THE MIND OF THE SALESMAN
In the Psychology of Salesmanship there are two important elements, viz: (1) The Mind of the Salesman; and (2) the Mind of the Buyer. The proposition, or the goods to be sold, constitute the connecting link between the two Minds, or the common point upon which the two Minds must unite, blend, and come to agreement. The Sale itself is the result of the fusion and agreement of the two Minds—the product of the action and reaction between them. Let us now proceed to a consideration of the two important elements, the Two Minds involved in the process of Salesmanship.
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Beginning our consideration of the Mind of the Salesman, let us realize that upon his mind depends his character and personality. His character is composed of his individual mental qualities or attributes. His personality is his customary outward expression of his character. Both character and personality may be altered, changed and improved. And there is in each person a central something which he calls “I,” which is able to order and manifest these changes in his character and personality. While it may be argued plausibly that a man is merely a composite of his characteristics and nothing more, nevertheless there is always in each the consciousness that in his real “I” there is a something which is above and behind characteristics, and which may regulate the latter. Without attempting to lead the reader into the maze of metaphysics, or the pitfalls of philosophy, we wish to impress upon him the fact that his mental being has for its innermost centre of consciousness this mysterious “I,” the nature of which no one has ever been able to determine, but which when fully realized imparts to one a strength and force undreamed of before.
And it is well worth while for everyone seeking self-development and self-improvement to awaken to a clear realization of this “I” within him, to which every faculty, every quality, every characteristic is an instrument of expression and manifestation. The real “you” is not the characteristics or features of personality, which change from time to time, but a permanent, changeless, centre and background of the changes of personality—a something that endures through all changes, and which you simply know as “I.” In the volume of this series, entitled “The New Psychology,” in the chapter entitled “The Ego, or Self” we have spoken of this in detail. Further mention would be out of place in the present volume, but we may be pardoned for quoting the following from the said chapter, for we feel that a realization of this “I” is most important to each person who wishes to master his own mind, and to create his own personality. Here follows the quotation:
“The consciousness of the ‘I’ is above personality—it is something inseparable from individuality. * * * The consciousness of the ‘I’ is an actual experience, just as much as is the consciousness of the page before you. * * * The whole subject of The New Psychology is bound up with this recognition of the ‘I’—it revolves around this ‘I’ as a wheel around its centre. We regard the mental faculties, powers, organs, qualities, and modes of expression, as merely instruments, tools, or channels of expression of this wonderful Something—the Self, the pure Ego—the ‘I.’ And this is the message of The New Psychology—that You, the ‘I,’ have at your command a wonderful array of mental instruments, tools, machinery, which if properly used will create for you any kind of personality you may desire. You are the Master Workman who may make of yourself what you will. But before you can appreciate this truth—before you can make it your own—before you can apply it—you must enter into a recognition and realization of this wonderful ‘I’ that you are, to which body and senses, yea, even the mind itself, are but channels of expression. You are something more than body, or senses, or mind—you are that wonderful Something, master of all these things, but of which you can say but one thing: ‘I AM.'”
But remember, always, that this realization of the Ego does not mean egotism, or self-conceit, or comparison of your character orpersonality with that of others. It is Egoism not Egotism—and Egoism means simply the realization of this “Master-Consciousness” to which all other mental faculties are subordinate. If you want some other name for it, you may consider this “I” as the “Will of the will,” for it is the very essence of will-power—it is, so to speak, the Will conscious of itself. By means of the realization, you will find it far easier to cultivate the mental qualities in which you are deficient, and to restrain undesirable characteristics. The spirit of the idea may be gained by a careful understanding of the following from the pen of Charles F. Lummis: “I’m all right. I am bigger than anything that can happen to me. All these things are outside my door, and I’ve got the key!”
