These excursions below the superficial aspect of our work will be entirely free from abstract philosophy and speculative theories. We shall not roam into the field of far-reaching fancy but keep rigidly to the paths of practical, common-sense fact.
Salesmanship is essentially a psychological process. This is peculiarly true of life insurance salesmanship. The thing we offer is intangible and imperceptible. Our task is very different from that of selling an automobile or a cash register. We can not enlist the aid of material senses but must depend entirely upon sentiment and imagination.
The salesman may not realize it, but he is using psychological principles at every step of his canvass. They are the outcome of his experience and intuition. In all probability he has no definite conception of them and consequently does not utilize them to the best advantage.
You will find the most ignorant farmer practicing certain methods which experience has taught him to be effective. He is unconsciously employing the principles of scientific agriculture. If he understood those principles he would apply them more efficiently and with far better results. So with us. A knowledge of the psychology of salesmanship will enable us to turn to better account the factors which we are already engaging in our business.
The process of making a sale is almost entirely a mental one. The result is dependent upon the mental attitude and expression of the seller and the mental attitude and impression of the buyer. It is the out-come of the contact of two minds.
Now, if I want to sell something to Mr. Bogue, I adopt certain mental tactics regulated by my knowledge of his condition, character, temperament and traits. I know Mr. Bogue and I ought to be able to canvass him in the most effective manner.
But what about a stranger? I will endeavor by learning what I can regarding him to secure in some degree a similar advantage, but I must rely in the main on general principles of psychology. Allowing for idiosyncrasies, every mind is controlled to a great extent by predilections and influences that are impersonal and common to civilized mankind. The action of our minds is much more automatic than we realize, and is largely prompted by physical conditions, instincts and habits that are quite independent of reasoning or moral motives.
We play upon these mental tendencies of others in our work. What we need is a clearer knowledge of them and a more deliberate application of the knowledge.
"But," you say, "there is nothing new about this. It is merely human nature."
Just so. Psychology is the inner science of human nature. Don't associate it with metaphysics, psychism, or anything else that is mysterious. Psychology is as practical as physiology or anatomy. You are in the habit of judging a man's physique from superficial observation of the body. Why not form a similar habit of gauging minds by a study of mental manifestations? The latter practice will be of infinitely greater profit to you. It will enable you to make the most of your resources, to avoid mistakes, to take the most direct route to your object. It will make you a better salesman and greatly increase the returns from your work.
Now, what am I doing at this moment? I want to interest you in the study of psychology. I might have expatiated on its advantages in mental training and development. I might have dwelt upon its special value to the lawyer or physician. I might have advanced a score of reasons for my advice that you should direct your attention to psychology, with the result of stimulating some of you by one, others by another of my reasons. As a matter of fact I have confined myself to one motive- the love of gain, which is universal and which I could confidently expect to appeal to you all. There you have a practical illustration of a psychological principle, or, in other words, a common sense action based on a knowledge of human nature.
As I have said, from the moment a salesman enters the presence of a prospective purchaser until he leaves him, mental processes are influencing the negotiation. A knowledge of the psychology of salesmanship will facilitate the creation of a good First Im-pression, of Interest in the Proposition, Desire for the Thing offered and Resolve to Purchase it.