The Secret of Selling Anything: Book Summary

The Secret of Selling Anything by Harry Browne.

“You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.”  Zig Ziglar also said “the most important persuasion tool you have in your entire arsenal is integrity.” I hope what follows will help you help other people get what they want.

“It is impossible for our minds to conceive of a reason for any individual’s actions – except that he thinks it will bring him happiness”

We’re all different. We’ve all lived different lives. And although we all want happiness, we all experience happiness in different ways. Thus, your belief of what will bring you happiness will differ from every other human being, because happiness is relative to you. Since your resources (time, energy, knowledge) are limited, you must choose constantly between many alternatives. You do this by placing a value on everything you see. These values lead you to prefer one thing more than another.

“It’s a universal fallacy that someone would willingly accept something unprofitable to himself.”

PROFIT: We all seek profit (of one kind or another), which means we all seek to increase our own happiness in whatever way we can. This doesn’t mean we can’t imagine a happier life for ourselves, but based on the resources and alternatives available to us, we’re doing what makes us happy in the moment. If happiness were not relative, we’d all value everything equally. Under those conditions, mutually-profitable exchanges would not be possible, and we’d all steal from each other to obtain what we simultaneously value the most.

It’s a universal fallacy that someone would willingly accept something unprofitable to himself. He may make an exchange that you would never make, but he will not willingly make an exchange that will lower his perceived value. Profit therefore, is a reward for satisfying the desire of someone else.

“If you could produce everything you want in this world all by yourself, you’d have no reason to satisfy others.”

VALUE: Since we desire things we can’t produce, we have to satisfy others to obtain what we want. However, it’s not how much work we put into a task that determines what we’ll receive for it in exchange, it’s the value someone else places upon our product or service that determines what it’s worth.

Our “costs” are not important to other people, they only care about the value of our product to themselves. Entrepreneurship is basically a calculation: the ability to figure out what people want, when they’ll want it, and how much they’re willing to pay to get it. When we succeed, it’s because we’ve made available something people want, rather than offering something people don’t want.

“The secret of success is: Find out what people want and help them get it!”

You can’t guess! You actually need to go out into the marketplace and find out what people want most, how much they’re willing to pay for it, and then go to work to provide it. Great salespeople don’t deceive themselves into thinking people buy things they don’t want. Ninety nine percent of salespeople try to motivate their prospects, and that’s their mistake. We’re not capable of motivating anyone. Everyone is already motivated. The only question is “By what?” Your job as a salesperson is to find someone’s existing motivation and demonstrate that your product will help them get what they want.

“No one ever buys a product, he buys what the product will accomplish.”

STEP 1 – DISCOVER THE MOTIVATION: The basic question you’re asking is, “What does someone want to accomplish through the purchase of my product?” For example, you could say: “There are many facets of my product. I could probably talk for hours about it; but that wouldn’t do either one of us any good. And I’m not really sure that my product does the things you’re looking for. Could we take a few minutes first to talk about your situation? Then we can determine whether or not I have something profitable to offer you.”

“There is nothing as exciting to an individual as the discovery that someone else truly understands what he’s up against.”

STEP 2 – SUMMARIZE THE MOTIVATION: People only buy things when they decide they are profitable. So you need to be sure you’ve understood them correctly when they told you what would be profitable to them. Even if you’re sure you understand what their motivation is, you should still summarize it. It gets everything out in the open, where it’s clearly understood between you both. You are setting the qualifications for the sale.

“The only features of your product that are important are those he’s indicated are of concern to him.”

STEP 3 – PRESENT THE PRODUCT: In step 3, you’re playing back to him his own comments in terms of your product. Forget all the wonderful things that inspired the last prospect. Forget all the sales pointers they gave you back at the office. Your job now is to talk to your prospect in ways that will show him how he can get what he wants. Everything you say should be aligned to something he said in step one. If you don’t have what he’s looking for, the only way you could make the sale would be to lie. Why make it difficult for yourself by being dishonest? Selling is easy. Moreover, don’t be afraid to bring up the drawbacks of your product. They exist and he’ll recognize them sooner or later. Let him know that you’re aware of them. That way, he won’t be afraid there are others that you’re hiding from him.

“A key word in selling is empathy. Empathy is the ability to identify with another person’s life. Empathy enables you to feel his desires, understand his attitudes.”

STEP 4 – ANSWER QUESTIONS: Handle any reservations or objections the prospect may have; make sure he fully understands the proposal and the way it will satisfy his motives. In handling objections, don’t try to overrule the prospect’s thinking. Instead, use the listen-agree-suggest technique. Hear him out, then agree. That means to recognize that he’s raised a thoughtful point, one that merits his concern. It is a valid point – after all, he’s the buyer and it concerns him; it must be valid. Then you iron out any details or questions in a period of informal conversation between you.

“In a smooth close, you are merely encouraging the buyer to do what he has already decided he wants to do.”

STEP 5 – CLOSE: You should never find yourself locked in a life-and-death struggle with the buyer when it comes time to close the sale. If you’ve done your job properly in the first four steps, you only have to encourage him now to do what he wants to do. Never leave a sales interview without one of three things: 1) an order, 2) a definite “no” because you can’t give the prospect what he wants, or 3) an understanding of when the prospect intends to make his decision and on what basis. If the prospect asks for a cooling off period, react with a three-part plan: 1) find out when and how he will make the decision; 2) plan to call him half-way before the intended time; and 3) call him again if still necessary, at the appointed time.