The mental qualities most requisite to the Salesman may be stated as follows:
1. Self Respect. It is important to the Salesman that he cultivate the faculty of Self Respect. By this we do not mean egotism, conceit, superciliousness, imperiousness, hauteur, snobbishness, etc., all of which are detrimental qualities. Self Respect, on the contrary imparts the sense of true manhood or womanhood, self-reliance, dignity, courage and independence. It is the spirit of Black Hawk, the Indian chieftain, who, lifting his head said to Jackson: “I am a Man!” It is entirely opposed to the crawling, cringing “worm of the dust,” mental attitude of Uriah Heep, who was continually asserting how humble—how very humble—he was. Learn to look the world in the eyes without flinching. Throw off the fear of the crowd, and the impression that you are unworthy. Learn to believe in yourself, and to respect yourself. Let your motto be “I Can; I Will; I Dare; I Do!”
Self Respect is a sure antidote for the feeling of fear, shrinking, sense of inferiority, and other negative feelings which sometimes oppress the Salesman when he is about to enter into the presence of some “big man.” Remember that the man’s personality is merely a mask, and that behind it is merely an “I” like your own—no more, no less. Remember that behind the “John Smith” part of you there exists the same kind of “I” that exists behind the “High Mucky-muck” part of him. Remember that you are Man approaching Man—not a worm approaching a god. Remember that just as Kipling says: “The Colonel’s lady and Judy O’Grady are sisters under their skin,” so are you and the big man twin “I’s” beneath the covering of personality, position, and outward appearance. By cultivating the realization of the “I,” of which we have told you, you will acquire a new sense of Self Respect which will render you immune from the feeling of bashfulness, inferiority and fear in the presence of others. Unless a man respects himself, he cannot expect others to respect him. He should build up his true individuality and respect it, being careful, always, not to get “side-tracked” by egotism, vanity and similar follies of personality. It is not your personality which is entitled to respect, but your individuality, which is something far different. The personality belongs to the outer man, the individuality to the inner.
One’s physical carriage and attitude tends to react upon his own mental attitude as well as also impressing those in whose presence he is. There is always an action and reaction between mind and body. Just as mental states take form in physical actions, so do physical actions react upon the mind and influence mental states. Frown continually and you will feel cross; smile and you will feel cheerful. Carry yourself like a man, and you will feel like a man. Carl H. Pierce says regarding the proper carriage of a salesman: “Remember that you are asking no favors; that you have nothing to apologize for, and that you have every reason in the world to hold your head up high. And it is wonderful what this holding of the head will do in the way of increasing sales. We have seen salesmen get entrance to the offices of Broadway buyers simply through the holding of the head straight up from the shoulders. The rule to follow is: Have your ear lobes directly over your shoulders, so that a plumb line hung from the ears describes the line of your body. Be sure not to carry the head either to the right or left but vertical. Many men make the mistake, especially when waiting for a prospect to finish some important piece of business, of leaning the head either to the right or left. This indicates weakness. A study of men discloses the fact that the strong men never tilt the head. Their heads sit perfectly straight on strong necks. Their shoulders, held easily yet firmly in correct position, are inspiring in their strength indicating poise. Every line of the body, in other words, denotes the thought of the bearer.”
So cultivate not only the inner sense of Self Respect, but also the outward indications of that mental state. Thus do you secure the benefit of the action and reaction between body and mind.
II. Poise. The salesman should cultivate Poise, which manifests in balance, tranquility and ease. Poise is that mental quality which maintains a natural balance between the various faculties, feelings, emotions and tendencies. It is the assertion of the “I” as the Master and controller of the mental states, feelings, and action. Poise enables one to correctly balance himself, mentally, instead of allowing his feelings or emotions to run away with him. Poise enables one to remain the Master of Himself, instead of “slopping over” on the one hand, or of “losing his nerve” on the other. Poise enables one to “keep himself well in hand.” The man who has Poise indeed has Power, for he is never thrown off his balance, and consequently always remains master of the situation. Did you ever hear of, or see, the Gyroscope? Well, it is a peculiar little mechanical contrivance consisting of a whirling wheel within a frame work, the peculiarity consisting of the arrangement and action of the wheel which by its motion always maintains its balance and equilibrium. No matter how the little apparatus is turned, it always maintains its equilibrium. It is likely to play an important part in aerial navigation and mono-rail systems of transportation, in the future.
