The Most Important Lessons in Sales
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You Sell. Get Over It. Now Embrace it.
Sales is the largest function of Business. It is also, for most people (and apparently, academic organizations) the scariest. Sales has a mystique and a complicated reputation—we all need to sell, we all do sell, yet few people truly embrace it. In that hesitation, we lose our opportunity to be great.
Without embracing sales, it’s difficult to become masterful at selling. Yet being likable and persuasive (sales at it’s most basic) are possibly the most broadly beneficial skills that are within our power to cultivate in ourselves.
With that in mind, let’s dig into some of the best sales lessons possible, short of picking up the phone or knocking on a door (which is the best way to get better.)
Golden Rules of Sales
Whether you’re selling lemonade in your driveway (probably as a kid… hopefully as a kid) selling your company to Google, or trying to get your kid to put on pants, there are some ideas that always apply. Let’s start with the Golden Rules of Sales.
Do you like me? Or do you ‘like me’ like me?
To gain enough credibility to be persuasive with someone, being likable is the first step. This seems simple and perhaps obvious, and it’s still worth talking about because of the sneaky and powerful psychological results. Here’s a word from Charlie Munger on our tendency to create and protect ‘liking’
One very practical consequence of Liking/Loving Tendency is that it acts as a conditioning device that makes the liker or lover tend (1) to ignore the faults of, and comply with wishes of, the object of his affection, (2) to favor people, products, and actions merely associated with the object of his affection (as we shall see when we get to “Influence-from-Mere-Association Tendency,” and (3) to distort other facts to facilitate liking/loving.
As you can see, these effects in the context of a sale can significantly lower the threshold of being convincing. If someone can be likeable, whatever they are selling is also immediately more attractive, and prospects are likely to distort their perspectives to be accommodating.
Being likable isn’t a genetic condition—it’s something learned. Some people learn it early through charismatic parents or friends, some intuit it through interaction, and some learn it late or not at all. It may seem like a strange thing to learn about from books or posts, but it’s an important piece of successful selling.
The classic book on likability is the terribly-titled “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” It’s a simple book full of simple ideas on creating likability. On a first reading a few years ago, everything in it seemed so obvious that it felt unhelpful. Re-reading it now, it’s more clear that even if we know these principles, it requires enormous discipline to keep them in practice. This book is always worth reading again. (Seriously, I know the title feels terrible and you don’t want to go near it, but get over it—it’s worth it.)
To complement the classic, here are a few shorter companion pieces that touch on similar subjects.
Enchantment is a book by Guy Kawasaki about developing influence, and being likable is a key piece of this, which he talks about in the beginning of this fantastic hour-long lecture at Stanford. He has some great tips on finer points of likability like handshakes, smiles, dressing. Also, Kawasaki has points about communication, such as ‘Using Salient Points’—the language that is used to talk about a product. The most famous example is Apple advertising 10,000 songs instead of 24 GB, and another brilliant one he mentions is setting a thermostat for Heating cost rather than degrees.
Building rapport and being likable are not just skills for the business world—these lessons come from Robin Dreeke, who is the lead instructor for the FBI’s Counterintelligence Training Center and teaches behavioral and interpersonal skills, which sounds badass. He wrote a book called “It’s not all about Me” which (I believe) should be called “How to Persuade and Seduce like a Super-spy”. This summary from Farnam Street has an outline of the best points of the book.
Understanding Psychological Forces in Sales
In any decision, there are strong psychological forces acting upon the prospect. It’s crucial for us to understand what these forces are and how they can influence decisions. Some can be used to increase the likelihood of a sale, and others must be avoided to keep from triggering tendencies that paralyze prospects. Learn where the landmines are, and where to find powerful tools to increase influence.
The best book ever written about these persuasive psychological forces is Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini. It’s a ridiculously important book jam-packed with knowledge from psychology experiments and practical applications in the sales world—this book will teach you more about reasons behind the things we do than anything else.
As one example here, let’s look at Reciprocation. This is our evolutionarily-developed tendency to return a favor when someone does one for us. Have you ever seen an infomercial offer you a free gift? Or had someone at Costco offer you free samples? These are subtle triggers to cue a prospect’s reciprocation tendency to be more accommodating to purchase.
