You've probably never heard of Joseph Ades. But the man Vanity Fair described as the 'gentleman grafter' was a salesman of supernatural ability.
Here are 8 lessons all salespeople should learn from the late, great Joe Ades.
Joe Ades was an Englishman in New York. Well into his 70s, he sold potato peelers on street corners in the Big Apple.
He was a fascinating character, and the finest salesman you've never seen.
Are you in the business of selling? Send these 8 tips to everybody you work with. It's the only sales training they'll ever need.
1) Prove the product
Joe Ades is over 70 in this clip. Yet here he is, sat on a stool, hunched over a chopping board, gloves on, in full demo mode.
They're made in Switzerland, they're not made in China. They're made of stainless steel, they cannot rust. They're dishwasher safe and, I promise you, they never need sharpening.
It's not any old demonstration either. It's a demonstration of things you'd never think of doing – carrot sunflowers anybody?
2) Be relaxed
Joe's humour is his greatest weapon. Humour relaxes, it softens our naturally suspicious natures. Replace suspicion with a smile, and you're halfway there.
My machine is so gentle, you'll peel asparagus without breaking the tip… I know this is a carrot… You only want one? You've got no friends, like me.
3) Look the part
When was the last time you saw a street vendor dressed in Savile Row suits and Jermyn Street shirts? Never.
Joe's impeccable style matched his British charm perfectly. We can't all have such dashing sophistication, but don't underestimate the power of a well-tied tie.
4) Sell the benefit
Joe's selling peelers, right? Wrong. He's selling French fries that taste great, vegetables your kids will eat, and pineapple with the tough bits removed.
If you wanna make 'em taste great, you leave the skin on the potato. You don't peel it, you wash it. Cook 'em like that with the skin on. And if you cook these yourself without trans fat, you wash 'em down with red wine, you'll never die, you'll live forever.
As Elmer Wheeler so famously said, "You don't sell the steak, you sell the sizzle."
5) Emphasise quality
Have you ever referred to the potato peeler in your kitchen as a machine? Nobody would.
They're not cheap. You don't buy them because they're cheap. You buy them because they're good.
Joe uses the word machine to make us think, 'Oh, it's a machine? Well mine is just a peeler, so this one must be better.'
6) Do a deal
Who on earth ever bought 5 potato peelers at once? Nobody. But such is the power of the pitch, people will buy a product that lasts a lifetime in bulk.
They're $5 each. You can buy 4 for $20 and, if you do, you get 1 free. When you buy 5 of these and you give 'em away as gifts, they're not gonna be offended because they only got a peeler. They're gonna be delighted to get the best peeler in the world. And they're gonna think of you every time they go in the kitchen.
7) Involve the customer
When the customer in the clip steps up to pull a peeler across a carrot, you know she's feeling pretty silly.
Pull the handle. Look at that. Go on, do it again.
But when she pulls it, the razor sharp blade cuts through hard carrot like a hot knife through butter.
The product is proven, truth is established, and money is handed over.
8) Practice and perfect
Doesn't Joe sound wonderfully off-the-cuff? That's because he uses the same words, in the same order, every time. Here's a different clip.
Understand why people need your product. Create a pitch around those needs. And practise – over and over – until it sounds natural.
The featured image is taken from Best Salesman in the World, YouTube.