In life, there are two kinds of theories and two ways to accept them. One kind of theory is supported by evidence and can be accepted through observation. The other kind is not supported by evidence and must be accepted on faith. The traditional theory of selling (which I have called ‘oldsell’) is based on a long-held fundamental belief about selling/marketing that is unsupported by evidence. It can be summed up in one simple sentence: The salesperson closes the sale.
There is no evidence to support this theory of "The salesperson closes the sale.", but it is accepted on faith and taught to young salespeople in Australia, the US and many other countries around the world.
For 30 years I have been spreading what I call the ‘newsell’ option. Newsell is an alternative theory of selling/marketing that can be measured so it can be accepted by observation. Newsell works on the following premise: The customer closes the sale.
In newsell there are three main ‘attitudes’:
I am an author and a motivational speaker. I am also a scientist. The two main features associated with this kind of job are teaching and travel. For the past 50 years, the three subjects that I’ve been most interested in are thinking, selling and leadership. I was introduced to them when I was eight. I started teaching them in Melbourne when I was 16. Since then, these three fascinating human faculties are what I’ve been most often invited to speak about around the world, and now I’m 59.
As you would expect, my niche market has consisted of aspirational thinkers – those middle-class people who desire a better life and who want better things, especially those who are able to do something about it. I’ve taught parents, educators, scientists, employees, entrepreneurs, CEOs, preachers, politicians, artists and elite sportspeople. The reason aspirational thinkers require motivation is because they know they can do better, they want to do better and so they seek out teachers who might be able to show them a better way.
This quest began one summer when I was 16 and saw an ad in the paper for a part-time selling job: ‘we’ll train you, no experience necessary’. The ad was for an American company who sold insurance policies to small businesses door-to-door. I lasted about four weeks. Most recruits lasted about two. This was my first exposure to the high-pressure American model of selling, a model which is based on exhorting the salesperson to close the sale.
This model didn’t work then in Australia and it doesn’t work now, but I was too young to know that. Little did I realise that one day I would formally challenge that idea and prove it to be false. However, I was bright, keen to learn and willing to work at it and so were most of the other recruits. The sales trainers and managers were dogmatic and heavy-handed; they kept urging us to close, close, close. However, no matter how often we repeated the company’s laconic script to our ‘prospects’, they just said NO.
Naturally I thought it was me, just like Willy Loman in Death of A Salesman. But I knew I was doing everything the American bosses taught me . . . meticulously. Still, the customers kept saying NO. Eventually, I became discouraged and started to avoid making calls. I’d go to a movie instead. Ultimately, I quit. At the time, I thought it was a waste of a summer. My friends all said so. And my dad teased me endlessly: ‘Do you know where I can get some insurance, Mike?’
As it turned out, it wasn’t a waste of time. My sales trainer gave me a classic American motivational book called Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. In this book, the author had studied the thoughts, behaviour and philosophies of a significant selection of successful American business leaders and had interviewed a number of millionaires (a million dollars was a lot in those days). You can still find the book in the self-help section of most bookstores. The main idea that came out of it was this: "What the mind can conceive and believe it can achieve." In 1963, this was a very exotic idea for a boy like me – the explicit connection between thinking and accomplishment. I remember wondering if this could be literally true. Although uncertain, I decided to invest in the concept; the implications for my whole life and future would surely be enormous if it worked.
Abbreviating the message into ‘CBA’ (Conceive Believe Achieve) I set about programming it into my mind through daily repetition. Learning Latin vocabulary at boarding school had already shown me the practical effectiveness that repetition has on the human mind. CBA certainly did work for me, often enough, to be one of the most useful tools I have ever distilled. Many times since then I have used the CBA thinking skill in a very deliberate way to make my life more interesting – sometimes for profit, often for fun and nearly always as a premeditated experiment to demonstrate its effectiveness. I have found CBA to be a lot like a useful investment strategy – it doesn’t work every time but it works often enough to make it worthwhile.