Even cooler? It’s not societal, it’s human. Here’s an excerpt from Influence:
The impressive aspect of the rule for reciprocation and the sense of obligation that goes with it is it’s pervasiveness in human culture. It is so widespread that after intensive study, sociologists such as Alvin Gouldner can report that there is no human society that does not subscribe to the rule.
This book has countless stories about how seemingly small psychological forces are leveraged to entice a purchasing action. Here’s one story of an ingenious retailer:
The Indiana Supermarket operator sold an astounding one thousand pounds of cheese in a few hours one day by putting out the cheese and inviting customers to cut off slivers for themselves as free samples.
He not only gave them cheese—he let them take as much as they wanted! That part is important—the force of the reciprocation tendency had people buying cheese to reward him for his trust and generosity.
Reciprocation is only one of six incredible ‘Weapons of Influence’ (as Cialdini calls them) that are covered in the book. Each one of them is exciting, interesting, and powerful in it’s applications. The book is full of stories about Sales programs based on these psychological forces, each fascinating and terrifying. If you don’t want to read this book to learn how to sell, you should still read it to learn how you’re being sold. Once again: Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion—it’s great and wildly important.
This book will get you off to a good start understanding a few of the psychological forces at play in sales—it’s crucial. Without knowing these forces, you’re like a blind baby guinea pig in a gunfight.
Selling is Negotiation
Don’t fall into the trap of viewing Sales as a ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ response to a fixed offer. Selling is finding the overlapping set of circumstances that create an agreeable arrangement to both parties—and that is Negotiation. Stuart Diamond says as much in the beginning of his book:
Let’s start our journey with a new definition of what negotiation is. First, done right, there is no difference between “negotiation,” “persuasion,” “communication,” or “selling.” They all should have the same process. that is, they should start with goals, focus on people, and be situational.
Getting More has become a negotiation classic in it’s first few years in publication. It’s been recommended a number of times by good friends who found it helpful in their daily lives as well as Sales situations.
One of many gems from this book is this idea: Make Emotional Payments
The world is irrational. And the more important a negotiation is to an individual, the more irrational he or she often becomes: whether in world peace or a billion-dollar deal, or when your child wants an ice-cream cone. When people are irrational, they are emotional. When they are emotional, they can’t listen. When they can’t listen, they can’t be persuaded. So your words are useless, especially those arguments intended for rational or reasonable people, like “win-win.” You need to tap the other person’s emotional psyche with empathy, apologies if necessary, by valuing them or offering them other things that get them to think more clearly.
Another point Diamond emphasizes is that success depends on understanding the other party. It’s important to understand ‘the pictures in their heads’ and how they value different things.
You can’t persuade people of anything unless you know the pictures in their heads: their perception, sensibilities, needs, how they make their commitments, whether they are trustworthy.
Think of yourself as the least important person in the negotiation. You must do role reversal, putting yourself in their shoes and trying to put them in yours.
Google has a bromance with Stuart Diamond and is now using his book to teach their salesforce and other business development employees. Here’s a presentation at Google about Negotiation, for a taste of what’s in his book:
Advice from the Old School
How I raised myself from failure to Success in Selling is a little old school wisdom from Frank Bettger on the timeless art of sales—this book boasts a rare endorsement from Dale Carnegie (who wrote How to Win Friends), and is full of the knowledge that one earns from the bumps and bruises of a decade of learning and earning.
Here’s the endorsement from Max Olson, who recommended the book:
Old school “salesman” techniques and lots of good stuff — boils down to simple rules of thumb like: do more listening than talking; ask questions; help them clarify what they want then help them get it; find the single key issue (most vulnerable point) and focus only on that; and always do your homework (be prepared).
A great complement to our other resources, important because often the timeless wisdom is the most valuable!
Inspiring Sales Stories
Sales is best learned in action—either as prospect or salesperson. To truly get better, get out there. For inspiration to keep working on it, or to find something new to try out, reading or watching heroic sales stories can keep the fire going!
