Book Review: The 5 Great Rules of Selling

Book Review: The 5 Great Rules of Selling Making a sale is by far one of the most important skills in business, and in life in general. Whether you are selling yourself, selling a product, or selling an idea, everyone sells (or attempts to sell) every day. “The 5 Great Rules of Selling” by Percy H. Whiting stands out because, although it was copyrighted in 1947, the basic sales principles talked about in this book still apply today.

The author states, “No basic selling rule or principle has been invented in the last hundred years. We have however made some improvements.” This is very true. Since selling has been around forever, why not learn from the successes and mistakes of the past? This book lists five of the most fundamental rules of selling and explains why each of them are so critical. This blog will summarize each rule and explain why Percy H. Whiting puts so much value into them.

The 5 Great Rules of Selling that will be outlined in this blog are:

Get Their Attention

Develop their Interest

Inspire a Conviction

Raise their Desire

Close the sale

Attention- If you cannot gain your prospect’s attention, why even proceed to the next step? This seems very simple but is often an undervalued step. Some salespeople are so ready to get to the close, that they jump over the attention step. How do you gain a prospect’s attention? There can be many ways, but here are a few:

Ask a question that gains your prospects attention

Make a startling statement, or “explosion” as Whiting describes it (Hello, when I tell you what business I am in, you are going to throw me out the window)

The mystery opener (Here can you taste this?)

The Famous Person or big-name opener (Hey, Michael Jordan just loves this product…)

These are just a few examples, and I will allow you to read the book to go into more detail about each one. Learn more about getting your prospect’s attention in Chapter 14.

Interest- Now that you have the prospect’s attention, how do you keep them interested? Whiting describes in the book how to arouse the prospects’ interests by telling them how the product can benefit them personally. The difference between getting someone’s attention and gaining their interest was described by the author in a brief analogy.

In my words: Pretend you are a baseball player, and you are warming up. The Umpire says “Play Ball” to get your attention. When the umpire says “Batter up”, now you are even more interested because you are the first batter. The author describes that the Umpire could have jumped right to it and just said “Batter up”, but would you, being the first batter, have preferred it that way? In most cases, no. You appreciated the heads up with “Play ball” before being personally put on the spot with “Batter up.”

Learn more about developing someone’s interest in Chapter 16.

Conviction- This is where you describe the important facts of your product or service in relation to how the buyer will be using it. The length in time of this step will often depend on how much more convincing is needed before making a sale. Read Chapter 19 for more details on this step.

Desire- Whiting gives several ways to arouse desire. Some are self-preservation, greed, pride, prestige, family, sexual attraction, etc. By now, your prospect hopefully can picture themselves using your product or service. Check out Chapter 30 for more information about raising your prospect’s desire.

Close- The last of the five great rules of selling is the close. By now, if you have successfully gone through the progression of the first 4 steps, this step should be easy. Oftentimes, the close can be as simple as asking for an order. However, there are times where a salesperson may have to backtrack to one of the previous steps to close the sale. Information about closing the sale starts on Chapter 36.

After the close section, the book goes on to give examples of how other people have been successful in working through the steps and closing the deal.

One of the most important things I got from the book is that selling is often based on the steps listed above. They can be adjusted and customized to fit your prospects needs, and even your feelings, but sales are often made using these five great rules of selling. However, the concept of making a sale doesn’t always involve a literal salesperson and a prospect. It could be a husband “selling” his wife on where to go to dinner. It could be a kid “selling” his parent on why he should have a certain toy. It could be a teacher “selling” a student on why it is important to turn their homework in. Selling happens everyday all over the world. This book will go into much more detail than this short blog, and for those that are interested, it could be beneficial.



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