When I started my first “proper job” selling advertising space in computer magazines in London in 1986. My boss gave us a single sheet of paper to stick on our desk. She said that they were the most important rules of sales and everything useful that we needed to know as sales people was incorporated in one way or another on that sheet of paper. I was young and impressionable so I sello-taped the rules to my desk and tried to glance at them at least once a day. The rules came from Heinz Goldman from a book called How to Win Customers, published in 1958 which was still being referenced by our company in 1986!
For those with geeky tendencies Goldman was the guy who came up with the AIDA model of sales which was famously (infamously) written up on the blackboard in the sales office in Glengarry Glen Ross during Alec Baldwins famous ABC rant.

As I cleared the garage this weekend I found a bunch of old papers and in amongst an ancient training file (because sales trainers never throw away training files) was that same piece of paper.

So here for your benefit (and with a slightly nostalgic sigh) is a 1980’s summary of Goldman’s 1950’s sales principles.

1. What you sell is never a product as such but the idea behind the product – that is, the role played by the product in satisfying a customer’s needs. The product is a means, not an end in itself.

2. Every product, if it is to be saleable, must correspond with certain basic human needs. You can arouse and develop needs but you cannot create them.

3. Very few purchases are motivated exclusively by rational considerations.

4. Progressive selling is not the same as high pressure or aggressive selling.

5. Customers do not always buy the highest quality product but they will often buy the product that meets their perceived needs.

6. Price, by itself, is rarely the reason why a sale is made.

7. It is the sales professional’s task to create interest and desire for the product.

8. Selling takes place between two equals: winning an argument with a customer often means losing a sale even though the customer is not always right.

9. A sales meeting in which the prospect does not object to any of your points seldom ends in a sale.

10. Choose your words carefully. Use of language in a sales call / presentation can make or break the sale.

52 years later I can’t find fault with a single one of them.