Sales Moves

Want to be a sales master? Study other sales masters!

June 12, 2015
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The book “America’s Twelve Master Salesmen” was written and published by B.C. Forbes & Sons in 1953. Yes, there were women mentioned in the book, but in those days, “men” was the universal gender. Today, it’s quite the opposite.

The book was based on the fact that each one of these master salespeople had one extremely powerful overriding principle or philosophy upon which his or her success was based.

Last week I presented the first five masters, and this week I am presenting four more. There are 12.5 in all (me being the .5, of course).

Back to the book. Suppose you could adopt (or adapt) all of these masters’ single best characteristics into your own set of capabilities. That would be power.

And so, to challenge your 2015, here are four more masters’ philosophies from 1953.

6. Alfred E. Lyon (street salesman in Manhattan and later corporate executive): Principle: “Sell yourself first.”

“Remember, your customers don’t buy your product. They buy you. If they buy you, they will sell your product for you.” His approach of, “I treat my potential customers as I would treat a stranger whom I wanted to be my friend,” was a benchmark for his success. He realized that people buy from people they like. All he did was get people to like him, and the rest was easy.

Note: As CEO of Phillip Morris, he created the infamous “Phillip Morris Man” Johnny Roventini (known as a “living trademark”), and the slogan, “Call for Phillip Morris.”

7. Arthur H. “Red” Motley: Principle: “Nothing happens until somebody sells something.”

Motley sold for the Fuller Brush Co. door-to-door in the 1920s; he sold cough syrup with a traveling medicine show; he sold advertising for Collier’s Magazine; he founded Parade Magazine (still in existence today, inserted into Sunday papers); and he created an (maybe THE) all-time legendary philosophy of sales.

As a trainer in the ’40s and ’50s, Motley created a simple 15-word sales course that covered every element important to beginner or master:

1. Know your product.

2. See a lot of people.

3. Ask all to buy.

4. Use common sense.

Remember this was the 1940s: no TV, no computer, no credit cards, no Apple Watch, no smartphone and no Internet. People actually wrote letters.

At the end of his working career, he became one of the most sought-after sales speakers and trainers in the world.

He had another philosophy: “One of the reasons we do so much business in America is because we have learned not to make the customer wait. Waits created that remain unsatisfied for any appreciable length of time usually die.”

Pity he wasn’t around today to hear “Your call will be answered in the order in which it was received.”

8. Dr. Norman Vincent Peale: Principle: “Have faith in people — they are basically good.”

Author of the timeless classic, “The Power of Positive Thinking,” Peale used the pulpit to preach the importance and the personal power of achievement through attaining a positive attitude. The spirit and the spirituality of attitude and the success it can bring are timeless — and even more needed today than 50 years ago.

If you just get Dr. Peale’s book and read two pages a day for a year or so, you’re on the right path.

Bonus fact: If you’re ever in New York City, you can visit his church at the corner of 29th and Fifth Avenue. Peale’s statue tells you you’re in the right place.

9. Winthrop Smith: Principle: “The Queen is in the counting house …”

Known for publishing the free booklet and running free seminars on “What You Should Know About Stocks and Bonds,” Smith, president of what is known today as Merrill Lynch, created an “everyman’s” desire for investing.

His passion was to teach people about the power of their own money and how they could invest it to secure their future income. He did, and they invested in stocks and bonds with his firm. His associates nicknamed him “Win.” Not short for Winthrop — short for winner. He became a winner by helping others win.

NOTE: Smith was one of the original founders of Merril Lynch, known then as Merril Lynch, Pierce, Fenner and Smith.

In 1976, I remarked to one of my mentors that he seemed to have a lot of luck. Every project he undertook seemed to end up golden. He smiled and replied, “Hard work makes luck.” Those words have stuck with me since.

The last (and best of) the masters will be here same time, next week. Stay tuned.

Free GitBit. The author of “America’s Twelve Master Salesmen,” the late great B.C. Forbes, had a formula for sales. It’s yours for the taking. Go to and enter FORBES in the GitBit box.Jeffrey Gitomer is the author of 12 best-selling books. His real-world ideas also are available as online courses at For information about training and seminars, visit or, or email Jeffrey at

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