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Secrets from a Top Sales Exec

by Barbara Florio Graham


Marketing your business, product or yourself is like any other type of sales. John Saltus, retired sales manager for such companies as G.E., Wells Fargo, and Bank of America, reveals proven techniques used by top sales people.

  • 1. Pay attention
    Successful salespeople listen carefully to potential customers. What do they want and why?
  • 2. Follow the trends
    What's rising in popularity? Who are current ad campaigns targeting? Check TV and magazines, not only those that interest you, but those your target market is involved with. Key your pitch accordingly.
  • 3. Put your best foot forward
    Saltus compares your initial message to the well-dressed, smiling salesman on the floor. The most polished approach is by postal mail or in person, with professional materials. Most potential customers don't open e-mail from strangers, and don't appreciate phone calls that interrupt their busy days.
  • 4. Use the proven five-part sales formula in your approach

    Grab attention with a catchy lead in your opening statement (whether in person or in print). It's shocking how many people with something to sell never prepare and rehearse "the elevator speech." What sets your product/service apart from others? Create a desire (how will this benefit me?) and close with a request for further contact. Be sure to obtain an e-mail address, and make sure the contact has yours, so you won't end up in their spam folder.
  • 5. Follow up
    Mark your calendar to send an e-mail. It still isn't wise to phone, but you could call ahead of time to let the receptionist know an e-mail is coming. You need to close the sale, and not give up until you receive a definite answer.

    Saltus told me about several incidents when he returned after being turned down the first time, and made a sale on his second try. Don't forget to return to potential customers that may have rejected you initially.
  • 6. Saltus suggests
    If you're planning a large campaign, you should take a small spiral notebook and divide it into five sections: Attention, Interest, Conviction, Desire, and Close.

    Then think of all the words that could be used to describe your idea. Which words will grab attention? Which will generate interest? Which will lead the reader to conviction and then desire? Which words define your ending?

    Use this notebook to brainstorm and then read through each section carefully to outline your project. This technique worked for him, and it can work for you.

    Barbara Florio Graham is an author, publishing consultant and publicity expert. Read descriptions of her books and services at