We are assuming that you have secured an interview and that you are about to enter upon the Canvass, or presentation of your proposition. You have aroused Interest. Your object now is to develop that feeling into Desire. You have brought about a contact of the two minds. The next step is to induce a blending of their interests and ideas.
We have described the proper mental Attitude for you in the Approach. This Attitude should be a permanent condition- a re-flection of your Personality. You will carry it into your Canvass.
Now let us consider the mental Attitude which it is desirable for you to create in your Prospect. As a preliminary to the examination of this phase of our subject I will ask you to re-read the preceding chapter dealing with dispositions and associated ideas.
It must be assumed that you have made reasonable effort to learn what you could about your Prospect. Perhaps you have the great advantage of knowing something of his characteristics, traits, prejudices and tendencies. In this case you will disregard or modify the general principles of psychology which are safe tactical guides in a large majority of instances. In the course of the Canvass you should be watchful to detect indications of mental idiosyncrasies and alert to adapt your tactics to them.
The necessary limits of these papers for-bid a discussion of methods peculiarly fitted to influence men of certain temperaments and dispositions. Such knowledge is valuable, however, and the salesman is strongly recommended to cultivate it. Observation is the best school of education in this respect. Intelligent practice will develop a surprising degree of detective skill in a short while. Perseverance will ultimate in the possession of a faculty akin to a sixth sense which is enjoyed by some salesmen who can correctly gauge a man's "quality" or "grain" at sight, and find in the course of a short conversation, clues to his chief characteristics.
The dispositions which we may depend upon finding more or less prominently present in our Prospect's mental make-up are love of kin, love of gain, self-esteem and susceptibility to flattery. The average personality embraces all these traits. In endeavoring to stimulate Desire these are the sentiments and conditions upon which we must play. These are the main sources of the Motives that will prompt your Prospect to purchase.
The prime essential to success in the creation of Desire is a clear cut presentation of the thing offered. A prerequisite to such a presentation is a clear cut conception on the part of the salesman of the thing he is offering. The life insurance solicitor must have a thorough understanding of his policy. He cannot comprehensively explain it otherwise. The Prospect must receive a distinct mental impression of it. He cannot fully Desire it otherwise.
The mind naturally welcomes new ideas when presented to it in a simple and easily assimilable form. It just as naturally abhors those which are complex and nebulous. The former stimulate it, whilst the latter confuse and irritate.
The bird-shot presentation of a proposition peppers a man's mind all over with a great number of ineffectively expressed statements, none of which penetrates to the centre of his comprehension. The rifle method sends six or eight bullets from the magazine clean into the mind's bullseye.
The man who might restrict his presentation to the simple statement: "This policy will guarantee the payment of $10,000 at your death," would stand a better chance of getting an application than the man who should essay to explain every clause and feature of the contract.
In order to bring about the desired blend of the Prospect's mind with yours, you must be completely absorbed in your subject. Earnestness will always hold attention and stimulate interest. Use paper and pencil. Illustrate your main points by simple diagrams and write down your principle figures. When your Prospect begins to use such expressions as "That's so," "I see," etc., his mind is beginning to mix in with yours. Let it do so in due proportion. Encourage him to make some of the calculations and to reach some of the conclusions by independent reasoning. Suggest and let him draw deductions. Ask his opinion now and again and do it with an air of being interestedly anxious to know what it is. Try to induce in his mind the feeling that "WE are threshing out this thing together," not that you are trying to drive him into it. There are times to be positive and times to be conciliatory and compromising. Reserve your force for the closing stage. Lead him now. You may push him then.
Whilst you are making your presentation be on the look-out for the Motive that is most likely to influence your Prospect. Having detected it, make it the focal point of your Canvass thereafter. Concentrate on it. Direct all your efforts towards stimulating it, and make the utmost use of the principle of Disposition and Associated Ideas.
You are now seeking a Motive to prompt Desire. You may have to find another to effect the Close. One Motive may create willingness to insure and quite another decide the Prospect to sign the application. For instance, in the former case it may be Love of Gain; in the latter, an approaching change of age.
"System" says: "Typewriters, automobiles, bonds,- anything you may have to sell- are all dry subjects. And if you try to build your Canvass entirely on them- on your goods- you will build a dry, uninteresting Canvass. But a man's Motive- his pride, or desire for gain, his caution or weaknesses, are live, interesting things and a Canvass built around them is bound to be alive."
Having brought about a mingling of your Prospect's thoughts with your own, it is necessary to maintain that condition. In order to do this you must control the interview. This implies that you must regulate your Prospect's thoughts. You know the course which they should be taking. Keep them to it. If your Prospect makes a diversion, bring him back. Follow him only for the purpose of doing so.
In such situations salesmen commit two common errors. They either allow the Prospect to side-track them or they Drag him back to the point of departure. The expert accompanies his. man in the divergence with a show of interest, makes a short detour, and smoothly leads him into the path again. At this stage of the Canvass he avoids mental jolts. That form of stimulus should be employed only in the approach and as a means of reviving waning interest.
The worst obstruction with which the salesman has to contend in the conduct of an interview are such distractions as telephone calls and interruptions by employees. After one of these, it is generally best not to resume at the point where you were cut off. Go back a little way and repeat what you had been saying shortly before the interruption. The blending of your Prospect's thoughts with your own will be most readily resumed by your asking him a question bearing upon the statements which you had made just before the disturbance. Make it a pertinent question and wait for the reply, thus inducing him to detach his thoughts from the matter that had intervened and direct them again to the subject of your Canvass.
Now let us summarize. Having by the excitement of Curiosity or Associated Interest secured an interview, you must proceed to create direct Interest in your proposition and develop that Interest into Desire for the policy which you are offering. You must make a clear presentation of the contract. You should endeavor by suggestion and the operation of associated ideas to induce your Prospect to evolve in his mind and to express some of the features and advantages of the policy. You must bring his mind into co-operation with your own. And you must control the interview.