WELCOME TO THE DRAYTON BIRD BLOG - Commonsense about marketing, business and life

Leave now if easily shocked or politically correct. Otherwise, please leave your comments. Statements such as "brilliant", "hugely perceptive", "what a splendid man" and "can I buy you dinner at the restaurant of your choice" are all greeted with glee.

If you like, I'll e-mail you each new dollop of drivel when I publish it. Just click here to subscribe. If you want to succeed faster, get my 101 helpful marketing ideas, one every 3 days. People love them - maybe because they're free. Go to www.draytonbirdcommonsense.com and register. You also a get a free copy of the best marketing book ever written

Sunday, 11 July 2010

"Times change. People don't" said the sage Mr. Caples. But how many realise it?

After a board meeting in Frankfurt, Lord knows how many years ago, David Ogilvy told me over dinner that "Rosser Reeves and I were talking one day, and we agreed that everything we knew we had learned from John Caples."

Rosser Reeves, who was Ogilvy's brother-in-law, coined the initials USP that everyone now uses with such gay, and often inaccurate abandon.

John Caples, besides being a very good copywriter - They laughed when I sat down at the piano is one of the most copied lines ever - popularised systematic testing, though not enough to penetrate the thick skulls of most corporate drones.

If you haven't read one of his books, well, you should. Andi Emerson named the Caples Awards after him - a bit of a joke, as they ignore the one thing Caples was committed to: results. And believe it or not, Andi was briefly a partner of mine. Small world!

When a Wall Street Journal interviewer asked Caples if the principles he had discovered still applied, he replied: "Times change. People don't."

If people coming into this business - especially the online side - just studied the past they would save themselves a lot of mistakes - and money on moonshine schemes that promise to make you rich in the twinkling of an eye.

So, here's something instructive a friend just sent me, which is as true now as it was over a 100 years ago.

In the early 1900s, A. Joseph Newman, General Sales Manager, Bayuk Cigars, Inc., Philadelphia, had an original method of helping his company’s distributors.

Under a pen name, Frank Trufax (true facts) he wrote a series of letters to imaginary salesmen in which he discussed very real problems. Here’s one example

To My Salesmen:

I was looking over the orders the other day and I saw one from a dealer whom we had not been selling for at least a year.

I was tickled pink to see him back on our books once again.

Our little selling-fool, Billy Keepatem, put it over—yes, he did. Hats off to Keepatem, boys!

“Well, Bill, how did you do it?” said I to Bill at first opportunity.

“Nothing wonderful about it, Mr. Trufax,” replied Bill. “That dealer sells a lot of stuff and I thought if he was worth going after, he was worth keeping after. I’ve been calling on him regularly once a week for nine months and – well, I landed him. That’s all there is to it.”

Did you get that one pithy phrase Bill pulled: “If he was worth going after, he was worth keeping after?”

Manoman, there’s the salient secret of selling success! If a dealer is worth going after to sell, he is worth keeping after until he is sold.

And that brings up two interesting queries. Here they are: How many calls do salesmen make before they quit calling? How often does a salesman call before the dealer buys?

Now, get me right, boys. I didn’t personally conduct the investigation to get the answers to these two questions and I don’t want to be facetious when I say I didn’t get up the dictionary either; but there’s where I went to find out if I could get away with that “wicked” word “facetious.”

It is just as important to know where to find knowledge as it is to have knowledge. Well, anyway, the investigation was carefully made and here’s the findings:

48.2% of salesmen made 1 call and quit.

24.4% made 2 calls and quit

14.7% made 3 calls and quit

12.7% made 4 or more calls

Go over those figures once again, boys, they’re intensely interesting.

Then clear your mind to get full shock of this body-blow of an answer to the second question:

Sixty per cent of the sales made were on or after the fifth call!

This investigation, of course, proves very little conclusively but it does emphasize this one thing:

Eighty-eight per cent of the salesmen automatically eliminated themselves from consideration of sixty per cent of the business because they quit before the dealer had been brought up to the buying point.

Boys, I don’t want you to waste time watering dead plants but I do want you to keep digging around the live ones.

You can never tell when the “No, not today” will change into “Yes, send ‘em along.”

It may be on the fifth call; it may be on the fiftieth call; but as Billy Keepatem says:

“If a dealer is worth going after, he’s worth keeping after.”

Yours, tilhesezyes,

Frank Trufax.

Just as a coincidence, one of my most determined clients made a sale worth £15,000 after the 14th follow-up. It is no coincidence that he does a lot of testing. Wise man.

And one last point: there are some wonderful colloquial expressions in that old piece. I love the bit about watering dead plants. A good writer.

(I'm still in New York today: writing seminar later this week.)

blog comments powered by Disqus