Well, here is the point—be a Mental Gyroscope. Cultivate the mental quality which acts automatically in the direction of keeping your balance and centre of mental gravity. This does not mean that you should be a prig, or a solemn-faced smug bore, with an assumption of supernatural dignity. On the contrary, always be natural in manner and action. The point is to always maintain your balance, and mental control, instead of allowing your feelings or emotions to run away with you. Poise means Mastery—lack of it means Slavery. As Edward Carpenter says: “How rare indeed to meet a man! How common rather to discover a creature hounded on by tyrant thoughts (or cares, or desires), cowering, wincing under the lash—or perchance priding himself to run merrily in obedience to a driver that rattles the reins and persuades himself that he is free.” Poise is the Mental Gyroscope—keep it in good working order.
III. Cheerfulness. The “bright, cheerful and happy” mental attitude, and the outward manifestation of the same, is a magnet of success to the salesman. The “grouch” is the negative pole of personality, and does more to repel people than almost any other quality. So much in demand is the cheerful demeanor and mental state, that people often give undue preference to those possessing it, and pass over a “grouchy” individual of merit in favor of the man of less merit but who possesses the “sunshine” in his personality. The “man with the southern exposure” is in demand. There is enough in the world to depress people without having gloom thrust upon them by persons calling to sell goods. Well has the poet said:
“Laugh, and the world laughs with you;
Weep, and you weep alone.
For this sad old earth is in need of mirth;
It has troubles enough of its own.”
The world prefers “Happy Jim” to “Gloomy Gus,” and will bestow its favors upon the first while turning a cold shoulder to the second. The Human Wet Blanket is not a welcome guest, while the individual who manages to “let a little sunshine in” upon all occasions is always welcome. The optimistic and cheerful spirit creates for itself an atmosphere which, perhaps unconsciously, diffuses itself in all places visited by the individual. Cheerfulness is contagious, and is a most valuable asset. We have known individuals whose sunny exteriors caused a relief in the tension on the part of those whom they visited. We have heard it said of such people: “I am always glad to see that fellow—he brightens me up.” This does not mean that one should endeavor to become a professional wit, a clown, or a comedian—that is not the point. The idea underlying this mental state and attribute of personality is Cheerfulness, and a disposition to look on the bright side of things, and to manifest that mental state as the sun does its rays. Learn to radiate Cheerfulness. It is not so much a matter of saying things, as it is a matter of thinking them. A man’s inner thoughts are reflected in his outward personality.
So cultivate the inner Cheerfulness before you can hope to manifest its outer characteristics. There is nothing so pitiful, or which falls so flat, as a counterfeit Cheerfulness—it is worse than the minstrel jokes of the last decade. To be cheerful one does not have to be a “funny man.” The atmosphere of true Cheerfulness can proceed only from within. The higher-class Japanese instruct their children to maintain a cheerful demeanor and a smiling face no matter what happens, even though the heart is breaking. They consider this the obligation of their caste, and regard it as most unworthy of the person, as well as insulting to others, to manifest any other demeanor or expression. Their theory, which forms a part of their wonderful code called “Bushido,” is that it is an impertinence to obtrude one’s grief, sorrow, misfortunes, or “grouch,” upon others. They reserve for their own inner circle their sorrows and pains, and always present a cheerful and bright appearance to others. The Salesman would do well to remember the “Bushido,”—he needs it in his business. Avoid the “grouch” mental state as you would a pestilence. Don’t be a “knocker”—for “knocks,” like chickens, come home to roost, bringing their chicks with them.
