How I Raised Myself from Failure to Success in Selling: Book Summary

How I Raised Myself from Failure to Success in Selling: Book Summary

How I Raised Myself from Failure to Success in Selling is a classic sales book from a bygone era (1947). Written by Frank Bettger, this old sales book talks about the human side of sales. It is similar to most other books of that age. It was a time when people made and sustained relationships personally, and the phone was a way of doing so distantly. These days, many new sales books help in promoting relationship-based sales. The fact is that people are tired of automated sales, and that is making businesses tap the potential of interpersonal relationships. It is way better than the approach of treating customers as mere numbers. 

How I Raised Myself From Failure to Success in Selling may be 70 years old, but it has some great advice relevant to the current age. You can get anecdotes and stepwise guidelines on building the style and spirit of a successful salesperson. The book is from the perspective of the author, who failed before making changes to his situation. It is excellent to get insightful and practical tips from a salesman who succeeded despite lacking experience and pulled it through The Great Depression. It is worth reading all the life-changing insights Frank Bettger has to share. 

About the author

Frank Gettger was a major league baseball player turned salesman and self-help author. He has written the best sellers How I Multiplied My Income and Happiness in Selling. He was born in 1888 and lived to the age of 91. While he was a failed insurance salesman at 29, by the age of 40, he became one of the most successful salespersons in America. 

Gettger gave credit for his success to another well-known writer, Dale Carnegie. In Dale’s words, the book How I Multiplied My Income and Happiness in Selling is – 

“The most helpful and inspiring book on salesmanship that I have ever read”.

An overview

‘How I Raised Myself from Failure to Success in Selling’ has 6 different parts that seem to be easy to read.

Part one

Part one has the author, Frank Bettger’s one story and how his life changed. The backstory tells the reader about Frank and where he came from, giving readers the confidence to achieve the same kind of success. The author says that you have to force yourself to be enthusiastic till you become one. It is all about resolving to put twice the enthusiasm you are currently putting into your work and life. It would help double your income and happiness. 

To overcome your fear and boost your self-confidence, better join a good public speaking course where you get to talk. Losing your fear of speaking to an audience will help you lose the fear of speaking to individuals regardless of how big or important they are.

Getting things done offers one of the greatest satisfactions in life, especially when you have done your best. If you have difficulty organizing your work and want to do things based on the order of importance, you should set aside one day as a self-organization day. It will help you make a proper plan. 

Part two

The second part of the book is Frank’s formula for success based on practical experience, loss and wins. 

Develop the art of asking questions. Asking questions instead of positive statements can help you make sales and make people agree to your thoughts. It is crucial that you inquire and not attack the customer while asking questions. 

You have to find the key issue and the most vulnerable point and stick to it. 

The author shares how he began improving his art of selling by asking the golden word – “why?”

To find out the hidden objection and the real reason, you can ask ‘why’ and ‘in addition to that?’ This will help you get your answers and help you overcome objections. 

Being a good listener also works like magic. It makes the other person feel important. People are hungry for attention and appreciation but don’t get it quite often. Providing that to clients is a formula for success. 

Part three

In the third part of ‘How I Raised Myself from Failure to Success in Selling’, the author covers the biggest blessing for a salesperson – the confidence people have in you. You can win when people start trusting you. 

To be confident and win the confidence of others, you have to know your business and stay updated with all the latest happenings. Here the author cites Benjamin Franklin and says that you should praise your competitors for winning the customer’s confidence. 

Develop the habit of making understatements and stop exaggerating. Another way of winning the confidence of potential customers is by bringing on your witness.

Part four

The book’s fourth section aims at how you can make people want to do business with you. The author provides easy-to-follow tips for the same such as using people’s names, remembering their names, and putting aside the fear of reaching out to senior people in companies. Admitting that you are scared by the client’s presence is like paying them a huge compliment. Having an idea that the client will find useful will help you make a sale. 

Part Five

The fifth portion of the book takes a closer look at the Sales Process. It includes what you should do before making a sale, making appointments, speaking to the gig and important clients, and what you should do during the meeting or call. The author also talks about closing techniques.

Part Six

The sixth part of the book is the final part that stresses the importance of not being afraid to fail if you fail. The author refers to Benjamin Franklin, but it doesn’t seem relevant to the present generation and those not from the US. 

