Think about it: Who do you buy from?

“If you speak and act with a pure mind, happiness will follow you,
as a shadow clings to a form.”


I’ll start this Sales section of the book just as I started the Consulting section: In my opinion, the most important part of sales is trust. If you’re trying to sell me something, especially a service, the first question in my mind is, “Do I trust this person?”

Before reading any further, think about the people you’ve bought a service from before:

  • Automobile repair service
  • Real estate broker
  • An accountant or lawyer
  • A person who mowed your lawn or shoveled your snow

Whenever you bought a service like this before, who did you buy from? Why did you buy from them? Did you like them before the sale? What about after the service?

Important qualities

I’ve found that the people I’ve enjoyed buying products and services from had these qualities:

  • Honesty
  • Enthusiasm
  • Happy and polite
  • Problem solver
  • They seemed interested in my problem
  • They didn’t over-promise
  • They could demonstrate past successes, and/or were recommended by a friend

All of these qualities lead to a feeling of “trust.” I trust people with these traits.

Trust is an important feeling to me. When my wife and I had a house built, we intentionally didn’t work with architects and builders we didn’t trust. Some didn’t seem honest, making almost sensational promises. Others seemed to have no enthusiasm at all. Another seemed distracted, and didn’t respond well to questions or changes we proposed.

When I hired lawyers and accountants as a small business owner, there were several people I didn’t hire because I didn’t trust them for similar reasons. I don’t know a thing about cars, but I do the same thing with auto repair shops; if I don’t trust the people I interact with, I don’t do business with them.

Brains aren’t the most important factor

Notice a very important thing I didn’t say here:

I didn’t say that you have to be the smartest person in the world.

Of course it helps to be smart, but that’s not how people judge you when you first meet them. (The first things they’ll judge you on is your appearance and how you greet them.) Odds are, they’re coming to you for a service they don’t understand very well, so it’s going to be hard for them to tell if you’re smarter than a competitor.

For instance, I can’t necessarily tell if one accountant is really better than another, but I can tell from his answers if he’s paying attention to my questions, and has experience with situations like mine.

An excellent tip from Ben Franklin

If you want to be a great salesperson or sales assistant, I strongly encourage you to cultivate the attributes mentioned in this chapter. One way to do this is to follow an approach recommended hundreds of years ago by Ben Franklin, one of the founding fathers of the United States:

Focus solely on one attribute you want to develop for one week at a time. The next week, focus solely on another attribute.

For instance, in Week 1, you should focus on honesty. Be honest in all your interactions, and if you fail to be honest in some situation, ask yourself why you weren’t honest, and make a note of it. Don’t worry about the other attributes, just spend 100% of your time focusing on being honest in all situations.

In Week 2, focus on enthusiasm. During this week, don’t let anyone you meet be more enthusiastic than you are. Wake up every morning like you were shot out of a cannon, and keep going like that all day.

Continue this practice for each personality trait you want to cultivate. If you don’t like my attributes, look up Mr. Franklin’s suggestions and use them. He came up with thirteen attributes that were important to him, and he did just what I said, focusing on one attribute for a full week, then moving on to another. By having thirteen attributes, he was able to cycle through the attributes four times each year (fifty-two weeks), and that worked well for him.

I highly recommend this approach. It’s a tremendous way to focus your mind, and build your character.

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