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48 Selling Tips From the King of Advertising

        posted by , February 17, 2013

David Ogilvy was a heck of an advertising man.

He dominated the advertising industry for over 30 years and retired like a king to his private castle in France.

But before he was an advertising man, David Ogilvy was a salesman.

Actually, before his advertising career he unsuccessfully ran a farm in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Before that, he worked for the British Intelligence Service (WWII). Before that, he was a salesman ....

In the 1930s, David Ogilvy sold AGA cooking stoves door to door in the United Kingdom. He was good at selling cooking stoves. So good, that his employer asked him to write their sales manual (Ogilvy was only 24 at the time).

The manual he wrote "The Theory and Practice of Selling the AGA Cooker" has been called the finest sales manual ever written (Fortune Magazine).

The following 48 quotes come directly from the manual and represent its key selling advice.

Establish rapport & trust

Ogilvy recommends connecting with your customer on a personal level with politeness, humor, humility and common sense approaches to building trust.

The worst fault a salesman can commit is to be a bore.

Be as polite as you know how. Never lose your temper.

Never talk down or show superior knowledge.

Foster any attempt to talk about other things; the longer you stay the better you get to know the prospect, and the more you will be trusted. Pretend to be vastly interested in any subject the prospect shows an interest in.

Never appeal to a prospect's pity because the more prosperous you appear the more she is likely to be impressed with you and to believe in you and your Aga.

The more she talks the better, and if you can make her laugh you are several points up.

When the prospect tries to bring the interview to a close, go gracefully. It can only hurt to be kicked out.

Pepper your talk with anecdote and jokes.

Accumulate a repertoire of illustration.

The longer you talk to a prospect, the better, and you will not do this if you're a bore.

Above all, laugh till you cry every time the prospect makes a joke

A deadly serious demonstration is bound to fail. If you can't make a lady laugh, you certainly cannot maker buy.

People are impressed by what they hear far more than by what they read.

A talkative prospect is a good thing.

The dumb prospect is too often equally deaf.

Be aggressive

It's not exactly a novel idea that a salesperson should be aggressive. However, Ogilvy has an interesting take on the idea ...

Go to the back door (most salesmen go to the front door ...

The good salesman combines the tenacity of a bull dog with the manners of a spaniel. If you have any charm, ooze it.

The more prospects you talk to, the more sales you expose yourself to, the more orders you will get.

Research, research, research

Door-to-door sales people didn't usually research their prospects in the 1930s — they just knocked on a door and hoped for the best.

Here Ogilvy shows early signs of his marketing brilliance (Ogilvy is considered the father of modern marketing research).

Study the methods of you competitors and do the exact opposite.

Find out all you can about your prospects before you call on them.

Know the competition but keep quiet with what you know

Ogilvy recommends competitive intelligence as a means of forming strategy, pitches and overcoming objections. He doesn't recommend directly talking about the competition unless cornered to do so ...

Find out all you possibly can about the merits, faults and sales arguments of competitors, and then keep quiet about them.

Try and avoid being drawn into discussing competitive makes of cooker, as it introduces a negative and defensive atmosphere.

On no account sling mud-it can carry very little weight, coming from you, and it will make the prospect distrust your integrity and dislike you.

Profound knowledge of other cookers will help you put your positive case for Aga more convincingly.

If you are invited to give your opinion of any particular make of cooker, damn it with faint praise.. What you leave unsaid will kill.

Know your product

The guide includes a great number of sales points for the AGA Cooker. Ogilvy recommends knowing your product inside out. He also recommends thinking through the motivations of different types of customers.

Quality of salesmanship involves energy, time and knowledge of the product.

It is hopeless to try and sell a single Aga unless you know something about cookery and appear to know more than you actually do.

Know all the answers backwards without learning them by heart.

Selling is a military campaign, stay on the attack and develop defenses

While Ogilvy recommends developing defenses (e.g. to objections) he stresses the importance of staying on the attack ...

Selling does not materially differ from military campaigning, and we may analyse it under two main headings, ATTACK and DEFENCE.

The ideal to aim at is to make your attack so thorough that the enemy is incapable of counter-attack, to pile up points in every round and to hand out a K.O. before the last gong; to anticipate every objection without suggesting bogies.

The attack is the positive task of stimulating the prospect to want an Aga more than anything in the world.

The defence is the negative task of removing obstacles which seem to the prospect to lie between her and her dearest wish.

Never get maneuvered into a permanent defense; it will become a retreat.

Defence must be developed as quickly as possible into counter attack.

Develop compelling sales pitches

Ogilvy would go on to write some of the most successful ad slogans in history. His early advice on sales pitches is fascinating ...

Perhaps the most important thing of all is to avoid standardization in your sales talk. If you find yourself on fine day saying the same things to a bishop and a trapezist, you are done for.

Suggest that the Aga can be bought by hire-purchase (lease) and that it will pay its own installments.

Do not lead the cook to suppose that she will have to relearn her job.

An occasional flowery phrase is called for to allow your enthusiasm full scope ...

Some salesmen expound their subject academically, so that at the end the prospect feels no more inclination to buy the AGA than she would to buy the planet Jupiter after a broadcast from the Astronomer Royal.

Build customer relationships, don't go over people's heads

Oglivy is ahead of his time in seeing the importance of customer relationships. He recommends influencing everyone in the decision-making chain. For example, he gives the following advice for cooks ...

If there is a cook in the house, she is bound to have the casting vote over the new cookers.
Butter her up. Never go above her head. Before the sale and afterwards as a user a cook can be your bitterest enemy or your best friend; she can poison a whole district or act as your secret
representative. The AGA will mean for her an extra hour in bed, and a kitchen as clean as a drawing room….

Objections are your friend, it means that your prospect is seriously considering a deal ....

Oglivy provides insightful advice to overcoming objections. He notes that objections are the salesperson's friend because they indicate that your prospect may be close to a yes.

you must always be faced soon or later with questions and objections which may indeed be taken as a sign that the prospect's brain is in working order

If she argues a lot, do not give the impression of knowing all the answers by heart and always being one up on her. She will think you are too smart by half, and mistrust your integrity.

Learn to recognize a really valid reason for the prospect being unable to order (there are mighty few such reasons). With these reservations you cannot be too tenacious or too persevering.

Positive argument is more persuasive than negative argument

(If) you have barked up the wrong tree. Change gracefully to another argument, without giving the impression that any wind has gone out of your sails.

To show that you are completely stumped on any point is fatal, for it stimulates the prospect to attack, puts you on the defensive, and, worst of all, gives the impression that you do not know your job.

Reply to objections quietly and firmly; don't be too smart; return naturally to the attack.

How to overcome objections ...

Oglivy gives several examples in the guide of techniques of countering objections. They show his marketing brilliance. For example, if an old couple suggests that they're too old to invest in home improvements he suggests ....

Don’t forget that the AGA increases expectation of life.
People come to live life more and more in the house as they grow old. A house which is smoothly
run means everything to old people, and food comes to pay an increasingly important part in their
lives as death approaches. And what an heirloom!

This post is an installment in the ongoing series of articles called how to win at sales.

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How to Win At Sales A collection of sales tools that are based upon everything from military strategy to Zig Ziglar — all designed to help you and your team to sell.

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