Sunday, 6 April 2008

"How I raised myself from failure to success in selling"

By Frank Bettger, with a foreword by Dale Carnegie.

I have this book sitting beside my bed. I went through a phase about 15 years ago when I was quite interested in reading about sales, how to run organizations, how to communicate better, and how to make money. It was about the same time as my NT Wright phase, if I recall correctly.

Most of those books have long since found their way to our local Vinnies or, more likely, the second hand bookshops around Carlton, Victoria.

For some reason I never tossed this one. I like the cover, which has the title in a Times New Roman type font, although I wouldn't really know. It was written in 1949 and my edition is 1988.

Having never raised myself from failure to success in selling, I don't know if this is a good book or not. But apart from the cover, what prompted me to keep it was its plain and direct style (whereas NT Wright's The New Testament and the People of God is no longer on my shelves. I don't know if it ever was, actually, or if I just scummed a copy off a friend.)

It is full of hokey stories which remind me of a different era, where despite the effects of two world wars an optimistic modernism reigned supreme. Here's one:

A dismal failure at selling life insurance, I finally concluded that I was never cut out to be a salesman, and began answering want ads for a job as a shipping clerk. I realised, however, that no matter what work I tried to do, I had to overcome a strange fear-complex that possessed me, so I joined one of Dale Carnegie's courses in public speaking. One night, Mr. Carnegie stopped me in the middle of a talk.

"Mr. Bettger," he said. "Just a moment...just a moment. Are you interested in what you are saying?"

"Yes...of course I am." I replied.

"Well then," said Mr. Carnegie, "why don't you talk with a little enthusiasm? How do you expect your audience to be interested if you don't put some life and animation into what you say?"

Dale Carnegie then gave our class a stirring talk on the power of enthusiasm. He got so excited during the talk, he threw a chair up against the wall and broke off one of its legs.

Before I went to bed that night, I sat for an hour thinking. My thoughts went back to my baseball days at Johnston and New Haven. For the first time, I realised that the very fault which had threatened to wreck my career in baseball was now threatening to wreck my career as a salesman.

I love it.


Unknown said...

That was one of the books that was compulsory reading when I did my insurance sales training.
I probably still have a copy or two over at my mums.

I have forgotten what the other one was, it was written by the founder of the company. I still remember today the words they taught us in overcoming objections to people who didn't want to buy a policy. What was worse is that they actually worked and people actually bought policies they didn't want.

In a way I wonder if the same kind of thing happens at times in our evangelism. We learn a method by rote - whether it be the two ways to live - The 4 spiritual laws or other. We learn how to overcome peoples objections and then through our selling technique we have them pray the sinners prayer and pat our selves on the back for another policy sold.

Yet how effective is this for making a deep heart felt decision for Christ, where the person truly becomes convicted of their sins and the need for Christ.
I see a danger where sometimes our evangelism could be based on the need to make another sale and not on the needs of the person.

Gordon Cheng said...

I suppose the ethical test we should be applying above all others is "Is this true?"

The Spirit, after all, is the 'Spirit of Truth'; Satan, however, is the 'Father of Lies'.

Groseys messages said...

It was said of Disreali (a former British PM), that he had two faults that caused him never to be a great orator;
people were never to sure that he was truly sincere, and he never had a dominating conviction that drove his speaches.
Though small in stature,by contrast whenever William Wilberforce spoke in Pariament, the galleries would swell, and the memebrs would hold their breath to catch upon his every word.
Sincereity and conviction were a mighty adjunct to oratorical power.
Much like the apostle Paul:
2 Corinthians 4:1 1 Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not give up. 2 Instead, we have renounced shameful secret things, not walking in deceit or distorting God’s message, but in God’s sight we commend ourselves to every person’s conscience by an open display of the truth.