Note-worthy ideas

Now that you know what the book, ‘How I Raised Myself from Failure to Success in Selling’ is about and have a gist of its contents let’s take a closer -look at the big ideas in the book.

1. You will be what you feel. Fake the enthusiasm till actual energy gets into you and inspires you.

The reason why salespeople manage to stay positive despite hearing “NO” most of the time?

For every successful sale, they get 10 rejections. The secret behind it is enthusiasm. By practicing a few techniques, anyone can become enthusiastic. 

In the book, Bettger says that he wasn’t a good baseball player as he didn’t show his enthusiasm on the field.

He further describes his problem,

Bettger was scared of failing, and that fear stopped him from doing his best. In an attempt to hide his fear, he started playing safe and seemed unenthusiastic. The author took a heavy pay cut as he was not enthusiastic about playing for a lesser league. However, to compensate for that, he tried to force getting enthusiastic. 

He started to pretend to be enthusiastic about the game and started overcoming his fear of failure, improving his performance on the game. He then negotiated a higher pay. You can use this example in the sales world because enthusiasm is essential there.

After Bettger retired from basketball, he sold insurance. He then came to know that here, too, his enthusiasm held him back the way it did in baseball. So, he started acting enthusiastic and was more optimistic. It helped him sell the first product. Therefore, it means that getting energetic and positive will help you accomplish tasks. 

2. Listen carefully to the concerns of the clients and take the focus away from you.

When your product is a comb, would you sell it to a bald person? The most common answer would be a NO, and that would be irrespective of the quality of the comb you sell. It can even be the best comb in the world. The message here is that people won’t buy what they don’t require. 

So, to find out the needs of clients, you have to ask them a few questions. You can start by asking them about their profession. 

You can learn about the needs of the clients by knowing what motivates them. By asking questions, you can understand the needs of the client and build a relationship with them. 

The author recalls a client who got so carried away by his attention that he purchased a policy without hesitating. When you listen to another person, he feels important and helps you learn about their needs. If you focus on clients’ needs instead of your sales pitch, they will be more responsive. For example, the author says that a magazine salesman found selling magazines difficult as he confused his needs with the ones of his customers. He realized his mistake and altered his sales pitch. He stressed that his clients were busy men who didn’t have the time to waste on information that is not relevant, so they needed his magazine. As a result, his sales increased overnight.

3. A “No” is not set in stone always. You can find the real reason for the client’s objection

After knowing how to ask questions to customers and be enthusiastic, you should learn how to overcome rejection. It is not always so easy because people usually don’t reveal the real reasons for saying no.

The author reveals that when his clients were not ready to tell him the real reason for turning the offer down, he did some investigation to understand what was happening. At last, he realized that his client had cold feet and said that his company was in debt and could not afford a new insurance product. However, the author understood that there was something else apart from the money factor. He asked the client about it, to which he got to know that there was a concern about the security of the client’s sons. Once he understood that, the author edited the insurance policy to address the client’s issues and closed the deal. 

One more way of overcoming objections is by showing the client that their concerns may not have any truth in them. A client told the author that they don’t need insurance as they are so rich that they can get themselves out of trouble with ease. The author told the person that his logic was wrong and explained to the client that his family would need to pay inheritance taxes if he died. As soon as the client realized this, he purchased the insurance policy. 

4. Stay informed about your industry to build trust. Be trustworthy so that the trust stays alive. 

After you start succeeding in sales, you have to begin earning clients’ trust and make them come back to you. The key is to know your field well. 

If you want your clients to trust you, you must put in your best efforts to stay informed about your product, market, and industry. The author worked with 16 other salespeople to learn this lesson during the beginning of his career. Out of those salesmen, only two did 70 percent of the company’s business. Other salesmen consulted the two salesmen as they were better informed than the rest. They read industry magazines and newsletters to keep themselves updated with the news. It enabled them to build strong relationships with their clients that resulted in lots of sales. It means you have to be trustworthy yourself if you want to win the trust of your clients. 

The author says that he discovered this the hard way when he tried exaggerating premiums for insurance policies to close deals. A client once checked the numbers and found out that they were incorrect. The client’s company then chose someone else’s solution, and the author lost the opportunity. Not only that, but it also made the client lose trust in the author. 

5. Aim at making your clients feel important. Remember their names and what they are interested in.

Imagine that you are dealing with two different types of salespeople. One of them seems to be friendly and asks about the welfare of your family while the other one doesn’t even remember your name. If both the salesmen sell the same product, from whom will you purchase? The answer would be the salesperson who made you feel significant. 

