Algebra provides lessons in solving things logically

June 14, 2010
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When the time comes that I have more money than I need (which these days seems further away than it did a few years ago), I want to travel around the world and speak to high school freshmen and sophomores — ninth and tenth graders.

I want to talk to them about the hidden power of mathematics. In math of all sorts, you’re given problems to solve. In the beginning, they’re easy: add, subtract, multiply and divide. Then come fractions. But still the same big four solve all the problems.

Then comes algebra. And a whole new language of math appears. It’s pretty confusing at first, but as you’re given each series of similar problems to solve and you begin to work them, at some point you “get it” and can figure out the answers to the rest relatively quickly.

Many people say, “Why do I have to take algebra? I’ll never use it in my real life.” That may be the most incorrect statement of your life. Algebra teaches you to solve problems logically.

When you’re given a math problem, here’s what happens:

1. You study it to see if you know how to solve it or not.

2. If yes, you go to the next step of using the prescribed system, process, formula or answer path to solve it.

2.5 If no, you have to do additional study and research to figure out or learn how to solve it, then go back to step 2 and come up with the correct answer.

“Jeffrey, what’s your point?” you whine. “Come on, I’ve got a quota to meet, cold calls to make, e-mails to follow up on and voice mails to leave that will most likely go unanswered. Help me with the real stuff here.”

Relax Euclid breath. This is a “big picture answer” that transcends your self-created sense of urgency and lack of sales dilemma.

Math is a science: a logic-based, formula-based science.

Selling is also a science: an emotion-based science.

In sales, business and life, you are presented with problems and obstacles. You may know them as customers, competition, bosses, coworkers, service issues, complaints, overcoming objections, and other sales and business hurdles that you must solve or resolve in order to have a successful transaction or resolution.

It’s the logical side of what would otherwise be seen as an emotional process. Emotion is to engage, show your passion, your love and belief, be compelling, prove by example, congratulate when completed and celebrate the victory.

I admit, I’m an emotional salesman, but I am a superior salesman because I am able to add the understanding of logic into the total sales and relationship building process.

The reason you need to study math is that it provides you with the logical side and the thinking side of the sale.

From the customer side of the decision, the simple rule is: The sale is made emotionally and then justified logically. (First you say, “I love this house.” Then you say, “I wonder if we can afford it?”)

“Eh, what’s up doc?” is the emotional opener. In the world of logic, the question converts to, “What’s up, Spock?”

If you want to rediscover how logic fits into your selling, business and life process, go back to your algebra class and you will find the answers:

Math taught you to think about the solution or the answer logically and use the process or the formula to come up with an answer.

Math taught you to see if the answer applies to all the problems or if there are exceptions.

Math taught you to think about and visualize your moves in advance. (Chess is a great example for thinking three moves in advance; so is predictable customer service after a sale.)

Math taught you to see elements of the solution, the answer or the probable outcome in advance.

Math lets you see that there’s always a way to solve the problem and arrive at the desired result. Math logic says if you study it hard enough and deep enough, you can find — or should I say, discover — the answer.

Math taught you to solve problems logically, and you will continue to face problems the rest of your life, in every aspect of your life. Your job is to balance the emotional side and derive the best resolve.

These math awareness bites will help you understand why you should have paid more attention in your math classes. And these are the messages I’d like to deliver to every high school kid in America.

Free Git-Bit: If you want to see the Spock versus Bugs Bunny answer that will create more sales, go to and enter the word SPOCK in the GitBit box. Jeffrey Gitomer can be reached at (704) 333-1112 or e-mail

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