Let us have a clear understanding of the task before us. We have to bring our prospect's mind into touch with our own, the point of contact being the subject of Life Insurance. Next we have to induce him to mingle his thoughts with ours, so as to create a common Interest and in this condition to carry him along with us to-ward our objective. Finally, we have to transform his Interest into Desire and the Resolve to purchase.
A sale then is a process of mental evolution. It has three manifest stages: the Approach; the Canvass; the Close. The last is a climax of the foregoing. The final result is the effect of efficiency all along the line.
It is important to observe these distinct phases of the sale, and to confine your effort during each to the appropriate purpose. In the Approach your object is to secure a hearing for your proposition. Concentrate on that object. Having accomplished it, devote your entire faculties to the creation of Desire. Restrict yourself to that object.
You can make no greater mistake than to introduce the tactics of one stage into the conduct of another. You will confuse your prospect and dissipate your strength by introducing your Canvass at the Approach or attempting to Close before you have created a favorable condition in your prospect's mind. By doing so you place yourself in the position of the impetuous chess player who follows his opening gambit with a premature attempt at mate. The adversary has an easy defense and a pronounced advantage in the situation.
Now, with a well-defined view of our object and the manner in which we intend to pursue it, let us proceed to a consideration of the psychology of the Approach. The prime necessity at this stage is to arouse in your prospect's mind a feeling of receptive-ness. And the chief factor in success is a proper mental Attitude on your own part.
What is a proper Attitude in the Approach? In the main, it is the Attitude which you should maintain throughout your working day. Its principal elements are Courage, Confidence, Self-respect, Poise, Clarity of Thought and Determination. These are to a great extent inter-dependent and their presence almost insures the co-relative qualities of Geniality, Courtesy and Tact.
I have said that the proper Attitude in the Approach is one which you should maintain constantly. The right time to assume it is the moment you hit the floor in the morning. Square your shoulders, draw a few long breaths. Throw up your head with a "Well, Old World, I'm going to take another fall out of you today" feeling. Preserve your equanimity on the street carthe most difficult thing I could ask you to do. Enter the office with a cheery greeting. Go out to your first prospect with your mind well balanced, your faculties on edge and your feelings in tune with your work.
Let your mental Attitude manifest itself in your bearing and address. Look the part you wish to act. Take advantage of the law of reciprocal action and reaction between mind and body. It is one of the greatest agencies at your command and one of the most easy to put into operation. You cannot look jolly without feeling cheerful. You cannot feel depressed without looking glum. Try a simple experiment in this direction. Stand with your mind as nearly blank as possible. Turn your eyes upward. Within sixty seconds you find your thoughts elevated. Now look upon the ground. Almost immediately you feel a tendency to reverie. Now look sideways. Thoughts of distrust and suspicion intrude upon the mind. In these little tests you are employing the smallest set of muscles in the body. You may secure much more marked results by the employment of the larger muscles in more extended action.
Don't wait until you are confronted by your task to get into the right Attitude. You can't do it. The engineer doesn't defer getting up steam until he is on the track. He does that in the roundhouse, and when he is coupled to his train he is ready to pull out at full speed.
Now, a few brief remarks on the chief elements of the proper Attitude.
Fear or timidity is the least excusable of our failings. You are a business man meeting another business man. In nine cases out of every ten your calling is a far nobler one than his. If you are doing your work honestly you are at least his equal. If you are doing it efficiently you are probably his superior. To cap all, your errand is to do him an inestimable service. Keep these facts prominently before your mind's eye. Get the right Attitude.
Timidity has a distinctly detrimental effect upon your work. It is instinctively associated in our minds with shame and weakness. The man who approaches us with embarrassment makes a disagreeable impression upon us. Why? Because experience has taught us that the man who addresses us in a shrinking manner is going to borrow money or say something which will be unpleasant to hear.
Before you have got so far as to state your business, you have often created an adverse impression by an air of hesitancy and apology. If you are afflicted with this failing you must overcome it.
Confidence is begotten of honest intention, consciousness of ability and conviction of the worth of the thing we have to sell. It is a great force in the Approach. The confident man is the personification of power. Instinctively we begin to let down the barriers at his approach. It is as though a pigmy should see a giant coming along with a large placard upon his breast inscribed: "I am going to do something." The little fellow-would say, "I don't know what it is, but I have no doubt you will do it if you want to." This is the chief asset of the Rufus P. Wallingfords. It opens doors and emp-ties purses for them. They take advantage of the principle of associated ideas and the fact that frank speech and an open manner are naturally suggestive of honesty. If these indications were tested by reason they would not be accepted so readily. We know that a hardened crook may have an eye as steady as the pole star whilst a perfectly honest man may have a shifty look.
Acquire Confidence by forming a solid substructure of efficiency for it to rest upon.
Of Self-respect I need say little . It depends upon inherent characteristics and acquired qualities. You cannot play a manly part without it. Foster it by every means in your power. Cherish it as your most valuable possession. Jealously guard...against the least impairment of it. Bear in mind that this is entirely under your control. No one but yourself can injure your Self-respect. Another can arouse in you any emotion but one. He can not make you feel mean. That feeling must emanate from some fault of your own.
Poise is one of the most impressive characteristics. The man who laughs unrestrainedly, talks excitedly or slops over sentimentally exhibits weakness. On the other hand, the man who seldom allows full play to his emotions and feelings suggests reserve force.
Keep yourself constantly in check. Only in this way may you exert your mental faculties to the best advantage. When the habitually poised man opens the sluice gates of his soul on justifiable occasion the flood of force is immeasurably greater than if he had them half open all the time.
Clarity of Thought, which is, of course, the mother of clarity of speech, is constantly possible only to a well-poised mind. There is no more effective agency at the command of the salesman than the clear expression of a well-defined thought. Its most essential element is a thorough understanding of the subject. I can make a statement pertaining to life insurance more clearly than the greatest orator or the brainiest man alive, if he should be ignorant of the subject. And because my statement, though couched in homely language, would penetrate your understanding farther than his, though con-veyed with striking eloquence, I would convince you before he would.
Spend no time in practicing rhetoric or elocution. Learn to think logically and honestly. Spare no pains in acquiring a thorough comprehension of your subject. And you may depend upon it that your presentation will be clear and forceful. That is true eloquence, regardless of the verbiage.
Determination is the quality of being earnest and decided; the resolve to accomplish a purpose. If you approach a prospect with an earnest Attitude and a decided resolve to secure a hearing, believe me, you will succeed in almost every case.
Obstruction melts away before a Determined Attitude. A thing willed is a thing more than half done.
Now let us take these qualities- this woof and weft- and pass them through the loom. What is the resultant fabric? Personality. The Attitude of the salesman should be an expression of his Personality. The Attitude of the salesman should be indicative of the qualities we have considered. The true Attitude is a natural one. It follows that the Personality of the Salesman must embrace Courage, Confidence, Self-respect, Poise and Determination.