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The Sales Evangelist

The Sales Evangelist This is the fourth episode for the Best Seller in History series. This time around, the sales spotlight is on Benjamin Franklin. 

Despite Benjamin Franklin only having two years of formal education, his inventions are used to this day. He was a phenomenal writer when he was a teenager and was an inventor throughout his life. Franklin was a statesman, designed a musical instrument used by Mozart and Beethoven, and was an abolitionist in his later years. It’s worth noting he was also a writer, painter, political philosopher,  politician, Freemason, diplomat, and so much more, including a phenomenal seller. We will explore five reasons why.

Sales Spotlight – Benjamin Franklin

One of the founding fathers of the United States, Benjamin Franklin grew up in Boston, Massachusetts. Due to financial constraints, he wasn’t able to finish his formal education so he worked as an apprentice for his brother who was in the printing industry.  When Benjamin was 15 years old, his brother founded a newspaper called The New England Courant. His experience in his brother’s company helped in shaping his skills as a phenomenal seller. 

There are five reasons why Benjamin Franklin was so effective:  

  1. Problem-solving skills
  2. Curiosity 
  3. Ability to seek knowledge
  4. Learning from smarter people and masterminding 
  5. Ability to build a strong rapport

Ability to solve problems  

Benjamin Franklin had extraordinary skills in problem-solving and used this talent throughout his life. James Franklin, his brother, was running a newspaper but he wouldn’t allow Benjamin to write for the publication. He realized the solution was to ghostwrite through anonymous letters, under the guise of being a middle-aged widow. The anonymous letters focused on what was going on in the community so it naturally piqued the interest of the readers. 

Benjamin would slip the letters under the door of James’ newspaper each night. Each morning, James and his friends would discuss and debate the content of the letter. The letters got published and Benjamin’s alter ego became a popular contributor to the paper. His brother wasn’t happy when he found out that it was Benjamin who was writing the anonymous letters but had no choice but to continue publishing for the readers who loved the anonymous letters. 

Sometime later, James was thrown in jail after writing something that wasn’t favorable to the government. During his absence, Ben ran the newspaper without major issues. When his brother came back, Ben presented the idea of partnership. When James didn’t agree with Ben’s proposal, Ben decided to leave and went to Philadelphia.

Problem-Solving skills as a sales rep

There are times when buyers don’t even recognize they have a problem. They are so focused on the status quo and happy with their current system that it doesn’t occur to them to change things. They refuse to learn more or don’t realize there is more to learn. 

The prospect may even have problems they’re not aware of.  Others have identified their problems but they just have a band-aid solution to ease the discomfort. As a sales rep, you need to find a way to actually solve the problem. That’s what Benjamin did. Even when he asked his brother, James said No repeatedly. Ben thought outside the box and he thought of ways to address a problem regardless of the decisions made by James. Your job is to help your clients recognize the problem and present them with a solution, even if they may have objections. 

Be Curious 

Benjamin Franklin was curious and was a voracious reader, consuming books and literature.  He was always learning.

This love of learning led him to create an almanac where he included tips and advice that could be applied to everyday life. As a result, his almanac stood out from the rest of the competition. 

Benjamin’s curiosity was ever-present, even after his retirement in the publishing industry. He made many inventions and even received recognition from the King of France due to his skills as a scientist. Money wasn’t his motivation for inventing things.  It was more for satisfying curiosity and creating a better society.

Curiosity as a sales rep

Sales reps who are curious are the ones who are able to dig deeper and as a result, offer true value. Take for example a sales rep selling a SaaS software solution. It is a service that allows you to send mass messages to clients and interact with them. If the sales rep presenting the product jumps directly into the proposal and price offer, he will likely lose the deal. 

Consider another sales rep who is very curious and wants to figure out why they need the text messaging service. She wants to find out how the client can take advantage of the software. It will be easier for the second sales rep to actually make the sale because she’s gathered more information. She’s able to build more value by asking effective questions. Your curiosity will help you land deals because you’re willing to put in the extra effort.  When meeting with clients, always go deeper. It all comes down to providing value to your client. 

Keep on learning

Benjamin Franklin had an affinity for learning and that is what made him stand out from his contemporaries. He always knew a little more. When he was left in Europe with no money, he took it upon himself to learn the printing industry of England. When he came back to the US two years after, he had an arsenal of knowledge ready to use.  He was able to successfully turn his business into a success and take advantage of opportunities that allowed him to learn more about the daily operations.

As a sales rep, you can fuel your mind by reading books and listening to podcasts related to your industry. Keep on learning more about your clients. Read more newspapers and know the trends. Read up on current events and research how these trends affect your industry. Take part in training and workshops that will help you improve, not only as a sales rep but also as an individual. Provide the value as a consultant within your space. There’s nothing new under the sun but you can always learn something new from other people.  We can never know enough.

Learn from smarter people 

When Benjamin Franklin first came to Philadelphia, he was a boy who was broke, dirty, and dingy. Benjamin realized that in order for him to excel, he had to learn more. He didn’t have much but he had nice clothing. That helped him hung out with the right people, the high society. He spent so much time with these individuals, the people around him just assumed he was already successful and belonged.