Being a sucker is a good way to learn
This is a short and amazing story from Dan Kang about how he was talked out of $100. Walking by a salesperson, Dan asked an innocent question and walked away with a bag full of overpriced skin care products. His post breaks down how he was maneuvered even as he knew what was happening. Dan learned some things about sales that day—$100 for being taken to Sales school isn’t so bad!
It’s fun and interesting to walk into stores and get pitched by salespeople. There’s always something to learn, positive or negative, from the experience. Careful though—the best lessons will be the most expensive!
Thanks to Max Olson for recommending this story to the Edition.
No Substitute for Hustle
Gabe and his team deserves some serious props. They started with nothing but a notepad and feet in their shoes and built a company doing over $25,000,000 in Sales. And they started with NOTHING.
Here’s the full story of how these guys got started and built their company. The most impressive part to me is these two paragraphs — the zero to one moment.
I started my most recent company six years ago with four yellow notepads and four pens. We didn’t have a Rolodex of business contacts. Heck, we didn’t even have a computer. But it didn’t matter — what we lacked in experience and money we more than made up for in cojones. Our dream was to start a marketplace that would connect homeowners with contractors who would compete for work. But we weren’t even sure there was a market for it. So we started knocking on doors.
That isn’t a metaphor. We literally knocked on hundreds of doors in Marin County asking people if they needed work done to their houses, and if so, how much they would pay. On our first day we got 10 leads, and the second day 10 more. We looked in the Yellow Pages and shopped around those leads with contractors. Three contractors bought the same leads on the spot for $80 apiece — and there was our seed funding. We were off to the races with no website or even a name for the company. Today, Home Improvement Leads is on track to top $25 million in sales without ever having taken a cent of outside investment.
The sales book about the Bigger Picture
A unique work among books about Sales is The Art of the Sale, by the wonderful Phillip Delves Broughton. It’s unique because of it’s breadth and honesty—Broughton is an author, not a Salesman, and this book reflects that. The effort put into research and travel all over the world is clear, and he expertly ties these experiences and ideas together for us.
Broughton explains his book this way:
What follows is not a lesson in how to sell. It is an effort to sort through the paradoxes and difficulties of this most fascinating of professions; to confront a subject that people often try to reduce to tricks, nuggets, and ten simple steps. Selling is the single largest function in business.
All over the world, from the most basic to the most advanced economies, selling is the horse that pulls the cart of business. It is both the most primitive and the most evolved aspect of economics life. It is ignored by business academics and is fraght with moral risk.
There are more lies told about selling than about any other aspect of business life. So I went in search of some truths. No absolutes or answers, but honesty.
I traveled widely in my search, because I wanted to be sure to think about selling not as a cultureal or industry-specific problem, but as a human practice, common across peoples and businesses. The traits required to sell (resilience, conviction, persistence, and likeability), are not just needed in business, but in life. I wanted to discover who can sell and how they do it.
Art of the Sale is an important book for understanding Sales as it fits into the business world and our society. Full of stories from all over the world and throughout history of great Salesmen, it shows their techniques and their triumphs which are each fascinating, instructive, and inspiring.
The Four Most Important Books in Sales
A short break to recap the past two sections. In addition to other resources, we highlighted four books. Each of these books is a juggernaut which illuminates one dimension of Sales. These lessons are applicable to ANY kind of sales, from basic persuasion to negotiating a contract. Let’s recap:
How to Win Friends & Influence People—teaches the skills of likability, connecting with people and communicating effectively.
Influence: Psychology of Persuasion—about the weapons of influence hidden in human psychology, and how these forces affect decision-making.
Getting More—Sales is negotiation, and this book teaches the tactics and techniques of negotiating an agreement that is beneficial for everyone.
The Art of the Sale—contextualizes Sales in our culture and our history, which gives weight to the pervasiveness and importance of Selling.
Combining these different perspectives drives each other lesson deeper. Reading these four books with focus and determination will turn anyone into a Sales powerhouse, whether you’re selling yachts or frozen bananas.
Everyone has something to gain from these books, and they can be read in less than one month for under fifty dollars. The next 30 days and those $50 will provide a better return on investment than anything else you’ve ever bought. (Except for condoms, probably. Huge ROI. A joke, but also true.)
Disagree or have something to add to the list? Join Evergreen and add your suggestions to the next edition.
