Whenever a new commodity appears, we ridicule it, and oppose it, and refuse to buy it at any price. Then the salesperson trains his energies on us. We fight for a while, and finally we surrender. But we give no credit, or glory, to the salesperson. We walk up to the counter and buy the commodity, remarking to the clerk that it is just exactly what we needed for the past twenty years.
It is not true that new products are manufactured to supply the demand. There is no demand. Both the demand and the goods have to be manufactured. The public has always held fast to its old-fashioned discomforts, until the salesperson persuaded it to let go.
- There was no demand for the Railroad, and for years many people believed that thirty miles an hour would stop the circulation of the blood.
- There was no demand for the Steamboat, and when Brunei drove the first boat by steam on the Thames, he became so unpopular that the London hotels refused to give him a room.
- There was no demand for the Sewing machine, and the first machine that Howe put on exhibition was smashed to pieces by a Boston mob.
- There was no demand for the Telegraph, and Morse had to plead and beg before ten Congresses before he received any attention.
- There was no demand for the Air-brake, and Westinghouse was called a fool by every railroad expert, because he asserted that he could stop a train with wind.
- There was no demand for Gas-light, and all the candle-burners sneered at Murdoch for trying to have a lamp without a wick.
- There was no demand for the Reaper, and McCormick preached his gospel of efficient harvesting for fourteen years before he sold his first hundred machines.
No, it is not true, as learned theorists have said that every great invention springs into life because it is demanded by the nation. It springs into life and nobody wants it. It is the Ugly Duckling. Everybody prefers dollar to it, until a few salespeople take it in hand and explain it.
- When Frederick E. Sickles first exhibited his Steam steering-gear, all the sailors looked upon it with contempt. “Nobody seemed to take the slightest interest in it,” wrote Sickles.
- When Charles T. Porter first showed his High-speed engine in England, it was not taken seriously by anyone. “My engine,” says Porter “was visited by every engineer in England and by a multitude of engine-users; and yet in all that six months not a builder ever said a word about building neither it, nor a user said a word about using it. I was stupefied with astonishment and distress.”
- When Bell first showed his Telephone at the Philadelphia Centennial, it was endorsed by the greatest scientists of America and England. It was tested and proved. But the average man called it a “scientific toy” and refused to either use it or finance it. Bell preached telephony for years before the public bought it.
When the new product has been perfected and produced, the manufacturer must step back and make way for the salesperson. The salesperson can’t invent. A sales mind is not in-growing but out-growing. They aren’t manufacturers. Whenever they have tried it, the costs go skyward. But they know how to interest and convince the public.
The truth is that we, salespeople, have done more for progress and civilization than anyone imagines.
We have done more than all the colleges to develop the peasantry of Europe into enterprising American citizens. We have transformed the “Man with the Hoe” into the person with the computer. We have given to general public the radiator for the fireplace, the automobile for the push-cart, the computer and voice recognition for the quill pen. We have put more comforts into everyone’s homes than the king used to have in his palace.
The main thing in selling is to make people want to buy. A selling atmosphere must be created, and if you fail to do that – you will not sell. Simple as that. The professional salesperson makes the customers realize they want what is being offered. Don’t sell – make people want to buy.