This inclusion allowed him to network and make relevant connections. It was a smart strategy and he thrived. Benjamin Franklin even organized a group that would be able to benefit from one another. There were 12 members initially and all the members were from different backgrounds. What they had in common was they shared an inquisitive spirit, a desire to improve, and they wanted to help others in their community. Among them were painters, surveyors, clerks, bartenders, and more. The members were older than Benjamin Franklin but he was clearly the group’s leader. 

Make it a point to learn from smarter people and associate with them. Being in a group will help you thrive but the moment you become the smartest person in the room, you need to find a new group. The people within your group will challenge you, push you, and help you grow in your career.  In a mastermind group, there’s a lot of accountability in place because you’re there with a purpose. Be dedicated to your group and its goals.

It’s important to look the part you want to become. Come to the group looking put together and be professional.  

Ability to build rapport 

Benjamin Franklin knew the ability to build rapport helped him solidify his biggest deal and he understood it’s one of the most important facets of sales. 

The TSE Certified Sales Training Program is designed to help salespeople learn how to build value and build rapport. It helps salespeople land deals by training on what to say and asking effective questions. 

Andrew Rosebrough is the owner and president of Portable Medical Diagnostics, a mobile x-ray and ultrasound company servicing various parts of Florida. His company has taken on some of these principles Benjamin Franklin taught over the years and it has helped his company to thrive.

Some salespeople think to be a great seller, one also needs to become a great orator. Contrary to that belief, Benjamin Franklin wasn’t much of a speaker. He was more of a listener than a speaker. He felt like he didn’t know what to say all the time. An author pointed out that the best-sellers are not the extroverts or introverts, they’re the ambiverts – the ones who fall right in the middle. 

The Scenario 

In Benjamin Franklin’s time, the United States was in trouble. They were fighting the British and the situation was bad. The American soldiers were underfunded and undersupplied.  Their circumstances were dire. The French, however, were secretly assisting the U.S. armies but they weren’t fully committed to helping the soldiers just yet. Luckily, Benjamin was already famous in Europe. He was an inventor, a scientist, and the French people knew him. Benjamin Franklin also learned French and the French people appreciated that. He was charismatic and he used that to his advantage. Benjamin socialized, networked, and made sure to play their game.

Benjamin just didn’t ask for what he needed right away, he first played the long game and learned the way of the French and it softened them to his requests. His counterpart was John Adams but John was the typical American and the French didn’t like him. He made no effort to level with the French. 

Understand your clients

As a salesperson, you need to understand your clients and what they like to do.  Try to be part of that. Discover what makes them tick. Spend time with them and get to know them on a personal level. 

This can be difficult because you may have other things you like to do more. This is, however, an investment to land that big deal. John Adams didn’t take the time to understand the French and because he was forcing business, he was kicked back to the U.S. 

Employ the platinum rule like Benjamin Franklin did. The platinum rule says, treat others the way they would like to be treated. 

Best Sellers In History Series 4 – “Benjamin Franklin” episode resources

Benjamin Franklin was an amazing seller. Here are the five reasons why: 

  • Problem-solving skills
  • Curiosity 
  • Ability to seek knowledge
  • Learning from smarter people and masterminding 
  • Ability to build a strong rapport

Connect with Andrew Rosebrough via his LinkedIn account or visit their website.  

If you have more sales concerns, you can also talk to Donald about it via LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook for any sales concerns. 

This episode is brought to you in part by TSE Certified Sales Training Program. It’s a course designed to help new and struggling sellers to master the fundamentals of sales and close more deals. Sign up now and get the first two modules for free! You can also call us at (561) 570-5077.  

It’s also brought to you by B2B Sales Show with a different podcast format. It has a rotating co-host and they brought in multiple sales though leaders and half a dozen other co-hosts that are either interviewing the guests or sharing quick hit tactical content themselves from their own lessons throughout their sales career. They have multiple episodes a week. 

We have a new semester beginning in January and we would love to have you and your team join us. Follow this link to apply to the program. 

We have a new semester beginning in January and we would love to have you and your team join us. Follow this link to apply to the program. 

We’d love for you to join us for our next episodes so tune in on Apple Podcast, Google Podcast, Stitcher, and Spotify. You can also leave comments, suggestions, and ratings to every episode you listen to. 

You can also read more about sales or listen to audiobooks on Audible and explore this huge online library. Register now to get a free book and a 30-day free trial. 

Audio provided by Free SFX and Bensound. Other songs used in the episodes are as follows: The Organ Grinder written by Bradley Jay Hill, performed by Bright Seed, and Produced by Brightseed and Hill. 

About the Author The Sales Evangelist

Donald is the host of the popular sales podcast,"The Sales Evangelist". He is the founder of The Sales Evangelist Consulting Firm where he helps small companies develop killer sales process to scale their business and increase growth.

Donald is also an award-winning speaker, sales trainer, and coach. He's a big fan of traveling, South Florida staycations and high-quality family time. Donald has a belief that “anyone” can sell if they have the desire and receives the proper training.

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