Business management

Summary of the Book The Greatest Salesman in the World

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The Greatest Salesman in the World was first published in 1968, then reissued and published in 1983. 

Personally, we find it incredible that after more than 50 years this book is still one of the most read sales books. 

One reason that may explain this is that it is a book for salespeople, which was not written by a salesperson and contains no sales techniques

Its author, Og Madino, was a psychologist and essayist. 

In just 128 pages, he explains that one of the most effective things you can do to become a better salesperson is to try to be a better person. 

Here we go for the summary! 


De beste verkoper in de wereld


What is the starting point of The Greatest Salesman in the World ?

Whether you are a salesperson or not, whether your activity is commerce or not, you also sell at some points. 

When you negotiate with your partner to decide which movie you will watch together during the evening, you are selling. Your ideas are more precise. 

When chatting with friends about whether you should go to that bar or go for another plan, the same is true. This is sales

And if you have children, the negotiation and sales phases are perpetual. 

That's why it's important to learn how to sell, but where to start? 

You could (and should) start studying sales books, but Og Madino presents a more holistic approach and challenges you to answer this question: 

What are the skills that would enable you to improve yourself as a person and also as a salesperson? 

And The World's Biggest Seller identifies 5 key skills to answer this question.


The 5 key skills of the The Greatest Salesman in the World.

  • Habits
  • Persistence
  • Trust
  • Control of your emotions
  • and (non) procrastination

Why are habits so important to The Greatest Salesman in the World?

Habits are all those activities that you do almost on autopilot that don't require a lot of effort.

  • Having good habits, like starting to make prospecting calls early in the day, helps you become a better salesperson.
  • Having bad habits, like not filling in CRM data when you end a call, makes it difficult for you.

This is why habits are as important in your daily life as they are in selling. 

There are many strategies for working on your habits, but the most effective are the ones about your environment and the rewards. 

If you want to reinforce a habit, remove any possible distractions from your surroundings, and reward yourself when you do. 

If you want to break a bad habit, remove anything from your surroundings that might remind you of the bad habit and reward yourself when you don't do this bad habit. 

It sounds simple and the principle is. But the shift to practice doesn't have to be. 

To achieve this, you will need to show persistence. Fortunately, this is the second key skill for Og Madino.

Why is it important to be persistent?

Sales are difficult. 

The average salesperson receives more refusals in a typical workday than most people in an entire month. 

And because people are programmed to avoid rejection and seek acceptance, the sales job becomes difficult. 

Imagine a pharmaceutical representative who has spent all day in the field, going from pharmacy to the doctor's office. At the end of the day, his or her feet hurt and he/she didn't sell anything. 
For him or her, it would be easier to give up and think that tomorrow will be another day. 

However, if he/she perseveres and pushes to the next clinic, he/she might have THE big sale of the month. 
To help you persevere, don't lose sight of the statistics. If you sign 1 in 10 sales, the ninth rejection is just the doorway to success. 

To get hold of this idea, you'll need Og Madino's third key skill.

Why is trust important in The Greatest Salesman in the World ?

Confidence in yourself, in numbers, and in anything else is key to being a good salesperson or for any area of life. 

According to the author, the best way to generate this trust is love. 

Self-esteem to generate self-confidence and love of others to have confidence in them. 

Fortunately, the wall between these areas is thin and permeable. So if you improve on one type of confidence, you will improve on the other. 
What's the best way to do this according to The World's Biggest Seller?

  • Show love to people.
  • Praise people from the bottom of your heart.
  • Really help them as much as possible.
  • Use good words.
  • Don't play smart.
  • If you say you are going to do something, do it.

This is not always easy, and to achieve this, the fourth Key Skill discussed in this book comes in handy.


Why is emotional control important in selling?

If you are angry it is very difficult to build confidence, it is very difficult to be persistent, and it is very difficult to keep up good habits. 

Most salespeople have their ups and downs. There are times that are quite tense, with a lot of anger and others that are calmer and relaxed. 

Neither state is conducive to selling, or most of life's hard activities. 

You need to find an intermediate state, which allows you to be awake and active, but in which there is no trace of tension, anger, or discomfort. 

Staying in this gray area is difficult, and yet it is the key.


What is the last great skill in The World's Biggest Seller?

The last major area covered in this book is procrastination. 

You and us, like everyone else, tend to put off less pleasant tasks as much as possible. 

That's okay when it lasts a day. The problem is, it never lasts more than one day. 

Procrastination is a vicious cycle. Every time you procrastinate, you are setting the stage to keep doing it. 

Fortunately, it also works the other way around. Every time you resist the temptation to procrastinate, you get a little stronger to start over. 

There are complicated and boring tasks that a salesperson has to do, like prospecting, mining data, or setting sales goals. Procrastinating is the worst way to deal with them.


All of these lessons make The Greatest Salesman in the World a spectacular book for sale and for life.

In short, in order to be successful as a salesperson, you need to set yourself some good habits: being optimistic, persistent, determined to improve yourself, and learning to deal with your emotions. 

These actions will not only help you reach your sales goals but also help you become a better person. 

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Learn more about: 
Point of sale: What is it and what benefits do you get 
How to set sales goals in your company?