In the companion book, styled "Effici-ency" the outward or superficial features of the Approach are examined and various methods of "getting in" to see a prospect are described. The contents of the chapter on this subject in "Efficiency" should be considered in connection with the following study of the inward or psychological phases of the Approach.
If you are in the right mental attitude the means you employ to see your prospect will not be deceptive, devious nor dishonest. Any success secured by such means must be short-lived and dearly bought. Its discovery will be accompanied by the creation of an adverse mental condition on the part of the prospect, which you will have to overcome. What folly to open in such a manner a project which depends for its successful outcome upon the establishment of Confidence! If you were a process-server, your end would be accomplished when you entered your man's office. But as a salesman that is only a preliminary step in your purpose, though an important one which should be taken with all the pains possible to create conditions favorable to the success of your next step.
This admonition against equivocal methods is not to be construed as a recommendation of unrestrained frankness. The chief motives on which you have to rely for an interview are Curiosity and Interest. In the endeavor to excite these you may legiti-mately exercise a certain degree of reserve and resort to a certain degree of ambiguity in your statement. But you must not state an untruth, nor make any assertion which will not be borne out in your canvass.
The principle involved in the matter is illustrated in the chapter of "Efficiency" treating the "Approach." From the same source you may gain some additional suggestions relating to the psychological processes entering into the effort to secure an interview.
At the first contact with your prospect the important thing is to impress him by your personality. The more natural your attitude the more effectively you may do this. If you possess the qualities which have been enumerated as elements of the proper attitude, you will be satisfied that your prospect should "see through you," as the saying is. You will invite his closest scrutiny. It goes without saying that you will avoid anything calculated to distract his attention from your real self. Mannerisms, peculiarities of dress, business cards, are such distractions.
The first five minutes in the presence of a prospect is nearly always of great consequence to you, and not infrequently it is the crucial period of your entire intercourse with him. It is then that he forms his first, and perhaps final, estimate of you. Men of affairs are in the habit of "sizing a man up" quickly. This first impression is created more by the outward expression of a salesman's personality or mental attitude than by what he says. If it be a favorable impression it remains with him to improve or impair it in his later contact with the prospect.
On this point the Instruction Manual of the National Cash Register Company says: "It is not sufficient to be merely a negative quality. You should make a positive favorable impression, and not by cajolery, nor attempted wit, nor cleverness. The only right way to gain a man's liking is to deserve it. The majority of men do not often know just what the characteristics of a man are which make him pleasing or displeasing to them; but they Feel pleased or displeased, attracted or repulsed, or indifferent, and the feeling is definite and pronounced, even though they can not understand just what makes it."
Whilst there may occasionally be other motives to which you will appeal for the granting of an interview, in the great majority of cases you must depend upon exciting Curiosity or Interest, if not both.
Curiosity is in fact an elemental form of Interest, but it lacks the specific quality that characerizes Associated Interest which we shall consider presently.
Curiosity is at once the most primitive and the most universal trait of mankind. Perhaps it is a heritage from our monkey ancestors and was a highly useful quality when safety prompted the investigation of every strange creature and novel condition, and when the scanty knowledge of the race was advanced almost solely by the acquisition of new experience. At the dawn of civilization Curiosity, hardly less than Necessity, prompted the discovery of the useful arts. But this is a digression.
If you can arouse Curiosity in your prospect you will have, at least, secured his Attention and gone an appreciable way toward exciting his Interest. In some instances this may be sufficient to accomplish the immediate object of the Approach- that is, to obtain for you the desired interview.
The principle involved is illustrated in the tactics of the street fakir and the barker for a dime museum, which are too familiar to be dwelt upon.
An Associated Interest is one relating to the personal affairs of an individual. It would be almost, but not quite, exact to call it self-interest. When you state: "I can save you money"; "My proposition will promote your business"; you are arousing Associated Interest.
Don't confuse this with the direct and definite Interest which you must excite by the presentation of your proposition. That belongs to the next stage of the sale. At present your efforts are restricted to securing an interview.
A little thought and observation will suggest many ways of bringing Curiosity and Associated Interest into play. I will give you three illustrations, in the form of replies to the objections most frequently made to the agent in the Approach.
"I don't want any more life insurance." "Why, Mr. High, I know you don't. If you did you'd have telephoned to the Mutual before this to have a man sent to you. Of course you don't want what I have to offer you. You can't desire a thing of which you have no conception. If I am not greatly mistaken my proposition is such as you have never thought or heard of. You can't afford to miss the opportunity of looking into it." "I have all the life insurance I want." "Now, tell me honestly, Mr. Collins, the last time you took life insurance didn't you make exactly the same statement to the agent when he approached you? It was true, too. But when you learned what he had to offer, you took it, and you have been glad ever since that you did. Is it not possible that you may repeat that profitable experience with me?"
"I have all I need."
"I wonder whether you have figured that by the new method recognized by business men, financiers, banks and other corporations nowadays. Do you know that there is a mathematical standard logically calculable from every man's domestic and business conditions? No? It is the most interesting sort of computation. Let us step into your office for a moment and I will explain it to you."
Remember you are not entering on your canvass at this time. Don't be led into making a statement of your proposition. Your object is to obtain an interview. Get that or nothing. More depends upon it than the important condition of securing a favorable opportunity to make your canvass. Success in this first tilt with your prospect will give you a certain degree of mental dominance over him which you will preserve and increase in the later negotiation.