .”
  6. I’ve yet to meet a high-pressure salesman who told me he believes in high-pressure selling. This proves that even a high-pressure salesman hates to admit he is one!

(It’ll also be fun to compare your list with mine.)

Never underestimate your customer

Let’s not kid ourselves! The smart buyer is on guard against the high-pressure salesman. I know you are. I know I am. We all are. You can spot him a mile away. Especially if we’ve already been signed, toasted, or even burned by him.

Products and services sold the high-pressure way are never sold on their respective merits. High-Pressure Henry operates with a wide open smile, a wide open order book. He keeps the order book wide open so he can push you into it that much easier! He writes a faster single order than any salesman alive. He writes the slowest repeat business in selling!

High-pressure selling is dangerous to the good health of any sale. It is more apt to confine the sale of a product or service to cut-rate, cut-price, or “deal” selling. Thus it definitely tends to undermine the meaning of product quality, extra value for the higher price, and complete, customer satisfaction through better-made merchandise, dependable service, and reliable, customer warranty protection.

The ten keys that prove the low-pressure salesman’s service to the customer

  1. Low-Pressure Larry develops stronger sales muscles and gives them better tone by selling the merits of his product or service first. He justifies the price before quoting it.
  2. I’ve never seen a low-pressure salesman lose a sale because of the price.
  3. I’ve never seen a satisfied customer dissatisfied with the price.
  4. I’ve yet to see a low-pressure salesman fail to get repeat business from customers he formerly sold the low-pressure way.
  5. I’ve yet to know a low-pressure salesman who didn’t have his regular customers demand by naming his personal services on repeat business. Incidentally, this goes for men and women visiting their favourite barber, beauty operator, or shoe, auto, or the insurance salesman, plus hundreds of other cases where the low-pressure salesman is traditionally sought after because he was easy to buy from and made them enjoy spending their money with him. You can reassure yourself that this is the truth by simply examining your own reasons for spending your money with certain firms and the people in them. The thing that motivates all of us in purchasing is first, the need or desire for what we want. Second, the factor of finding people who are friendly to our buying interests. You know what we look for—a low-pressure salesman!
  6. I’ve never heard a low-pressure salesman speak out of both sides of his mouth at the same time in double-talk fashion. If asked a question about his product or service to which he has no ready answer, he will be honest with the customer. He will not attempt to generalise or switch the conversation. He will tell the customer he doesn’t know, but he’ll try to find out. This may delay making the sale right then and there. But it doesn’t delay respect and confidence from the customer, who feels he is being treated with honesty.
  1. I’ve never met a low-pressure salesman whose tongue has grown longer from excessive usage since he became a salesman.
  2. I’ve yet to meet a customer sold the low-pressure way who was ever refused adjustment, repair, replacement, or a refund if nothing else satisfied. On the other hand, I’ve yet to meet a customer sold by a hit-and-run, high-pressure salesman, medicine man, or carnival hawker, whoever managed to get his money back.
  3. He trades up to more value for the cus tomer’s money. He describes and demonstrates product features and their benefits.
    He does all this first. He radiates confidence by the enthusiasm he himself shows for the benefits he wants the customer to own. Like the Amana Freezer people, he doesn’t sell Amana, he translates Amana features and their benefits into “better living.” He knows that people are convenience-minded.   He proves that, because of the extra convenience and quality benefits in his product or service, the customer can be convinced that high quality is the best economical bargain indie world! He knows how to put his sale in a friendly, relaxed atmosphere.

It is rather interesting to report that more than 50 billion dollars is earned annually by the insurance and the automobile businesses in this country and that each of these businesses, though furiously competitive, is basically founded upon low-pressure salesmanship. Why? They sell their services and products on a friendly, personal-contact, repeat-business basis.

Ask yourself how many times you did, and are still doing, business with the same insurance agent. Ask yourself how many times you repeated with Ford, Chevrolet, Buick, Dodge, Oldsmobile, Chrysler, Cadillac, or Lincoln. Then, ask yourself how many times you bought from the same dealer, the same salesman. Doesn’t this hold true with the family doctor, butcher, barber, clothing salesman, or shoemaker?

Why Do We Deal with These People Regularly?

It isn’t too difficult to figure out. We like them because they are friendly because we get along well with them. They respect our product and service wants. We have confidence in them. They know their job. They know how to keep us satisfied. If we complain, they handle our complaint swiftly and fairly. They never try to push us into their cash registers. They are low-pressure salesmen.

What with advertising in magazines, newspapers, television and radio commercials, billboards, highway signs, and displays in windows and on counters all constantly hammering away at people, not to mention door-to-door salesmen, telephone salesmen, direct mail solicitation for products, services, and charity, it would appear that John Q. Public today is attacked and browbeaten from every side. In fact, it seems that old John Q. has found it almost impossible to dodge advertising.

A well-seasoned low-pressure salesman is fully aware of the pressurised sales leverages. That is why he tempers his sales approach until it is quiet, relaxing, and pleasant to the customer. In a measure, he employs what we might call “a change of selling pace.” The pace is not so swift. There is no attempt to squeeze more sales pressure into his customer’s already overcrowded mind. He gives the buyer a chance to collect his wits. He helps to keep the sales atmosphere breathable and unconfining.

How patience can get you in tune  with your customer

The best example of patience I can give you on “a change of selling pace” that will certainly help a low-pressure salesman become successful is the case of any salesman protecting his sale the low-pressure way by saying:

“That’s the story, Mr Baker. Why not think it over? When would it be convenient for me to get your final decision?”

That’s what we call a real, honest-to-goodness, low pressure “change of selling pace/’ Let’s think about what our low-pressure salesman just did! Imagine his telling the customer to think it over! Naturally, this is not a technique for over-the-counter selling. But it definitely fits high dollar spending. It’s one of the secrets of successful low-pressure salesmanship and the one secret you must never forget!

In thousands of cases involving the purchase of new homes, additional life insurance, annuities, new cars, or other high-dollar products and services, the prospect expects that you will give him some time to think about spending his money—especially large sums.

By telling the customer you would like to have him think it over, you have anticipated him. He was just about to tell you he’d like to give the matter some more thought before making a final decision. He appreciates people who anticipate his thinking, his needs. They are in tune with him. They are better able to understand his needs, his problems, and serve him accordingly. He is inclined to admire your low-pressure approach to selling.

After all, if he says, “Never mind, go ahead and make up the order now,” you’re still way ahead.

How long has it been since you said, “Don’t decide now, think it over? I’ll get in touch with you whenever you say!” How can he fail to appreciate your low-pressure change of selling pace? He will remember you for it. It will become your low-pressure trademark with him. By contrast, it makes you outstanding because he’s being hit from all sides by High-Pressure Henry who’s always geared to get the order NOW!

All of us in selling know that one quick sale, simply for the sake of getting a single order, means very little. Steady, repeat business with the same satisfied customers is profitable. It indicates a long-range, low-pressure viewpoint.

As a final note in our review of the secret of low-pressure selling, I contend that every sale, like every salesman, has its own central nervous system. Low-pressure selling acts to lessen tension, reduce irritability and restlessness. It assures more restful selling to both the customer and the salesman. It is the most potent and profitable tonic to better selling yet discovered.

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