ADVERTISING is a branch of the science of salesmanship, and to understand its relation to business it is necessary to have a clear idea of salesmanship. Enough space will be used to define salesmanship, but not to discuss it or consider it in any other light or scope than as the parent science of advertising.
Salesmanship is the art of selling. It is the process of exchanging goods. Upon its operation depends all of the commerce and trade of the world. There is little activity in the business world, or in the social, moral, or scientific world, which does not go on through salesmanship.
The principles of salesmanship are applied to all of the other professions, to all of the trades, to all developments of merchandising, to all phases of business which involve the solicitation by one man on the one side and the consent of one man on the other side. Business consists of acts which are participated in by more than one man. In all such acts there is the appeal of one side for the consent of the other side. That appeal, and the securing of the consent, is salesmanship.
Salesmanship presupposes several things and conditions. There is the man who wishes to sell ; the man to whom the sale is sought to be made ; the goods that are offered for sale.
The man who wishes to sell has several things and conditions to consider: He must, first of all, know the man he wishes to sell to, in order that he may, by his arguments and representations, be able to favorably influence that man ; he must know his own powers and limitations, in order that he may use himself, as his tool, to the best advantage, and refrain from doing or saying anything that
will prejudice his prospect against his proposition ; he must know the goods he is offering in order that he may make his prospect realize the value and benefit they may be to him, and in order that he may dissipate any unfavorable predisposition there might exist in the mind of the prospect.
The man who is the buyër is not to be considered, except as a study for the man who is to sell. The art and science of salesmanship does not contemplate the transaction from the viewpoint of the buyer but from the viewpoint of the seller. Therefore, we are not going to waste time with him, though he is, in a large sense, the most vital element in the sale.
The goods form the second greatest factor in the education and power of the salesman, and they will be dealt with in that sequence.
The salesman has to find the man to sell to. The finding of the customer is the province of advertising. The exploitation of the goods, and the persuasion of the prospect to buy, is the province of salesmanship, if the two functions are to be divided.
Advertising is concerned with many of the same acts and functions that the salesman is concerned with when he makes a personal sale ; and advertising is also concerned with the goods, and the nature of the men who are to be the buyers. Advertising has also to study to influence the man who buys, though in a different manner and under different conditions. In this, advertising is the more difficult and subtle variety of salesmanship. Advertising can make but one appeal to the reader, while the personal salesman can vary and modify and en-
force his appeal until he perceives that he is winning his customer.
The salesman must know the individual he is trying to influence. He must of course begin with a knowledge of mankind, then modify that by a knowledge of the particular type of man he has to deal with, and again modify that by the knowledge he gains of the individual he is talking to, and by his intuitions, which are aroused by his personal contact, and modified and directed by experience and observation.
The advertiser can never make his appeal to a man. He must ever speak to men. He may appeal to a class, but never to an individual. He loses, therefore, the help of those very intuitive efforts which are so vitally important in the work of the personal salesman ; and he must in some way compensate himself.
The great fact of the direct personal contact working for the advantage of the personal salesman, and the absence of that contact in the work of the advertiser, differentiates the two varieties of salesmanship, and very clearly indicates the field of the advertiser, and the nature of his effort.
Yet along the great primary lines, up to a certain point in the refinement of the principles of salesmanship, the salesman and the advertiser must be fellow students, in the same class and using the same textbooks.
It is more important that the salesman (for the present the term salesman is used to include the salesman proper and the advertiser as well) first seek to know men, in so far as that knowledge is calculated to show him how he is to influence men. For this purpose it is necessary that the student consest to appeal to the pedagog, and dip into psychology. We only wish to know a few of the more manifest traits that are common to all men. We wish to know how the mind works, of itself and automatically. We want to know what pleases men in general, and how to get at them in the most agreeable way, and in the quickest way. The college professors of psychology have much to tell the salesman along these lines, and we cannot get the information elsewhere, except we are
willing to spend years painfully digging for that which we can get from books in a short time.
