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Want a new sales idea? Here's one that's 120 years old!

Sales Move

John Patterson, founder of The National Cash Register Company in 1880 and the father of American salesmanship, coined a powerful sales phrase that has been lost for a century.

Patterson`s selling philosophy was centered on the concept of referring to a prospect as a probable purchaser – thus defining the prospect and your attitude toward him or her in the SAME breath! So powerful. It`s the biggest sales aha I’ve had since I earned my first commission back in 1963. (Yeah, 1963.)

To me, a probable purchaser is as powerful a sales philosophy as I have EVER heard or read – and it`s well over 100 years old. AND NO ONE USES IT.

Probable purchaser is a classic lost element of the Patterson Principles of Selling that should not only be resurrected – but it`s something that you can employ every day as you seek sales success.

How can you harness the untapped power of the probable purchaser?

Here`s the challenge, Hoss: You’ve been referring to this “prospect” as a prospect for as long as you’ve been in sales. In your mind, you must begin the transition from thinking prospect (or worse suspect) to thinking probable purchaser.

I’m a sales expert. I believe I’m the best in the world when it comes to sales and the selling process. I love the pitch. I love it when a CEO that I’m presenting to gets up and walks around, and I get up and sit in his chair. I love it when I can convince him to say the words, “My people need to have this” or “My people need to see this.”

You know what that means? The register rings. Money. A sale!

I have studied the history of sales for 30 years. Every time I read something I learn something. I especially love reading books more than 50 years old because old ideas are usually new ideas, revised or in disguise.

When I began to study John Patterson, it changed many things about the way I thought sales should be conducted. And when I came across the words that Patterson used to define the “prospect,” I was convinced it was one of the five biggest A-HAs! of my life. Not only was it brilliant, it was obvious.

Think of the prospect as a probable purchaser. WOW!

I thought to myself, “Why doesn`t everyone do that?” Some companies call them suspects, prospects, or defects. They’re crazy. The company is already setting a negative tone in your mind for what you think will happen.

Patterson, in his brilliance, set a positive tone for every potential customer that a salesperson would encounter by referring to this person as a probable purchaser. If you ask me, nothing in the realm of selling has even come close to that brilliance.

Patterson could have used words like prospect, lead, appointment, possible, prospective and potential, but in his positive-attitude thought process, he not only assumed the sale, he put positive words, and therefore positive thoughts, into the minds of his salespeople so they would constantly reinforce their own belief system.

If you begin now to refer to your potential customer as a probable purchaser, it will change your entire mental outlook as you enter the sale, while you make the sale, and when the sale is completed.

Once you have it in your mind, you will use probable purchasers forever because that holds your key to BOTH self-belief and self-assurance.

Your self-belief is half of your sales. It`s the part that you can transfer to another person. That person catches your passion, your enthusiasm and your attitude. And all of that comes from self-belief. And self-belief comes from your inner language. Using the term probable purchaser will strengthen that self-belief and lead you to more sales. I promise.

If you think of a prospect as a prospect, you are doomed to the attitude of maybe. If you think of the prospect as a probable purchaser, you will walk into a sales call thinking – YES!

Sounds simple, doesn`t it? So simple it works.

Free Gitbit: Want the bare-bones list of the 32.5 Patterson Principles of Selling? Just go to www.gitomer.com; register if you’re a first time user, and enter the word PATTERSON in the GitBit box.

Jeffrey Gitomer, author of “The Sales Bible,” and “Customer Satisfaction is Worthless, Customer Loyalty is Priceless,” is president of Charlotte-based Buy Gitomer. He gives seminars, runs annual sales meetings and conducts training programs on selling and customer service. He can be reached at (704) 333-1112 or e-mail

salesman@gitomer.com.

About Jeffrey Gitomer

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