The India Journal of Mercuri International Jan - Mar 2017
How selling demands 'active patience'
Selling – Two centuries ago
The Navy Seal Art of War by Rob Roy
Active Patience Sells
Selling – Two centuries ago
Peddler in 1860s
No planes. No cars. Imagine a world with not even trains. Railroads meant short tracks for horse drawn carriages. That was the world of James Guild. In a society taking baby steps into the industrial age, most professions as we know them today, hadn’t taken shape. But James Guild was into a profession that was widely known and well settled
The year was 1818. James Guild was an independent peddler in USA, a euphemism for today’s salesperson. Walter A. Friedman’s Birth of a Salesman - The Transformation of Selling in America published by Harvard University Press in 2004 is a riveting account of the early days of the world’s oldest profession – Sales. Friedman has this fascinating description of what the ‘hawkers and walkers’ of those days did: “Guild was one of a number of Americans who, in the decades following the Revolution, were eager to travel and to engage in commercial activities, and looked to advance themselves through competition in the marketplace. Peddling was a popular occupation among young unmarried men, for it required little initial investment. Bronson Alcott and other Americans took to the road to learn the rules of trade and to explore the country. Peddlers carried trunks ﬁlled with goods; some pulled a wagon or traveled on horseback. Those with skills for entertaining played music or told stories”
An Internet search tells you that, after two hundred years, love of adventure, travel and great story telling are still prized traits in a salesperson. The peddlers honed their sales skills peddling a bewildering array of things like harecombs, needles, buttons, buttonmolds, sewing silk, beeds and scissors
What were the buyers like? Not any different from today. “Guild found” says the author “that the customers bargained to get the lowest possible price”. So, the notorious price objection too is a couple of centuries old. As is the perception of price representing value. The book has a story where the peddler hopes to sell scissors quickly at the low price of twelve cents a pair and is dismayed that customers are reluctant to buy. Most feel, at that price the scissors couldn’t be any good. So, the peddler tries an experiment. He divides the scissors – all of the same quality – into two packs, some priced at twelve cents and rest to be sold at twenty-five cents. Result? Improved sales!
No sales training today is complete without basics on body language. “Guild’s sentiment of projecting conﬁdence—of ‘putting oneself forward’ in a bold way—became common advice in how-to-sell books of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries” the author observes
The section on the origins of American salesmanship ends with an absorbing lesson from the techniques of circuit riders. Like the peddlers, circuit riders also travelled extensively. But unlike peddlers, circuit riders sold religious books and made efforts to get people to adopt a particular religious persuasion. The story is about a circuit rider, Erwin, who tries to make a follower out of a farmer who is highly resistant (Sales resistance?). Erwin is quoted as having written: “One morning I went to visit him; found him alone working in his hayﬁeld. He gave me rather a rough reception, but I paid no attention to his ravings, inquired about his farm, how much hay he cut to the acre and so on. I told him that I needed physical exercise and if he would get me a rake I would help him while I remained. Erwin worked hard until evening, and then was asked to stay for dinner. After eating—and gaining the man’s conﬁdence—Erwin then asked the man and his wife to pray with him, which they did, and so gained a follower”
Selling in the end, is not just about superior techniques. As Erwin’s story shows, it is also about attitude. Especially an attitude of waiting patiently while working actively for outcomes we want. Over two centuries, more sales has changed, the more it has remained the same. The timeless principles of excellence in selling continue to be relevant today as they were when salesmanship was born. An attitude of active patience is one such
A pdf extract of the original book by Walter A Friedman titles ‘Birth of a Salesman’ is here
The Navy Seal Art of War by Rob Roy
“In the real world, patience is a virtue. On the battlefield, it can be an actual weapons system.
Patience is not inaction. It is not laziness. Not being slow. Individuals who exhibit patience know the right time to act.
A patient warrior is in control of his emotions, actions & desires. He demonstrates the intestinal fortitude to keep going, conquering one piece of ground at a time, until the mission is a success. Even if that takes years.
Delaying action is not to be equated with wasting time or being indecisive. Rather, it is reckless impatience that risks lives, goals, relationships, missions, even the battle or war.
One must wait for the target to present itself, wait for the wind and angles to properly align, wait for the optimal moment to squeeze the trigger”
Sound advice for sales people in the fiercely competitive marketplace? You would readily agree. Just that those words are not from a sales guru. Their impact – not very different from a tracer bullet between the eyes – is a clue. No surprises though. They are meant to be that way. For, they belong to a retired US Navy Seal, Rob Roy - Chief Petty Officer of the Seal Team 6, US Navy. SEALs Team 6 are the elite commando corps that are called in for extremely strategic, complex, unpredictable, humanly impossible tasks, like Operation Neptune Spear which took down Osama Bin Laden.
Roy shares his wisdom, direct and no holds barred, in his book – The Navy SEAL Art of War. This is a must read for all Sales People – irrespective of where they are in the hierarchy.
