Written By Jeffrey Gitomer

KING OF SALES, The author of seventeen best-selling books including The Sales Bible, The Little Red Book of Selling, and The Little Gold Book of Yes! Attitude. His live coaching program, Sales Mastery, is available at

What can you do to get better? Follow the masters.

I began this year in retrospect by reading a 50-year-old book on the masters of selling. The book, titled “America’s Twelve Master Salesmen,” was written and published by B.C. Forbes & Sons in 1953.

The book was based on the fact that each one of these master salesmen had one extremely powerful overriding principle or philosophy upon which his or her success was based.

Not that it was their “only,” but rather were the words they stood for. When you think of Martin Luther King – you think of “I Have A Dream.” He stood for those words. When you think of Patrick Henry – you think of “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death. When you think of Richard Nixon – you think “I’m Not a Crook” (and you’d be thinking wrong).

It is amazing how truths become self evident after thirty or forty years of exposure – one way or the other.

Back to the book. Suppose you could adopt (or adapt) all of these master’s single best characteristic into your own set of capabilities. That would be power.

And so, to challenge your 2003, here are the master’s philosophies from 1953. And yes, I have added my own to the list – even though in 1953 I was a mere babe.

1. James A. Farley (corporate executive) Principle: Idlers do not last long. Starting as a door-to-door salesman, raising to vice president of sales for Universal Gypsum, and ultimately a board of director for several large companies including Coca-Cola, Farley believed that doing several things at once was the key to accomplishment. His secret was doing new things at the same time he was following up and building relationships. Often sending 100 letters a day, he was renowned for making and keeping friends.

2. Max Hess, Jr. (retail store chain owner) Principle: Strive for a specific goal. My father used to say, “There’s no fun or excitement in just running a store. That way it’s drudgery. The fun and excitement come out of always figuring ways to stay ahead of the other fellow.” He believed in the stimulating power of keeping Hess Brothers forever exciting – exciting not only for the people who shop there but for those who work in the store. Hess made a business plan full of goals. And in a small town environment achieved big city results by working his plan every day, and having a happy army of people (his employees) helping him every step of the way.

3. Conrad N. Hilton (hotel owner) Principle: Make them want to come back. “It is our theory that when a hotel is in the top-glamour category… you just can’t make it too luxurious. You heap it on. You never stop pondering the question, ‘What aren’t guests getting that they might be getting in the way of elegance and personal attention?'” Hilton knew that one hotel is like any other hotel. The difference is in how you treat the guests. All he asked of his employees was to be nice to people so they will want to come back. They have been coming back for nearly 100 years.

4. Alex M. Lewyt (manufacturer of the Lewyt vacuum cleaner) Principle: Believe in your product and love it. So will the world! He was a engineer that was convinced that he had built the world’s best vacuum cleaner. Advertised it before production was finished. Created a demand in the market with no product (a market vacuum if you will pardon the pun). When the cleaner finally emerged on the market, it was swept up (sorry again). Four million sales in four years. Lewyt said that having the best product is not enough. You must believe it’s the best, and share your passion through every marketing and advertising means.

5. Alfred E. Lyon (street salesman in Manhattan and later corporate executive) Principle: Sell yourself first. “Remember, your customers don’t buy your product. They buy you. If they buy you, they will sell your product for you.” His approach of, “I treat my potential customers as I would treat a stranger whom I wanted to be my friend,” was a benchmark for his success. He realized that people buy from people they like. And all he did was to get people liking him, and the rest was easy.

6. Mary Margaret McBride (radio broadcaster and columnist. Influencer of millions) Principle: Honesty is the best policy. “If I am convinced in my heart and mind that I’m speaking the truth, I approach the job as I would a sale — with zest and interest. And in my heart I know that I am actually performing a service on behalf of my listener — who is in reality, my customer. Honesty breeds loyal customers.” Her values made her a fortune.

GITOMER NOTE ON HONESTY: When you hear a corporate message like: “To serve you better…” or an employee says, “We’re doing the best we can…,” no matter how you want to defend those words, they’re lies.

The Orison Swett Marden quote: “No substitute has yet been found for honesty,” is a benchmark that everyone will read and agree with — yet very few will follow.

7. Arthur H. “Red” Motley Principle: Nothing happens until somebody sells something. He sold for the Fuller Brush Company door to door in the 1920’s, he sold cough syrup with a traveling medicine show, he sold advertising for Collier’s Magazine, he founded Parade Magazine (still in existence today inserted into Sunday papers), and he created an (maybe THE) all time legendary philosophy of sales: Nothing happens until somebody sells something.

As a trainer in the 40’s and 50’s Motley created a simple 15-word sales course which covered every element important to begin or master. 1. Know your product.2. See a lot of people.3. Ask all to buy.4. Use common sense.Remember this was the 40’s. No TV, computer, fax, or cell phone. People actually wrote letters.

At the end of his working career he became one of the most sought after sales speakers and trainers in the world.