Sales Tactics from the Professionals
While everything so far isn’t particularly context-dependent, much of a sale changes based on the situation. We’ll get into tactics from experts in their industry, so these may be intended for a narrower set of circumstances.
The 7-touch Rule of Sales
This brief post (also by Phillip Delves Broughton) riffs off of Atul Gawande’s New Yorker piece about the spread of Slow Ideas. Different products have varying ‘payoffs’, some of which are immediate and some that take longer to become obvious. For products whose payoffs are delayed, sales efforts are higher and more touches are required from the salesperson.
I once asked a pharmaceutical rep how he persuaded doctors — who are notoriously stubborn — to adopt a new medicine. Evidence is not remotely enough, he said, however strong a case you may have. You must also apply “the rule of seven touches.” Personally “touch” the doctors seven times, and they will come to know you; if they know you, they might trust you; and, if they trust you, they will change. That’s why he stocked doctors’ closets with free drug samples in person. Then he could poke his head around the corner and ask, “So how did your daughter Debbie’s soccer game go?” Eventually, this can become “Have you seen this study on our new drug? How about giving it a try?” As the rep had recognized, human interaction is the key force in overcoming resistance and speeding change.
A common mistake is to underestimate the amount of touches a sale will take and become discouraged at 3 or 4 touches without a response. Progress happens after more touches than seem comfortable to Salespeople at first.
Remember that we’re not the most important thing in their day—we’re fighting for scraps of time in the early stages of a sale, and we must have empathy for whatever else is going on in their life and never be indignant about their lack of response.
Persistence and patience will bring in Sales—don’t give up too early. This pairs very interestingly with the following section…
Get to No (also, collecting ‘No’ & Achieving ‘No’)
One of the counterintuitive yet important points is that hearing No from a prospect is better than a Maybe. This was mentioned in a few resources, and echoed by people in various industries. Here’s one good post about it by Rick Morrison. The reason behind this is that as a salesperson, time is your currency, and if you spend it on Maybes, you won’t be closing new leads.
A maybe is most likely to stay a Maybe. It appears as though it’s closer to Yes than a cold lead, but moving a Maybe to a Yes is much harder in practice than it seems conceptually, because of the personality of a Maybe—indecisive, non-committal, likely to be flaky or flighty and waste your time. Get to Yes or get to No. Give Maybe’s a deadline or make the No decision for them.
“You die when you have a thousand Maybe’s.”
The above quote is from Tyler Bosmeny’s talk at Stanford’s How to Start a Startup. Both of these sources talk about getting a No quickly—and pushing hard to get there, not interpreting a few non-responses as a No.
This policy of getting to No as fast as possible has other benefits. For one, it keeps you from compromising to accommodate special requests—deals that require conditions are No’s.
Also, it makes a No something to celebrate—it’s not a rejection, it’s a conclusion. Conclusions are good things. Some sales teams take this even farther by ‘Collecting Nos’. Getting a No is an integral part of Sales, nothing to be feared or ashamed of. Getting a No means you are closer to the next Yes, so collecting No’s and treating them as an accomplishment pulls a psychological Judo move on rejection and makes the job easier, more fun, and more efficient.
“After the final No there comes a Yes and on that Yes, the future world depends” —Wallace Stevens
Part of what makes Sales so difficult is that setbacks are accompanied with another human being telling you ‘No’, and sometimes being upset. We’re evolved to dislike upsetting other people—humans are meant to work together. (Remember the reciprocation tendency earlier?)
Imagine that our computers had a human voice yell “No you’re doing it wrong! I don’t like it!” if you typed an equation or a word incorrectly—other jobs would get hard in a hurry. There are emotional challenges in Sales that other jobs don’t have, and perspective-shifting tricks like ‘Collecting No’ can help ease that burden and keep Sales teams moving forward effectively.
Another great perspective from Matt Ellsworth depicts the Sales process as a Pendulum. In his post Getting Past Maybe, Ellsworth talks about the importance of momentum and timing, and some techniques to keep moving. We’ll end this section with a concise and important point from Ellsworth:
“Time kills all deals” -Said every sales manager ever.
