Saturday, January 10, 2009

Path to efficiency

The consciousness of being superbly equipped for your work brings untold satisfaction.

Efficiency is the watchword of today. The half-prepared man, the man who is ignorant, the man who doesn’t know his lines, is placed at a tremendous disadvantage.

A student seeking admission to the Oberlin College asked its famous president if there was not some way of taking a sort of homeopathic college course, some short-cut by which he could get all the essentials in a few months.

This was the president’s reply: “When the Creator wanted a squash, he created it in six months, but when he wanted an oak, he took a hundred years.”

One of the highest-paid women workers in the world, the foreign buyer for a big department store, owes her position more to thorough training for her work than to any other thing. Between salary and commissions, her income amounts to thirty thousand dollars a year.

Speaking of her place in the firm, one of its highest members said to a writer: “We regard Miss Blank as more of a friend than an employee; and she came to us just twenty years ago with her hair in pig-tails, tied with a shoe string; and she was so ill fed and ill clothed we had to pass her over to our house nurse to get her currycombed and scrubbed before we could put her on as a cash girl.

Without training, she would probably have dropped back in the gutter as an unfit and a failure. With training, she has become one of the ablest business women in the country.”

The term “salesmanship” is a very broad one; it covers many fields. The drummer for a boot and shoe house, the insurance agent and manager, the banker and broker, whose business is to dispose of millions of dollars’ worth of stocks and bonds—all these are “salesmen,” trafficking in one kind of goods or another—all form a part of the world’s great system of organized barter.

There are three essentials which must be considered in deciding on salesmanship or any other vocation, namely: taste, talent, and training.

The first is, by far, the most important of all the essentials, for whatever we have a taste for, we will be interested in; what we really become interested in, we are bound to love, sooner or later, and success comes from loving our work.

To find out whether or not you are cut out for a salesman, you must first analyze the question of your taste and your talent. In this matter, however, it should be borne in mind that human nature, especially in youth, is plastic, and that we can be molded by others, or we can mold ourselves.

Even though one has not a strong taste, naturally, or a decided talent for salesmanship, he can acquire both, for even talent, like taste, may be either natural or acquired.

By proper training in salesmanship, which means the right kind of reading, observing and listening, and right practicing, we can develop our taste and ability so as to become good salesmen or good saleswomen.

The basic requirements for successful salesmanship are good health, a cheerful disposition, courtesy, tact, resourcefulness, facility of expression, honesty, a firm and unshakable confidence in one’s self, a thorough knowledge of, and confidence in, the goods which one is selling, and ability to close.

True cordiality of manner must be reinforced by intelligence and by a ready command of information in regard to the matters in hand. It will be seen that all things make the man as well as the salesman—when coupled with sincerity and highmindness, they can’t but bring success in any career.

The foundation for salesmanship can hardly be laid too early. The youth who uses his spare time when at school, in vacation season, and out of business hours, in acquiring the art of salesmanship will gain power to climb up in the world that cannot be obtained so readily by any other means.

Fortunate is the young man who has received the right kind of business training. No matter what his occupation or profession, such training will make him a more efficient worker. Many youths have had fathers whose experience and advice have been valuable to them.

Others have been favored by getting into firms of high caliber. As a result they have been in a splendid environment during their most formative years, and in so far have had an inestimable advantage in success training.

Many people have the impression that almost anybody can be a salesman, and that salesmanship doesn’t require much, if any, special training.

The young man who starts out to sell things on this supposition will soon find out his mistake. If salesmanship is to be your vocation you cannot afford to take any such superficial view of its requirements.

You cannot afford to botch your life.

You cannot afford a little, picayune career as a salesman, with a little salary and no outlook. If salesmanship is worth giving your life to, it is worth very serious and very profound and scientific preparation and training.

I know a physician, a splendid fellow, who studied medicine in a small, country medical school, where there was very little material, and practically no opportunity for hospital work.

In fact, during his years of preparation his experience outside of medical books was very meager. Since getting his M.D. diploma this man has been a very hard worker and has managed to get a fair living, but he is much handicapped in his chance to make a name in his profession.

He has a fine mind, however, and if he had gone to the Harvard Medical School in Boston, or to one of the other great medical schools where there is an abundance of material for observation and facilities for practice in the hospitals and clinics, he would have learned more in six months, outside of what he gathered from books and lectures, than he learned in all of his course in the country medical schools.

His poor training has condemned him to a mediocre success, when his natural ability, with a thorough preparation, would have made him a noted physician.

You cannot afford to carry on your life work as an amateur, with improper preparation.

You want to be known as an expert, as a man of standing, a man who would be looked up to as an authority, a specialist in his line.

To enter on your life work indifferently prepared, half trained, would be like a man going into business without even a common school education, knowing nothing about figures.

No matter how naturally able such a man might be, people would take advantage of his ignorance. He would be at the mercy of his bookkeeper and the other employees, and of unscrupulous businessmen.

And if he should try to make up for his lack of early training or education, he must do it at a great cost in time and energy.

Successful salesmanship of the highest order requires not only a fine special training, but also a good education and a keen insight into human nature; it also requires resourcefulness, inventiveness and originality.

In fact, a salesman who would become a giant in his line, must combine with the art of salesmanship a number of the highest intellectual qualities.

Yet in salesmanship, as in every other vocation, there is not one qualification needed that cannot be cultivated by any youth of average ability and intelligence. Success in it, as in every other business and profession, is merely the triumph of the common virtues and ordinary ability.

In salesmanship, as in war, there is offensive and defensive. The trained salesman knows how to attack, and he knows how to defend himself when he is attacked. Everything contained within the covers of this book has for its object the most effective offensive and defensive methods in selling.

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