He had another philosophy: “One of the reasons we do so much business in America is because we have learned not to make the customer wait. Wants created that remain unsatisfied for any appreciable length of time usually die.” Pity he wasn’t around today to hear “your call will be answered in the order in which it was received.”

8. Dr. Norman Vincent Peale Principle: Have faith in people – they are basically good. Author of the timeless classic, “the Power of Positive Thinking,” Peale used the pulpit to preach the importance and the personal power of achievement through attaining a positive attitude. The spirit and the spirituality of attitude, and the success it can bring are timeless and more needed today than fifty years ago. If you just get Dr. Peale’s book and read two pages a day for a year or so, you’re on the right path.

9. Winthrop Smith Principle: The Queen is in the counting house…Known for publishing the free booklet, and running free seminars on “What You Should Know about Stocks and Bonds,” Smith, the President of what is known today as Merrill Lynch created an “everyman’s” desire for investing. His passion was to teach people about the power of their own money, and how they could invest it to secure their future income. And he did. And they invested in stocks and bonds with his firm. His associates nicknamed him “Win.” Not short for Winthrop — short for winner. He became a winner by helping others win.

10. William Zeckendorf Principle: Fact plus imagination plus action.Will Rogers once said, “Buy land, they’re not making any more of it.” William Zeckendorf took that advice several steps further. He bought it, and developed it. Of course his innovative ideas often met with opposition from city planners, but over time (and a winning track record) he developed a reputation nationwide for successful projects, and was eventually wooed by cities looking for new ideas. He stated the facts, presented the plan — and made it a success with a family tradition: work hard.

In 1976, I remarked to one of my mentors that he seemed to have a lot of luck. Every project he undertook seemed to end up golden. He replied, “Hard work makes luck.” Those words have stuck with me since then.

11. Thomas J. Watson Principle: Pack your today’s with effort – extra effort. He was a salesman and later corporate officer for NCR under the tutelage of John Patterson. “No. I don’t want to buy a cash register.” “I know you don’t. That’s why I came to see you. I knew if you wanted one you would come down to the office and pick one out. What I’ve come for is to find out why you don’t want one.” Watson realized that to overcome an objection, he had to walk in with answers. This took extra preparation on the part of the salesman — extra effort. Was the extra effort he put into his sales career worth it? Door to door selling cash registers, and inventing creative new ways to approach the customer? After leaving NCR as one of their all time great salespeople, you may also know Watson for his second career — the founder of another company — IBM.

12. Elmer G. Leterman Principle: Neglected customers never buy: They just fade away. This principle merges the significance of three relationship factors of customer loyalty — giving value to the customer — staying in front of the customer — and serving the customer. He added to this strategy the personal philosophy of: “I have adhered to a personal rule of trying to do for the other fellow what he can’t do for himself – without any strings attached.” He wrote. Leterman was also the first to write on sales creativity in the 1950’s: “Personal Power Through Creative Selling.” Elmer Leterman was one of the best sales speakers, sales writers, and progressive strategists of his time. He is my personal favorite.

12.5 Jeffrey Gitomer Principle: People don’t like to be sold – but they love to buy. Unlike the other masters, my statement is not only the philosophy by which I live my sales life it is also a registered trademark. If salespeople would just stop selling, and transfer that energy into creating an atmosphere to buy, they (you) would double your sales.

Well, there’s the list of people and their prime philosophies and principles.

What principles are you known by? What is your primary success strategy?What would someone say your philosophy was – if they had to boil it down to one sentence? What have you done to live your philosophy, to brand your philosophy, to make your philosophy known to others by your writings and by your actions?

If the answer to these questions is painfully obvious to you, perhaps this should be your year of transition. Perhaps this should be a year where you take a closer look at your bigger picture rather than a frustrated look at your quota and monthly sales achievements.

If you look at the above people, and you think any of them never had a problem achieving their goals or life’s dreams – think again. Every one of them had failure and adversity in one form or another. Everyone has challenges. These are people who by adopting and living a philosophy or a principal, became successful in spite of adversity. And not successful to you or me, rather successful to themselves – the only place success matters (you may want to adjust your thinking about success as well).

Please DON’T email me and ask me where to buy this book. It has probably been out of print for 45 years or more. Go to and search for a used one.

Please DO email me ( if you would like to share your prime principle. They will all be published in my free weekly newsletter (Sales Caffeine) — and the top ten will get a free “coffee is for closers” coffee mug.

Free GitBit… The Author of this book, the late great B.C. Forbes had a formula for sales. It’s yours for the taking. Go to — register if you’re a first time user — and enter FORBES in the GitBit box.

Jeffrey Gitomer, author of The Sales Bible, and Customer Satisfaction is Worthless, Customer Loyalty is Priceless. President of Charlotte-based Buy Gitomer, he gives seminars, runs annual sales meetings, and conducts internet training programs on selling and customer service at He can be reached at 704/333-1112 or e-mail to

2003 All Rights Reserved – Don’t even think about reproducing this document without writtenpermission from Jeffrey Gitomer.