The student of salesmanship need not go further into this interesting study than will enable him to grasp the conclusions that are useful to him. He may, and should, neglect the laborious processes that lead up to and substantiate the conclusions. He should be content, for example, with the conclusion that the mind seeks to make a decision the very moment that a proposition is presented to it, irrespective of the weight or volume of argument or proof that may follow the proposition, to substantiate or discredit it. His cue is to know this fact and to shape his work to catch the motor action of the mind and guide it toward a decision favorable to him. His profit in this psychological fact is in the assurance that the first impression he makes upon his prospect must be a favorable one, in order that he may have the assistance of the motor principle, which", is common to all men, and which does not wait for the judgment or tfoe> reason, or for expediency, or any otlier manifestation of the maturing purpose of the prospect.
To get the full benefit of the operationof this primary principle it is necessary that the student go far enough into psychology to understand what it is and, in a general way, how it works. Read some good popular work on psychology, like the admirable textbook by Prof. William James.
While the student is seeking to understand the working of the motor principle, let him also turn to elementary works on art to find out what forms are primarily most agreeable to us, as we get them through our vision. It is an interesting fact that certain forms are agreeable to us, while certain others are very disagreeable. The salesman must know this, in order to approach his prospect in a fav' orable light. It is evident that the chief value of these art forms is to the advertiser, and the subject will be more fully discussed when we come to separate the advertiser from the salesman.
The point here is that the salesman must, first of all, find out all he can in relation to the men to whom he is to sell
his goods. In doing this he must draw upon all possible sources of information. Pure science has much to teach him. Psychology is loaded with facts that are of the greatest importance, as is ethnology, and especially art. We are claiming that salesmanship partakes in all the activities of man. Science is the record of the conclusions of men who have made a study of the doings of men. It is peculiarly the property of the salesman, his vade mecum, his open road to power and success. There is not another calling which can possiblv profit more by the conclusions of science than salesmanship.
Let us therefore turn frankly to science and demand of her all the store of knowledge she has that we can utilize, without any of the mawkish sentimentality that professes to contemn the value of science in the transactions of everyday life and business.
Next to knowing the men he is expected to make his customers, it is of importance that the salesman should know himself, and be able to correctly estimate his own power as a salesman, which means his power to influence his fellowmen. This opens a great subject. It is much easier to estimate the other man than it is to estimate this man.
To know himself is also a subject that calls for the assistance of science, and for a great amount of resolute and thorough self-examination. It will not do to allow vanity to limit this work. The first thing a prospective salesman must do is to stand himself off, detach himself from himself, and analyze his own qualities and defects. He has got to be honest with himself. He has got to make a true inventory of his knowledge, his needs, and his capacity to absorb knowledge and to do good work.
Perhaps the most essential quality for the prospective salesman to possess, and to cultivate, is willingness to work. If the salesman is not willing to work hard, all the time, and study hard, all the time, lie had better not undertake to enter the business. It demands work, and hard work, and skilled work, and proficient work, all the time. When the salesman is not at work getting orders he ought to be at work getting himself in shape to get orders.
Salesmanship demands the old fashioned sort of study to prepare for it, and the old-fashioned sort of work to win success. It demands devotion, enthusiasm, singleness of purpose, and always hard and self-sacrificing work. It requires that the salesman shall have joy in his work. It depends upon these qualities for success more specifically and more completely than any other calling or profession, chiefly because it is what the salesman is that counts, more than what he knows and does. It is the salesman himself that sells, not the acts of the salesman.
Of course, it is not meant that the salesman is to get none of the joy in life. He should get all the joy possible. He should get more of the pure enjoyment of life than other professions, because it is the joy of life that makes power for the men who enjoy it.