The door-to-door selling experience also made me curious about the theory of ‘selling’ and the excesses of the American business culture. I began to read up on it. Most of the books were the same. They were full of exhortation and closing techniques. There were big promises of success if you believed, and threats of failure if you didn’t. Success or failure. Right or wrong. Black or white. Heaven or Hell. Hmmm. This was vaguely familiar. Where had I heard all this before?
It was another decade before I really understood the religious fervour behind the American sales training model. It arose out of Middle America in the ’40s and ’50s and was based on the American version of the bible. Indeed, many of the US sales gurus were also preachers, men like Norman Vincent Peale, Robert Schuller and Zig Ziglar. I nicknamed this approach oldsell. By this time I was living in the US and was teaching a heretical sales training strategy of my own which I called newsell. They were amazed. These ‘Australian heresies’ were getting much better sales results. And this was well before Crocodile Dundee came along.
WOMBAT Selling (WOMBAT stands for Word Of Mouth Buy And Tell) explains the difference between oldsell and newsell in today’s business world. Earlier editions of this book, published under the title NewSell, came out in 1990 and 1994. This new edition develops the WOMBAT sales and marketing strategy which is all about selling by word of mouth. Everyone is a WOMBAT, all the time. This is the biggest insight from this book, and by Part Three you should be able to get it, and the more you get this insight, the more you’ll get from this book. Here it is again:
WOMBAT Selling has only a tenth of the information that I’d like to put into it, but I’m told that customers don’t want thick tomes anymore, so there’s no sense in publishing them. However, I have included additional information in my Newsell Coaching Program at www.newsellcoaching.com for those who are interested. For this edition I have synthesized the best of all the earlier editions and introduced some new developments since the Internet and e-commerce have so suddenly and dramatically changed the business environment. This book is designed for anyone interested in selling and leadership, especially those who are interacting with customers.
If you really want (desire) to upgrade your selling and marketing skills, then you not only have to change the way you think about how you sell, but you also have to change the way you think about how you think. This is why there is such a strong link between thinking, selling and leadership.
The purpose of this book is to change the way you think about selling (and leadership, which is just another kind of selling). Robert Louis Stevenson once said, ‘Everyone is a salesman’. This is truer today than ever before. Everyone is a customer, that’s for sure. The mood of the market has evolved from the salesperson-centered approach of the 1950s as promoted in the US, to the customer-centered approach of the 1980s as promoted in Australia, and now the meme-centered approach of the 2000s as promoted in cyberspace by search engines like Google and Yahoo. It continues to evolve.
Growth is critical to all business. Things can’t stay the same because the market is always changing. You’re either growing or you’re shrinking. If you are like most people, business growth in your brain is governed by the current growth pattern of ‘10 per cent per annum’ – an idea which came out of the Industrial Revolution. But, of course, things have changed dramatically since then . . .
There are many different and interesting ways that readers have used the new kind of sales training presented in this book to accelerate the growth of their business. This new kind of sales training is called newsell.
Newsell goes beyond traditional sales training. It is not of the oldsell-type, evangelical, high pressure, motivational, quasi-religious kind. Research shows again and again that most customers reject these oldfashioned ‘closing-the-sale’ ploys and car-salesman tricks that originated in Middle America in the ’50s. This new kind of sales training was developed in the relatively small but sophisticated Australian market and then exported to the US in the ’80s and ’90s.
Newsell is young, fast and scientific. It is also professional, relaxed and ethical, but the results are commercial, immediate and measurable. Newsell has produced ten times the results of the oldsell methods!
NOTE: On Acronyms and Repetition --- pdf page 19
Important Memo to CEOS – pdf page 22
Go To Chapter 1 -- pdf Pages 26 - 35
This html-coded online version of the Wombat Final 15/5/06 9:12 AM -- wombatbook.pdf, was prepared by Darlene Sartore with some minor adaptations and color texting, for use only by course presenters certified by An Ever Better World Internet Academy. Permission granted from author on March 5, 2007.