Your Letter of Credit
By Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown, March 5, 2018
“Every man has a letter of credit written on his face.
We are our own best advertisements,
and if we appear to (be) disadvantage(d) in any particular (way)
we are rated accordingly.”
From “Selling Things” by Orison Swett Marden written in 1910
WARNING; some who read this may find it offensive. Keep in mind, if the shoe fits, wear it or change shoes!
If you read the book, and I sincerely hope you do, you will discover as I did that within the 29 short chapters lies the very description of an effective salesperson. But I am not in sales you say. Really? Do you honestly believe that? Have you never tried to convince someone of something you believe in or tried to get someone like a employer, manager, fellow-employee, spouse or child to buy into an idea or to buy a product or service? Or have you applied for a job? EVERYONE is in sales! PERIOD!
Read the above quote from the book again. EVERY man and woman (I updated it), EVERY man has a LETTER OF CREDIT, written on his or her FACE!
I remember another quote that I also believe very much in, “What you think of me is none of my business.” This is the title of a very good book by Terry Cole-Whittaker: https://tinyurl.com/y7hry42t
These two quotes appear to be in contrast with each other and they are. Everyone should have and maintain their core values and principal beliefs. When it comes to these two characteristics there should be no compromise – none! But the first quote is not talking about your core values or principals, Marden is talking about being a successful salesperson and in that he agrees, NEVER compromise your beliefs.
Being successful in sales is NOT about your core values or your beliefs, it is about convincing another person to buy what you are selling whether it is a product or service, a vacation desire or an idea for a better way of doing business. You are pitching a sale of something you would like to see happen and are hoping that another person agrees to buy it from you.
What Marden writes about in his book and more specifically refers to in the above quote is all about YOU and why you should care about YOU. I learned a valuable lesson from my late mother when she took me as a youngster back in the 1950s into a men’s clothing store. A young, good looking guy maybe in his twenties approached us and ask if he could help us (actually her, I was way too young to be buying anything in that store). She immediately said no but continued to look around the store without his help or assistance. A few minutes later another young man approached us and asked if HE could help and she said yes, she was looking for a gift for my Dad. When we left the store, I asked her why she accepted the help of the second salesperson and not the first. She said the first young man had a beard and she did not trust anyone wearing a beard.
Scoff at that if you wish but consider the fact that both of these young men probably were working on commission sales meaning they did not make a dime if they did not sell something. When you consider that possibility, are you so ready to scoff at what I wrote about? Was my mother correct in her thinking that she didn’t feel she could trust someone with a beard? Absolutely not but that is what she believed. How she came to believe that I do not know nor did I ask. Here is the most important lesson of this story. She was my mother and my mother would never lie to me. So at the age of 10, what did I now believe? DON’T TRUST ANYONE WITH A BEARD! I didn’t need a reason, my mother had said it.
Another story from my past and fortunately or unfortunately it also involved my mother. Whenever someone would approach our front door that she did not recognize, she would tell us to be quiet, “it’s a salesman!” Again it came from my mother so there must be good reason not to answer the door when a salesman knocked. 60 plus years later, there is something deep inside of me that suggests I should not trust anyone knocking at my door that I do not know.
I entered the real estate business in 1980 and became a real estate broker in 1982. I attended many sales classes and taught them myself that suggested people new to the business should “knock on doors.” This means that if they want to develop a customer base they needed to meet people and one way to accomplish that was to “knock on doors.” But wait, my mother had told me not to trust strangers who just knocked on our door. Can you understand why knocking on doors was so difficult for me to do? Can you understand how prejudice in all forms are initially created and then passed along?
If you haven’t already begun to understand what I am attempting to convey let me explain it in a very brief statement.
It does not matter what YOU think!
Right or wrong, tt’s all about what a probable CUSTOMER thinks!
It IS true, it’s what the CUTOMER thinks!
We as sales people, and we all are in sales of one type or another, truly do wear our own personal “letters of credit” on our bodies as we talk to people who we want to buy from us. From head to toe we are, at least on the outside, who we appear to be. Short, tall, thin, overweight, bearded, clean shaven, long hair, short hair, well dressed, not well dressed, moderate jewelry, overdone jewelry, tattoos, no tattoos, shined shoes, no shined shoes (more of an expression in the 1900s when “blackened” shoes was the acceptable look), and a pleasant or unpleasant smell – DIFFERENCES!
Do you think the bearded salesman would have chosen to wear his beard if he knew for certain that it would have cost him a commission on the sale my mother made that day? Maybe so; maybe not. Here’s a better question. If the salesman was married, do you think his spouse would be concerned that he failed to make a sale because he preferred to wear a beard?
Before beard wearing readers get so angry with me, the beard is only a symbol or metaphor what I am attempting to put importance on – THINGS MATTER. In the case of the bearded salesperson – what was more important, making money or wearing the beard? What IS more important, making money or having tattoos on your arms, neck and even your face? What IS more important, making money or having body piercings? What IS more important, making money or wearing what YOU think is appropriate rather than what a CUSTOMER might expect?
Let me be clear. None of these things unto themselves are necessarily bad. They become bad IF the CUSTOMER has some form of prejudice against them or they fail to meet the CUSTOMER’S expectations. Keep in mind if YOU do not outwardly meet the CUSTOMER’S expectations, there are others in sales that will
To put this into perspective, assume that you make a sale and you will receive a check for $1000.00. Being a younger person, you see nothing wrong with having body piercings but the customer is anything but young, in fact the customer is elderly. The elderly person may accept body piercings but in my elderly world, probably not. Therefore you can think and believe that what someone else thinks of you is none of your business but it IS your business if it prevents you from making the sale.
You may think that in your world having tattoos or having body piercings are acceptable and they probably are. But are you prepared to do business, makes sales, ONLY in your immediate world or environment? If so, fine but for most people they need to expand their world to be more inclusive when it comes to attracting more customers.
Be aware that there is an age difference and that difference equates to potential income, or not. If you choose to ignore what older people believe to be acceptable, you choose to limit your sales and ultimately your income.
FOR OLDER READERS, THE EXACT OPPOSITE IS ALSO TRUE. If YOU are trying to sell someone your product, services or idea, are you limiting your customer base by imposing your expectations on probable customers? My guess is that you are.
What does all this mean? It means exactly what Marden wrote in the above quote – you ARE wearing your “Letter of Credit” on your face (body, wardrobe, language, words, and/or attitude or even the car you drive or the cleanliness of your car). The probable or potential customer can see it all, as can the world. Exactly what image do you want the customer and the world to see? More importantly, it may be fitting in the world you live but will it be acceptable in the world you may live in tomorrow? This may be the MOST important question of all that only you can answer: WHAT IMAGINE DO YOU WANT A POTENTIAL FUTURE IMPLOYER TO SEE? If you were the employer would you hire the person YOU see at the initial interview or would you find it difficult if not impossible to see beyond what you outwardly see and never give the job applicant to prove him or herself to you in spite of how they at first appear. Remember, it is the objective of the employer to hire people that represent the “look” of the company they want the public to see. IT MATTERS!
Remember, “Never judge a book by its cover!”
Also remember, it is almost impossible NOT to judge a book or a person but its cover.
How do you want people to see you?