Dan Pink on How Sales is Changing
In Dan Pink’s book, To Sell is Human, he explains that in the past when information was imperfect, Selling was completely different than we will now experience, where buyers have an opportunity to become perfectly educated about the situation (price/quality/competitors/etc.)
Pink creates a new Framework of how to think about the Sales process in this new world of enlightened buyers. The book is highly recommended, and you can get an idea of what awaits you in this fantastic summary from Farnam Street.
Thanks to Max Olson for suggesting this book!
How to Get on Fire while Cold Calling
Some people are deeply afraid of Cold Calling, and that’s partly why it’s such a valuable skill to be good at.
Surprisingly, some of the most important advice on Cold Calling isn’t about what you say. Here are some tips about how body language affects your confidence and tone and therefore your ability to close.
Smile and Dial: Smiling affects how we speak, and people can hear a smile in your voice, and it makes them more inclined to trust you and like you!
Stand strong, chin up, walk tall—Amy Cuddy’s Ted Talk about how body language shapes who we are is particularly applicable during sales, even over the phone.
This post from Yesware has some additional helpful tips for Cold Calling!
Acronyms, Frameworks, and Acronyms
Sales teams operating without a common framework or system is to invite chaos. A shared structure ensures that the team is telling all prospects roughly the same story, as well as creating a common language for them to share status and show some transparency in to the progress being made.
Building your Selling Story
The first step to actually selling a product is to understand what pieces are most important for prospects to grasp. This comes from discovering their most acute pain points and matching them to solutions. From that, a narrative is built.
This post on First Round is a fantastic resource on building a narrative, including examples from Groupon, Salesforce, and more. It uses this framework to create the story that prospects will hear:
I am a fan of the Problem — Solution — Specifics framework:
Identify your problem: What are the pain points you want to solve? Who has them? How are they currently solved or not?
Solution: What has changed to make new solutions to your problem available? How does your new solution work to solve the problem?
Specifics: What are the quantitative and qualitative proof points that validate your argument?
These three steps will make up the skeleton of your narrative.
Writing out the answers to these questions, and changing them periodically as you learn more based on customer responses is a habit that creates a continuously evolving and improving pitch.
Here are all of the Acronyms
It appears that someone decided that the process of a Sale was impossible to follow without the perfect acronym, which we’re still in pursuit of. Along the way, we’ve accumulated dozen (hundreds, no doubt) of Sales Frameworks.
From the classic from “Glenn Gary, Glenn Ross,” the classic AIDA—Attention, Interest, Decision, Action.
Others are more specific about what steps are necessary to complete the sale. MEDDICC, for example from this Podcast suggested by Matthew Frost breaks it into the following checklist:
- Economic Buyer
- Identifying the Pain
Really, this is a checklist for thinking through the possible hangups of completing a sale. Another version of the Sales Framework comes from Mark Suster, whose acronym of choice is PUCCKA:
- Unique Selling Propostion
- Compelling Event
- Key Players
- Aligned Purchasing Process
Which of these frameworks you use doesn’t seem particularly important—it’s the process of creating a list and working it that makes it powerful. Atul Gawande says as much in his book, The Checklist Manifesto, which is a great read for anyone working with Checklists like these frameworks.
The Simplest Framework
This short post from Mark Cranney on the Andreesen Horowitz blog is about Saas sales on the surface, but it features a very intuitive and simple sales Framework. It opens with this very insightful distinction on the purpose of Sales.
Some people think the sales force’s job is to communicate value to customers. To these people, sales is about buying a bunch of search ad words or mouthpiecing a company’s message.
The true purpose of sales is to create new value for customers.
Cranney explains that Sales is about discovering ways to solve problems for customers using the company’s products—that’s different than Show & Tell. He goes on to introduce this simple framework, the three things every customer wants to know:
- Why Buy Anything?
- Why Buy from you?
- Why Buy Now?
Answer these questions, and that’s the Sale—imagine the most simple scenario for a sale, a waiter explaining a dessert. Rather than the normal “anyone interested in dessert?” with a tone that already assumes a ‘No’, imagine your waiter says this:
Very happy see you enjoyed that meal folks! I brought you a dessert menu because it sounds like you’re celebrating and you deserve to treat yourselves—let me tell you, we have the best Chocolate Mousse in town. It’s special because we import the chocolate directly from Switzerland—we’re the only place in town that has it! It’s been really popular recently, and we’ll be out for the season next week. Shall I put an order or two in for you?
