By Holland Cooke
BLOCK ISLAND, RI — The Guinness Book of World Records pronounced Joe Girard “The World’s Greatest Salesman.” He became the number one car and truck salesman in the world, “new ones, at retail, no fleet deals, one at a time, face to face,” 13,001 vehicles in 15 years. And in 1977 he sold me a book you should buy too: “How to Sell Anything to Anybody” changed my life. It’s on Amazon.
“If you’re in radio, you’re in sales”
When the late Gary Fries ran the Radio Advertising Bureau, that was his mantra. And smart hosts and DJs are very sales-involved. Some carry a list; but simply riding-along on calls with reps earns a client connection and product knowledge that make the talent part of the advertiser’s team.
But think beyond dollars-for-airtime transactions. We’re all selling, in the way we deal with each other day-to-day. Apply the interpersonal tactics Girard describes – and the empathy he honed building his success template – and things just seem to… go better.
Girard’s Rule of 250
Based on what he learned from event planners and funeral directors, Joe reckons that “everybody knows 250 people in his or her life important enough to invite to the wedding and to the funeral.” So “every time you turn off just one prospect, you turn off 250.”
Conversely, when a radio DJ or host – “a somebody” – makes a favorable impression, that too, gets around. Your warm smile, eye contact, and saying the other person’s name all resound, and will reverberate.
“Remember: It’s your business, no matter whom you work for or what you sell”
As a GM was signing bonus checks, he said “two of my reps are making more than I am this month!” When I smiled, he winked, “and I’ll sign THOSE checks all day!”
Joe Girard got rich throwing spaghetti at the wall: “If you get twice as many people to come to you, you will sell twice as many.” And you will feel like you’re shadowing him in action as you read the detail in his method. He shares a crafty script for cold phone calls, there’s a whole chapter on “Getting Them To Read The Mail;” and how to “get your barber to talk about you” is utterly canny.
Joe’s 1960s/70s database was 3×5 cards, and now we have Excel spreadsheets and contact management systems. But his workmanlike technique is timeless.
“Car salesman” conjures a caricature, but to Girard, selling is a proud profession. And he makes a point that also applies to content creators: “The commonest reason for losing a customer who seemed really interested is not listening enough.”