Of Forums, Experts, Tin Men, Gedi Knights and The Halcyon Days of Yesteryear.
November 23 2001 at 1:57 AM
If you’ve been following the forum scene recently, you will have noticed an undertone of discontent among some regulars, old masters, gurus and the “amateurs” or students of business, marketing and sales.
Some also feel that the “experts”, the ones who have “paid their dues” and cut their teeth in real world and online disciplines with years of experience under their belt are posting less frequently on discussion boards. Contributing less…. No longer “crusaders”, imparting their wisdom, because of the naïve comments and misinformed responses by the increasing numbers of less experienced posters.
Don Alm is one who comes to mind of recent.
I’ve thought about this deeply and would like to offer my view as to what the underlying problem is here….
There is a “marketing and sales generation gap” that exists in forums today….
This is to be expected. The forums see people from all walks of life, from 16 to 80 years of age and from different backgrounds.
There is a whole “new generation” of business people out there who have never been “exposed” to the ways in which products and services have been sold 20 or 30 years ago.
Never “Exposed” to the sales and marketing “methodology ” common to yesteryear.
Of teachings that were born and heavily documented around the 1940’s.
Marketing and sales tactics that were refined, taught and utilized through the 1970s, 1980s….
The tactics that gave America’s labor force and other western countries, work and prosperity in manufacturing industries. Marketing and sales methods that built great nations, yet at the same time gave anyone who was proud to say “I’m a salesman… That’s my profession”… A bad reputation.
So today’s generation who “sell” for a living disguise that word “salesman”.
Instead you’ll see “consultant”, “Account Manager”, “Technical Advisor” … Anything but the word “salesman” on their business card.
A generation has passed. Yet there are what I like to call a few “Gedi Knights” that walk among the great-accumulated readership population of Internet marketing forums.
Guys like Don Alm, Tony Blake, Jim Straw, Gary Halbert, Ted Nicholas, Mike Enlow and others over the age of 40, who have spent most of their adult life in sales and marketing will understand where I’m coming from here.
I also was apart of that era, the halcyon days, the golden days of selling….
And if you can relate to the following verses below… Then you too will understand why there is a “marketing and sales generation gap” in the forums today that causes the explosions of disagreement and “knocking of ideas” put forth by the those who bear the weathered scares of a lifetime of sales experience upon their brow.
“Soldiers of sales”, front line troops who practiced specialized sales techniques and were trained to combat and overcome any sales resistance. Those that come to be known as... the “Gedi Knights” of marketing and sales…. Proud to accept “straight commission” instead of an hourly wage for their services…. Proud to be a professional salesperson!
Reminisce if you will…. “Gedi Knights of sales”….
When our heroes, the “gurus” we admired were guys like “J. Douglas Edwards”
(in my opinion, the greatest sales trainer that ever existed), “Cavett Robert”, and “Zig Ziglar”…. Masters that many readers of this forum maybe too young to remember.
Guys that came before the likes of “Tom Hopkins” and “Joe Girard”.
Taking pride in front row seats at their seminars when they came to town. When we lined up in the backroom to buy their books at intermission.
Then watched reruns of J. Douglas Edwards on Super 8 and a movie projector at sales meetings.
When we sat in the movie theatre in 87, and saw “Tin Men” and could relate to the sales strategies portrayed by Danny De Vito and Richard Dreyfuss on the silver screen.
We chuckled silently to ourselves because we understood what was “really happening” while those never “exposed” to the world of professional salesmanship just laughed at the “comedy” of the plot.
The days when Britannica was sold for $6000 as a set of leather bound encyclopedias... Real books, by “specialty salesman” who got their leads from standing all day in a booth at the local shopping mall… Who feed their families on hard earned commission, before the young generation of today only knew Britannica was $99 on a set of CD-ROMs before it became freely available on a website… Those were the days!
When the art of sales, was learnt in the real world, not from a book, but from fields such as Aluminium siding, home insulation, kitchen renovations, life insurance, pots and pans and even steak knives… And other high ticket specialty items.
When you would wear out a pair of shoes pounding the pave walk getting your own leads, door knocking, cold canvassing or telemarketing with a mirror mounted on the wall directly in front of you, so you would remember to smile and project that image down the phone line.
When the sales team got together down at the pub on a Friday evening after the weekly sales meeting, got drunk, and told our sales stories with bravado of the week gone by…. Halcyon days…. When selling was fun.
When having a flash car with leather trim was a must have and showed our success in the profession amongst our peers.
When “sales presenters” were made by hand with Letraset (rub down lettering), pictures of product and benefits glued and pasted in a 3 ring binder…. Before personal computer desktop publishing made it all too easy.
When sporting a beard was considered a negative in sales and clean shaven was the only way to sell face to face.
When your proudest moments in business was walking into the office the next day with 3 large orders with deposit checks pinned on top, placing them like three aces on the sales manager’s desk and waiting to see if the others had a better hand.
When winning “Salesman of the year” meant something special.
When sales presentations were … learned by heart, rehearsed and practiced until “word perfect” and knowing at least 20 closes and knowing when to close, telling third party stories, pre-talk, handling objections, learning to sell yourself first, and “buttoning up” after getting the sale was all part of the craft.
Today there is this “marketing and sales generation gap” because there are very few “real apprenticeships” in sales where one can get a “hands on” education in sales techniques taught by the old masters like J. Douglas Edwards and others.
Techniques and ideas that work just as effectively today as they did 20 years ago... Because people have not changed,
the psychology of sales is the same.
So before you knock the ideas of others on marketing forums, of veterans and those who obviously have the experience…. Think carefully before you knock those old “Gedi Knights” who have “paid their dues” in the real world.
Open your minds to new ideas... Many people fail because they are stuck in a pool of their own poor ideas and will not listen to others.
Great point Ricky, but is it falling on deaf ears?
November 24 2001, 3:58 PM
Only those whose "next bag of groceries" depended on getting off your butt and making another sale can appreciate your post.
When every dime you earn depends on your ability to create your own leads, make your own sales, and deliver a quality product day in and day out, while you are gathering leads for the next day, can you ever appreciate the art of selling, and the art of selling in print. Which is actually what we do here on the internet. We sell in print.
Selling in print is extremely difficult because you can't read the prospects face and adjust your sales pitch like you can in person. It truly is an art, that many just don't understand.
I appreciated your post, I've read most of the people you mentioned. What makes most of these people so great?
Many of them sold door to door. I believe Gary Halbert sold vacuum cleaners in Canton, Ohio.
I remember reading one of his qualifying strategies. He would find a lead, make an appointment, then not show up on purpose. The next day he would call and appologize, and if the prospect was still willing to see him, he considered them a viable prospect.
He spent little time talking to uninterested people, and made a lot more sales as a result.