The Power of Patience quoted above, is just one of the many insightful passages in this action packed narrative that is just unputdownable. The book is guaranteed to provoke thoughts in Sales Managers on how they can care for their people and groom them for bigger roles. And the book has a whole lot of valuable lessons that that sales professionals can pick up in negotiation and self-development.
This is easily one of the best books on learnings from the battlefield written in the last decade. Don’t miss it.
Active Patience Sells
It’s a tape that runs in every sales professional’s head. “ABC – Always be closing!” The voice you hear could be first boss’s. Or your induction trainer’s. The scenario however is familiar: You have worked on a large deal ahead of year end and everything went fine. You are about to close. That’s when the procurement team tells you there a couple of more clearances to get and will revert once they come through. Which was a four days ago. Tension mounts. It is no help that your Territory head calls you every morning to check on the status. Your sales amygdala kicks in and there is this tape running again on bass boost. You have to physically restrain yourself from calling the procurement contacts. Is there a Zen alternative, you wonder.
Active patience is the ability to wait confidently for the outcome while doing everything possible to speed it up. In sales relationship, it is about conscious and continuous efforts to add value to the Customer even as we wait for results to show up. In psychology terms, whatever is within our locus of control, we should move in on quick. And on things beyond it, the best attitude is one of active patience.
Borrowing a metaphor made famous by self-help author Stephen Covey, active patience helps in progressively wresting control over things that are outside our active circle of influence
Top sales professionals do not badger their Customers constantly to get a sale. They are unobtrusive while tenaciously using active patience to help buyers’ reach closure at their pace and comfort. And that makes for a memorable Customer experience leaving buyers wanting to come back for more
Patience - The sure way to victory
Once Shivaji Maharaj, a great king from India, lost his way while going from one fort to another. He looked around from a hilltop but could not see any village nearby. The night was advancing fast. As he started coming down the hill, he saw a dim light twinkling in the distance. Going in that direction, he soon reached a hut.
Inside the hut was an old woman who welcomed him, thinking that he was a soldier from Shivaji’s army. Seeing that he was tired and hungry, she gave him warm water to wash his hands and face and also spread a mat for him to relax upon. After he had sufficient rest, she brought a plateful of hot rice and curry and placed it before him.
Shivaji was so hungry that he quickly put his hand into the rice and curry to lift a big morsel to his mouth. The hot food burnt his fingers and immediately, he grabbed his hand, spilling some food on the floor.
The old woman saw what had happened and remarked, “Oh, you seem to be as impatient and hasty as your master, Shivaji, that’s why you burnt your fingers and lost some food, too.”
Shivaji was both amused and surprised by these words. “Why do you think my master Shivaji is impatient and hasty?” he asked The old lady innocently began to explain. “Look here, my dear son. Don’t you see, Shivaji is ignoring the smaller forts of his enemy and trying to capture only the big forts? Just as your impatience to eat burned your fingers and caused spillage of food on the floor, Shivaji’s impatience to defeat the enemy is causing him both worry and loss of a number of men from his brave army. You should have first eaten the cooler food at the edge of the plate and then the food in the center. So, too, Shivaji should start taking the small forts first and strengthen his position. That will help him to conquer the bigger forts quickly and without much loss of his soldiers.”
Shivaji was quick to grasp the wisdom in the old woman’s words. He realised that one should avoid making haste in any undertaking.
My Purple Hibiscus
- Loose Black Earth
- A fine texture
- Just the way it should be
- The Moisture is retained
- The Roots hug the compost
- A tiny shoot bursts forth
- Shaded by the Oleander bush
- It basks in the delicate sun rays
- I toss and turn the soil
- Spray water at scheduled intervals
- A velvety leaf finally emerges
- My day is made
- Then the deadly worm strikes
- And the shoot wilts
- All over I start
- It’s been 4 months now
- I can just about see the green...
- While I wait for the Miracle of the Purple Hibiscus
- I read and learn and prepare the organic feed
- The shoot laps it up and rewards me with tender leaves
- So tiny…. And so much to grow
- I wait, I do, I pray…. My purple Hibiscus
- The two most powerful warriors are patience and time - Leo Tolstoy
- Patience, persistence and perspiration make an unbeatable combination for success - Napoleon Hill
- Patience is not simply the ability to wait - it's how we behave while we're waiting - Joyce Meyer
- Genius is eternal patience - Michelangelo
- Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience - Ralph Waldo Emerson
- Have patience. All things are difficult before they become easy - Saadi
- The key to everything is patience. You get the chicken by hatching the egg, not by smashing it - Arnold H. Glasow
- When things begin accelerating wildly out of control, sometimes patience is the only answer. Press pause. - Douglas Rushkoff
Mercuri Mail is a thoughtful compilation of meaningful articles drawn from Mercuri India archives, and from timeless management literature. Edited by Jaishankar Balasubramaniam & Sridhar Srinivasan of Mercuri Goldmann (India) Pvt. Ltd. This sales magazine is published for private circulation only.