The salesman should be very good to himself : In the matter of health, because the healthy man has more power over his fellows ; in the matter of morals, because the moral man has more power over his fellows ; in the matter of temperament, because the man with a cheerful and optimistic temperament has more power over his fellows ; in the matter of dress, because the well-dressed man has more power over his fellows ; and in all matters that tend to make a big and wholesome, and sweet, and happy man, because such a man has more power over his fellows. The fundamentals of good salesmanship are the man himself, and his knowledge of and sympathy with the people to whom he must sell his goods.
The third major element in the salesman’s education is the goods he is to attempt to sell. He must know the goods, and all about them ; not onlv the goods themselves, but all the conditions that influence their sale and use. If the salesman is to handle cotton piece-goods, for example, he must know all about the cotton they are made of, and all about the conditions of its growth and handling, as well as about its relative goodness and adaptability for the particular goods it is made up into. And he must know all about all other kinds of cotton, and other kinds of goods that may be used in substitution for his own. He must be able
to place his own goods in their proper relation to all others in the market, and give a perfectly adequate reason for all that he says and claims regarding his own goods.
The salesman’s knowledge of his goods must extend far beyond the goods themselves, and include the people who are to use the goods, the various uses they may be put to, the possible market for them, the special market the customer of the moment must cater for, the methods for retail selling that have been found most effective, and the many other elements that bear upon the sale of the goods with direct or indirect force, and make for the success or failure of the salesman.
These are the things the salesman has to learn. There are other qualities that are perhaps more essential, at least at the first. They are in the nature of fundamental resolutions, the personal basis upon which all of the executive capacity of the salesman must be built; and like the foundation for any structure, they must be solid and well laid.
The very bottom quality of the good salesman must be hope. If he has not hope, does not cultivate, and cherish, and cling to, and depend upon hope, he will not succeed, in salesmanship or anything else. When he embarks upon the career of a salesman he must hope for success, and there must never be a moment when he does not hope. It is the foundation. Without hope the salesman tries to build his house of success upon the sand of foreordained failure.
To bring hope a step toward its practical office, there must be faith. The salesman must have faith in himself, in his goods, in the people he is dealing with, in the house he works for, and in his “star.” Faith we know works wonders. It will do as much for the salesman as it ever did for the children of Israel, or as it is reputed to do for the followers of Mrs. Eddy; as much as it does for the Emmanuel church patients, in Boston; as much as it did for Elisha; as much as it was promised to do for those who were told that through faith they could remove mountains and subdue kingdoms. Faith is power. If the salesman has faith in his goods and in
his proposition he can sell his goods; if he has not that faith he cannot sell the goods, to the same extent.
But the salesman should have faith in a more general sense than that. He must have faith in things in general, in the scheme of life, in the future of the race, in his own future and power, in the man he is talking with, in the country, in the city, in mankind, and in the general plan and scope of the universe. It is the disposition that counts, and that must be permeated with faith, even from the greatest to the most insignificant of things, traits, emotions, habits, and predilections. The salesman must be faith personified
The salesman must have determination, to make hope and faith work for him in a practical way and all of the time. Hope and faith are very admirable qualities, even when they are only academical qualities. But we wish to put them to practical use, and so we must drive them with determination. We must “keep everlastingly at it,” and keep hope and faith practically at work by backing them with determination.
Even determination will fail unless we push it all the time, unless we have also persistence. It is self-descriptive. It completes the cycle of qualities that we are to put at the foundation of all of the knowledge of the people, of ourselves, of the goods, to make that knowledge contribute directly to the success of the salesman.
These varieties of knowledge, sustained and made operative by these elements of the salesman’s motive power, will, when properly applied by the ambitious and willing salesman, bring success to him. They cover and embrace the whole of the law and the gospel of salesmanship ; always, of course, providing that there is promising material in the salesman himself upon which they can work. If there is not a reasonable expectation that the potential salesman is big enough, broad enough, willing enough, to work out this program for his benefit, then he must not try.
Advertising is indeed, as is constantly claimed for it, “salesmanship on paper,” but with a great difference.
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