Selling Power Magazine Article

The Idea Sales Man
Gerhard Gschwandtner
Executive Summary: Martin Edelston, the founder of Boardroom Reports, has a surefire way to make your company more productive with the sheer driving power of a multitude of ideas. Here is the tested I-Power system to help you reach sales success.

Martin Edelston started his selling career in college. He told Personal Selling Power about his first sales job: "During my college years, I worked behind the counter for a wholesale greeting card company. Sales reps would come in and buy boxes of these cards and sell them at retail.

"One day a woman came in and gave me an order for two boxes of cards. So I went and got them for her. I also showed her a new line that had just come in. She liked it and added it to the order. Then I showed her a number of other cards and she kept adding to the order. I can still picture the huge pile of boxes.

"Then she got out her pocketbook to pay for the cards. She counted her money, but did not have enough for the entire order. She decided to leave the two boxes that she came in for and walked out with everything else I had sold her."

After he finished college, Edelston embarked on a career in advertising sales. He sold pencils, billboards and Yellow Page advertising. About those days in selling he comments, "I broke all records selling Yellow Page ads. They had a staff of 36 people and my sales increases were higher than the combined increases of half the sales staff."

Attracted by the lure of publishing, Edelston moved on to selling advertising space for such magazines as House Beautiful, Cosmopolitan (before Helen Gurley Brown), Interiors and Commentary.

He remembers the scene in the sales office at House Beautiful: "The typical space rep went out to lunch at 11:30, came back at 3 p.m. and put a few client names on the expense report. I didn't fit in because the only way I knew how to sell was to be out there hustling and producing sales. I was the top producer and the other sales reps got so jealous that management moved me into an impossible job at Cosmopolitan.

"In the advertising sales business, people would come up with a hundred reasons for not buying. I figured that if I could develop better responses to customer objections, I could make more sales. One day I decided to write down the reasons people did not buy from me. Each day I would write down what I thought was the best logical answer to these objections. Over time, I had pages and pages filled with answers to price objections, to stalling tactics or to other excuses for not buying. I field tested these answers and edited them in my notebook.

"I think that there is a distinct connection between the hand and the brain. By writing these responses over and over, I came up with the best possible answers. Over time I discovered that people don't have a hundred reasons for not buying, but only a few essential ones that they express in a hundred different ways. As I refined and retested my answers to objections, I got better at recognizing the patterns of resistance. Soon, no matter what they said, I had an answer to it. There was nothing that could stop me and I just sold, and sold, and sold and sold."

From Salesman To Chairman

At the age of 45, Edelston reasoned that most business publications gave the reader little practical advice on how to run their businesses. He comments, "I thought that the major business publications like Business Week, Fortune, Forbes and The Wall Street Journal did not deliver very useful information.

"I love business books because they tell me how to sell, how to hire and fire or how to create a marketing plan. For example, I've read Frank Bettger's book How I Raised Myself from Failure to Success in Selling at least 10 times.

"I have given away hundreds of copies of that book. It can have a major impact on a salesperson's productivity. You can get more useful information from a single business book than from reading a year's worth of Business Week. I was convinced that businesspeople would like to read more useful information and that's why we created Boardroom Reports in 1972."

Edelston hired one of the best direct-mail copywriters and lined up a number of highly visible business leaders to contribute editorial ideas to his new venture. The first issue featured a business forecast, interviews with leading business experts, sound management advice, tax-saving tips and new marketing ideas.

The new products section of the first issue of Boardroom Reports (April 19, 1972) spotlighted a $1,000 computer printer "that clicks away at 30 characters a second - twice the rate of an IBM Selectric typewriter" and a handheld calculator called "The Royal Digital III" selling for only $140.

The practical information in Boardroom Reports was well received, but readers immediately complained about (continued on page 2)
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