Yep. Bring me the Mousse!
Building Sales Teams—For Managers
Companies need more than great individual salespeople to succeed, they must create great systems and organizations. This means they need to learn to hire well, train well, fire well, and more.
The Harvard Business Review published this article: Is your Sales Organization Good or Great? It lists a few effects that can create highly effective teams—some were a little surprising:
United Against a Common Enemy. I have found the best sales organizations, those who are driven to succeed against all obstacles and odds, have an archrival competitor whom they both resent and fear. This is actually a very important differentiator since it drives individual behavior. As a result, there is a higher win ratio because accounts are pursued with greater preparation, higher intensity, and a life or death seriousness.
Some of these (such as the common enemy) aren’t possible to create from within, but others on the list (DIY Attitude and Darwinian Culture) are completely within control of the management to create.
How can Culture be created to embody these values that make a Great Organization? Hire for them, and ensure they stay in place with processes.
Hiring Sales People
Hiring for Sales is different from other hires. Skill is both hard to assess and more fluid. The consequences are lower for a mistake, and the onboarding is usually cheaper. Ben Horowitz has this excellent (short) post about Hiring Sales People.
In a sales hire, the hiring manager should look for specific personality traits, more than any particular experience or skill:
Specifically, great sales people must be courageous, competitive and hungry. They also need enough intelligence to get the job done. That’s the magic formula. Hire engineers with that profile and you’ll fail. Hire sales people who are really smart problem solvers, but lack courage, hunger and competitiveness, and your company will go out of business.
Thanks to Teddy Zetterlund for suggesting this post from Ben Horowitz.
How to Hire for Sales
This mountain of a post from Wiley Cerilli (who gets street cred for starting his career on door-to-door sales) is a lifetime of wisdom in building a great Sales organization. He’s got 11 of his 39 pieces of advice about hiring, which are all absolutely on point.
Cerilli also has a profile that he looks for when hiring:
You want new hires to be young and hungry. “You want someone who has a bit of a chip on their shoulder — I call it Tom Brady Syndrome. He was drafted so late that he’s now out to prove what a great quarterback he is. Often, we’ll hire people out of Ivy League schools who don’t have that much to prove, so they aren’t that motivated.”
Also, he asks these three questions in every Sales Interview:
1) Did you have a lemonade stand growing up? “Believe it or not, 95% of the people I’ve hired had lemonade stands when they were kids. They were born entrepreneurs.”
2) “Sell me something that’s in this room right now. Make up whatever you want, but sell me the chair that you’re sitting on. Now tell me why I should buy ketchup instead of mustard. Ok great, now sell me mustard over ketchup.” These are the best questions for getting at someone’s innate creativity and versatility.
3) If there was a movie made about you, who would play you? What would your theme song be? What would you title your autobiography? “You can pick up so much about someone’s confidence and how they perceive themselves from questions like that,” Cerilli says. “You want someone who can think on their feet, be witty at the drop of a hat, keep you engaged.”
There’s a ton of great ideas in this post, so take the time to read it if the scaling process is applicable to you.
Another consideration of hiring sales people: Peter Thiel’s 10x rule applies. He points out that there are engineers who are worth 10x as much as the average engineer, and the same goes for Sales people. Someone out there can elevate your whole team and smash your expectations of the possible.
This idea (and following one) from Tren Griffin’s post, A Dozen things I’ve learned about Marketing, Distribution and Sales, suggested by Max Olson.
Every Person in your Company is in Sales
As Larry Ellison says: “In a great company everybody sells — not just the salespeople.” This is becoming more true as we become more connected, and customers and see deeper into organizations.
Not only should everyone be selling, they are selling—and if they don’t think they are, that means they’re doing a terrible job of it. The company needs sales, and it’s in every employee’s best interest to increase that top line.