The first thumb rule is that you should make an effort to remember the name of your clients. It may look tough initially, but by using impression and repetition, it will become easier. What works well for remembering names will work well in business transactions too.

Repetition is vital to learn a name. It helps build a person’s picture in the mind that makes it easier to remember the person’s name.

Saying a person’s name when you meet them will show that you are interested in them and are paying attention to them. After you meet a person, repeat their name within 10 seconds to get it into your memory. 

Following the above tips can help clients feel significant, and they would be willing to do business with you.

Making a sale may seem easy, but the work is not over after you complete the deal. When you stay in touch with customers after the sale and make sure they are satisfied with your product, they are likely to buy from you in the future as well. 

The author cites an example here, 

A refrigerator salesman always called up his customers after he sold them a new refrigerator. It was so because he wanted the customers to be happy with the purchase and tell other people about it. With the referrals of his clients, the salesman got more sales. 

The bottom line is that if you take care of your customers, they will take care of you. 

6. Make the sale before the sale to get control. And be honest when you are afraid. 

There is a discussion about the need to make a sale before the sale. You achieve that by setting up appointments. Before selling, it can be easier to schedule an appointment with the client first. Doing so will help you gain control of the situation and earn the client’s trust. 

When you set up an appointment with the client, it shows that you value the client’s time and at the same time give importance to your time as well. 

Securing a meeting is not enough because even after securing your time, you have to keep your approach friendly and ask relevant questions to clients that make them feel comfortable about what they need. 

At times your nervousness can show, and it is better to admit it. The author shared his own experience when he was trying to sell a product to an automobile executive. Out of nervousness, he couldn’t even speak. He admitted it and said to the client that he is so nervous that he can’t even talk. The author’s honesty worked in his favor and got him a sale. 

Key learnings of How I Raised Myself From Failure to Success in Selling

Secrets to success in sales, 

a. Be enthusiastic – Even if you don’t have enthusiasm, you have to act as though you have. It will help you succeed.

b. Indulge in Self-organization – Give priority to what is most important.

c. Think about the interest of other people

d. Ask questions

e. Find the basic need or interest of the prospect.

f. Listen more

g. Be sincere and gain confidence.

h. Keep updating your business knowledge.

i. Appreciate and praise competitors

j. Try to remember names and faces.

The thumb rule to talk less and listen more

One main reason why salespeople lose business is that they speak too much. For this, Bettger has a thumb rule – When you realize that you have been talking for too long, stop. You would know that you have been talking unnecessarily when the other person does not insist that you finish. You should focus more on the client than telling your own story if you want to succeed at selling. 

The question method 

The author’s question method helps you gain six things,

1. It helps avoid arguments

2. It stops you from talking too much

3. It makes the other person understand his needs

4. It helps in making the other person’s thinking clear

5. It helps in finding the main issue 

6. Make the other person feel significant

Building confidence 

The book focuses on the 6 ways to build the confidence of others

1. Deserve confidence

2. Know about your business and stay updated

3. Praise your competitors 

4. Bring witnesses

5. Look your level best

6. Don’t exaggerate 

Conclusion 

Who should read this book?

How I Raised Myself from Failure to Success in Selling is suitable for anyone who sells. You can be someone selling houses or a person dealing in mutual funds. Every salesperson should use this book as a practical guide and master it. No matter what products or services you are offering, the ideas of this book will be helpful for you. 

Final Thoughts

In business, you have to learn how to overcome setbacks and psychological fears. It is essential to stay well-organized to do so.

While this book is helpful for salespeople, you can benefit from it even if you are not in sales. Know that no matter what you do as a profession, you will always sell something to people, and it can be in the form of an idea, a point of view, or an argument. 

The book is more like the life story of Frank Bettger, complete with his struggle and failure. How he turned his career and life around and became the top salesman is worth finding out. It gives hope to those who don’t have luck in their favor initially.  

Despite being from a person living in a bygone era, the principles and guidelines seem relevant to this age. The only things that look dated are the use of gender-specific pronouns and the figures in dollars that are too small compared to those of today. How I Raised Myself From Failure To Success In Selling, by Frank Bettger, is definitely for those who want to boost their sales and improve their selling techniques. 


SalesBlink Trial