4. Studying the prospect.—Some men are op posed to change; others welcome new things. The college graduate's viewpoint is different from that of the self-trained man. One prospect is young and am bitious to progress ; another is getting old and is think ing of retiring. One is wealthy and lives modestly ; another owns a large house and drives a car. One plays golf ; another is a tennis enthusiast or a baseball "fan." The nature of your individual business will dictate just what particular information you most de sire. Bear in mind that after this information is se cured it will, in nine cases out of ten, be better not to let the prospect know that you are in possession of it, but to get him to talk with you as freely as he will.
Let us take a few examples. A representative of a New York publishing house was sent to induce the president of a great university to write a book. He immediately read the last book written by the educa tor. His opening remark then, when he called, was : "It is a pleasure to meet you. I have just completed the reading of your latest book." That put the inter view upon a favorable footing immediately.
A salesman calling upon an advertising manager whose firm's initial page in the Saturday Evening Post had appeared two weeks previously, immediately proceeded to congratulate the advertising manager upon having broken into the Post, and commented upon the forcefulness of the copy used. It goes with out saying that an advertising manager is proud of his first $5,000 page.
An insurance man had learned two things about one of his prospects ; he was hostile to insurance, and he had a son and a daughter at college. By talking specifically of the financial future of that particular son and daughter, instead of generally of the necessity of providing for one's family, he was able to remove the hostility.
A high-class salesman who does business with rail road presidents makes it a point to be thoroly familiar with the railroad's latest annual report and especially with the features that show marked gains.
A man who places exclusive agencies for a hard ware specialty makes a practice of buying a key-ring in each of the three or four hardware stores in a town. While he is being waited upon, lie has an opportunity of looking around and getting a pretty definite im pression. He then goes to the store that impressed him as being the best and offers the agency.
5. Gathering human mind is so constituted that it hesitates to center itself upon a new subject unless that subject is manifestly one of personal interest. Previous knowledge of a prospect
enables the salesman to inject this element of personal interest. His information is garnered from many sources. Other salesmen can give him a great deal. In small towns, the hotel clerks are able to tell him much. Men to whom he has sold can inform him about the men he is going to see. This gathering of information from their customers is a favorite method with specialty men, some of whom make it a rule to question every man they call upon concerning some other man or business in town. The man who buys staples generally knows the men who carry the same line in adjoining towns and, as they are not com petitors, will give unbiased information concerning them. Newspapers frequently contain valuable ref erences to the business men of a community. The telephone directories and general directories are un failing sources of information. The salesman should consider this gathering of information as an important part of his work. He should be continually on the lookout for anything that will enable him to get a favorable opening, that will be a buffer against the shock of the contact of two minds, or that will establish a point of contact with his prospect.
6. Using a card-index.—What has been said ap plies primarily to the first interview. Unless the salesman sees his customers regularly and at short intervals, however, they will seem like new prospects every time he calls upon them. A salesman who calls upon his customer only once in three or four months and depends upon his memory for the essential facts concerning him and his business, is likely to forget im portant details. For that reason, a salesman often keeps a simple card-record of each customer. Upon each card he keeps a note of the man's financial stand ing, the business that has been done with him and items of personal information gained during the various interviews. He goes over these cards before each call.
7. Securing an interview.—A salesman who had sent his name in to a large buyer received the reply that the buyer did not wish to see him. "Tell your boss," he quickly instructed the office boy, "that I already knew he didn't want to see me ; it is I who wish to see him"; and the story goes that be saw him. If he did, he accomplished an important thing; for it is not until he has been able to get face to face with his prospect, that the salesman's appearance, personality, knowledge of his goods, or the best talking point he may have at his tongue's end, can do any good.