IV. Politeness. Courtesy is a valuable asset to a Salesman. Not only this, but it is a trait characteristic of gentlemen in all walks of life, and is a duty toward oneself as well as toward others. By politeness and courtesy we do not mean the formal, artificial outward acts and remarks which are but the counterfeit of the real thing, but, instead, that respectful demeanor toward others which is the mark of innate refinement and good-breeding. Courtesy and politeness do not necessarily consist of formal rules of etiquette, but of an inner sympathy and understanding of others which manifests in a courteous demeanor toward them. Everyone likes to be treated with appreciation and understanding and is willing to repay the same in like form. One does not need to be a raw “jollier” in order to be polite. Politeness—true politeness—comes from within, and it is almost impossible to imitate it successfully. Its spirit may be expressed by the idea of trying to see the good in everyone and then acting toward the person as if his good were in plain evidence. Give to those with whom you come in contact the manner, attention and respect to which they would be entitled if they were actually manifesting the highest good within them.
One of the best retail salesmen we ever knew attributed his success to his ability to “get on the customer’s side of the counter,” that is, to try to see the matter from the customer’s viewpoint. This led to a sympathetic understanding which was most valuable. If the Salesman can manage to put himself in the place of the customer, he may see things with a new light, and thus gain an understanding of the customer which will enable him, the Salesman, to manifest a true politeness toward his customers. But politeness and courtesy does not mean a groveling, cringing attitude of mind or demeanor. True politeness and courtesy must have as its background and support, Self Respect.
Allied to politeness is the quality called Tact, which is defined as the “peculiar skill or adroitness in doing or saying exactly that which is required by, or is suited to, the circumstances; nice perception or discernment.” A little consideration will show that Tact must depend upon an understanding of the viewpoint and mental attitude of the other person, so that if one has the key to the one he may open the door of the other. An understanding of the other person’s position, and an application of the true spirit of politeness, will go a long way toward establishing the quality of tactfulness. Tact is a queer combination of Worldly Wisdom and the Golden Rule—a mixture of the ability to seek into the other person’s mind, and the ability to speak unto others as you would that others speak unto you, under the same circumstances. The trait called Adaptability, or the faculty of adjusting oneself to conditions, and to the personality of others, also belongs to this category. Adaptability depends upon the ability to see the other person’s position. As a writer says: “Those individuals who are out of harmony with their surroundings disappear to make room for those who are in harmony with them.” When the keynote of the understanding of the minds of others is found, the whole subject of true politeness, tact and adaptability is understood and may be applied in practice.
V. Human Nature. Closely allied to the subject of the preceding paragraphs, is that of Human Nature. A knowledge of Human Nature is very important to the Salesman. In order to understand the workings of the minds of others, one must not only understand the general psychological principles involved, but also the special manifestations of those principles. Nature tends to form classes and species, and the majority of people may be grouped into special classes depending upon their temperaments. An intelligent study of The New Psychology and the general subject of Human Nature in works on Physiognomy, etc., will do much to start one well upon the road to an understanding of Human Nature. But, after all, the best knowledge comes only when the general principles are tested and applied under observation in general experience.
In this particular work we have much to say upon certain features of Human Nature—in fact, as we have said, Human Nature is but Psychology. The following advice, from the pen of Prof. Fowler, the well known authority on Phrenology, is recommended to all Salesmen desirous of acquiring the faculty of understanding Human Nature: “Scan closely all the actions of men, with a view to ascertain their motives and mainsprings of action; look with a sharp eye at man, woman, child, all you meet, as if you would read them through; note particularly the expression of the eye, as if you would imbibe what it signifies; say to yourself: What faculty prompted this expression or that action; drink in the general looks, attitude, natural language, and manifestation of the man, and yield yourself to the impressions naturally made on you—that is, study human nature both as a philosophy and as a sentiment, or as if being impressed thereby.”
A forthcoming volume of this series, to be entitled “Human Nature,” will go into this subject in detail.