Somebody sent me a copy of the book, but I can't remember who. The title has become so generic that most of us probably have used it one time or another in casual conversation. But to a lot of us that's as far as it has gone, and so it was with me. I'm referring to Dale Carnegie's How To Win Friends and Influence People. I was sitting at my desk the other day and started browsing through its pages. I couldn't put it down. It's filled with such powerful, common-sense advice on dealing with people that no matter who you are you can't help but benefit from Carnegie's stories. To read it is a refresher course on being a decent human being. And if you happen to be in sales it offers all kinds of success-oriented ideas.
According to Carnegie there are six principles to live by that will help make people like you. His first: "Become genuinely interested in other people." The point is that people become interested in you if you show interest in them. It's a two-way street, but too many of us don't seem to comprehend this. For instance, those first starting out in sales are usually a little apprehensive about making calls. The first question that comes up is what to say as an opening. Unfortunately, many sales rookies start off by talking so much they turn off their prospects. I urge new salespeople to begin a call with a statement like: "I'm new to this business and I wonder if you would be kind enough to tell me about your company." Nobody can resist an invitation to talk about their work. I know one salesperson who called on a top executive who told her in no uncertain terms he had only 10 minutes to spare. She started by asking him to talk about his company, and three hours later he invited the salesperson to have dinner with his family. That salesperson still delights in retelling the story.
Principle No. 2: "Smile." Go ahead and do it. Smile at everyone you meet. Even if you don't feel like smiling, do it anyway. Smiling makes people feel good about themselves and about you. Nobody likes to be around people who are always frowning. It's just human nature. But smile and everyone will smile with you. I've seen it work miracles.
Principle No. 3: "Remember that a person's name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language." Remembering someone's name is one of the greatest compliments you can give to another. It means that person made a deep impression on you and makes him or her feel special. It's such a simple thing, but it sure has an impact.
Principle No. 4: "Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves." It's what all good conversationalists have learned over the years. Ask questions and get people to talk about what they have accomplished in life. It's a sign of respect. It also shows humility-something we all admire in others.
Principle No. 5: "Talk in terms of the other person's interests." Many a salesperson has sold an account just by learning about a prospect's hobbies and then asking that person to talk about them. Whatever it is, talking about those things helps the other person develop a bond with you. I've seen it happen hundreds of times. In one case, a salesperson just couldn't seem to sell a certain account. But along the way, with the help of the prospect's secretary, she found out the person loved dogs. She had a dog herself, and the next time she called on the prospect she brought up the subject. An animated, hourlong conversation ensued, and down the line she finally landed the account.
Principle No. 6: "Make the other person feel important-and do it sincerely." Have you ever received a compliment? Of course you have, and you know how good it makes you feel. We're all like that. Never miss an opportunity to compliment people. It just might make someone's day. But sincerity should be the key word in all these principles. Remember, people can always spot a phony.
Have a heart,
Charles S. Lauer