One fantastic example of a company that truly understands and embodies this practice is Smart Bear Software. Take a look at this post (great suggestion by Nathan Bashaw) from their Founder, Jason Cohen: Tech Support *is* Sales.
You could say the purpose of tech support is to answer questions or to unstick people who are confused, but I say the purpose of tech support is to make your customers fantastic at their jobs, which happen to involve your product.
Sound familiar? It’s a lot like ‘create value for customers.’
That’s the name of this whole game: that’s Sales. Find the problems and create value by solving them. That requires understanding the problems deeply, then clearly communicating and enacting a solution in a way that leaves the customer better off.
We should each find every opportunity to be engaging in that kind of honorable activity. If it comes with some bumps and bruises to the ego along the way—so be it. It builds character.
Final Words of Wisdom
[As before,] One of my very favorite books is Letters from a Self-Made Merchant to his Son. It’s a compilation of letters from a Father who built his business in the meatpacking industry in the late 1800s. He’s writing to his son as he goes through college, begins working, and building his life. It’s simple and direct advice on many parts of life, and he’s got some timeless advice about Sales. It seemed fitting to end with some of his Excerpts:
A real Salesman is one-part talk and nine-parts judgement; and he uses the nine-parts of judgement to tell him when to use the one-part talk.
Don’t get on your knees for business, but don’t hold your nose so high in the air that an order can travel under it without your seeing it. You’ll meet a good many people on the road that you won’t like, but the house needs their business.
When business is good, that is the time to force, it because it will come easy; and when it is bad, that is the time to force it too, because we will need the orders.
Some Salesmen think that selling is like eating—to satisfy and existing appetite; but a good salesman is like a good cook—he can create an appetite when the buyer isn’t hungry.
If you enjoyed this, you’ll get more like it by joining Evergreen:
My Other Projects
Upcoming Book: The Almanack of Naval Ravikant
Mini-book: Career Advice for Uniquely Ambitious People
Massive appreciation for who suggested pieces of content for this Edition of Evergreen: Max Olson, Nathan Bashaw, Teddy Zetterlund, David Kircos, Mark Costigan, Drew Schwarz, Matthew Frost, Aaron Wolfson, and Andrew Warner.
Many thanks for being a part of this project! Not every suggestion is able to make it to the final edit, but every single suggestion is read and appreciated.
As my Father always says: “There’s always room for the best.” There’s always a better resource out there. These collections can always get better, and I hope that they do. If you can think of anything that was missed, I welcome you to share it.
If you liked this, check out other Editions of Evergreen:
Building and Managing a Team:
How to Find and Recruit the Team you Need
How Not to Hire like a Clownshow
Compensation Rules Everything Around Me
Why Employee Onboarding is holding you back
How to Boost Employee Retention
How Performance Reviews are being Reinvented
Secrets to Perfecting Organizational Communication
How to Manage Scale, and Operate in Scaling Organizations
How to Fire an Employee
What you actually need to know about Company Culture
How to Interview Prospective Hires
Strategy and Competitive Advantage:
How to Master the Craft of Strategy
Competitive Advantage: How to Build a Winning Business
The Power of Network Effects
How Cost Leadership Builds Powerful Businesses
Why the Best Brands Stand Out
Scale as Competitive Advantage
Barriers to Entry are Confusing
Flywheel Effect: Meta-Competitive Advantage
Building the Business:
How to get good business Ideas: Mental Alchemy of Ideation
How to Choose the Right Business Ideas
Product/Market Fit: What it really means & How to Measure it
How to Failure-proof your business with Customer Development
How Strategy and Psychology Work Together to Perfect Pricing
The Most Important Equations in Business - CAC (Part 1)
The Simple Math Behind Every Profitable Business - CLV (Part 2)
How Psychology behind Word-of-Mouth Works
The Secret Core of Every Successful Business--Distribution
The Most Important Lessons in Sales
Why Value Creation is the Foundation of Business
Why Value Capture is the most important idea you haven't read about
The Misunderstood and Underestimated Genius of Advertising
How to be a Great Human:
How to Start a New Job: Handling Career Transitions like a Boss
How to Master the Discipline of Product Management
The Ancient Origins of Storytelling, and how to Apply Them
How to Prioritize Using These 9 Mental Models
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