How I Raised Myself From Failure to Success in Selling
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How I Raised Myself From Failure to Success in Selling

Frank Bettger

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How I Raised Myself From Failure to Success in Selling

Frank Bettger

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About This Book

A business classic endorsed by Dale Carnegie, How I Raised Myself from Failure to Success in Selling is for anyone whose job it is to sell. Whether you are selling houses or mutual funds, advertisements or ideas—or anything else—this book is for you. When Frank Bettger was twenty-nine he was a failed insurance salesman. By the time he was forty he owned a country estate and could have retired. What are the selling secrets that turned Bettger's life around from defeat to unparalleled success and fame as one of the highest paid salesmen in America?The answer is inside How I Raised Myself from Failure to Success in Selling. Bettger reveals his personal experiences and explains the foolproof principles that he developed and perfected. He shares instructive anecdotes and step-by-step guidelines on how to develop the style, spirit, and presence of a winning salesperson. No matter what you sell, you will be more efficient and profitable—and more valuable to your company—when you apply Bettger's keen insights on: • The power of enthusiasm
• How to conquer fear
• The key word for turning a skeptical client into an enthusiastic buyer
• The quickest way to win confidence
• Seven golden rules for closing a sale

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Part 1
These Ideas Lifted Me Out of the Ranks of Failure

How One Idea Multiplied My Income and Happiness

Shortly after I started out as a professional baseball player, I got one of the biggest shocks of my life. That was back in 1907. I was playing for Johnstown, Pennsylvania, in the TriState League. I was young and ambitious—wanted to get to the top—and what happened? I was fired! My whole life might have been different if I hadn’t gone to the manager and asked him why he fired me. In fact, I wouldn’t have the rare privilege of writing this book if I hadn’t asked him that question.
The manager said he fired me because I was lazy! Well, that was the last thing I expected him to say.
“You drag yourself around the field like a veteran who has been playing ball for twenty years,” he told me. “Why do you act that way if you’re not lazy?” “Well, Bert,” I said, “I’m so nervous, so scared, that I want to hide my fear from the crowd, and especially from the other players on the team. Besides, I hope that by taking it easy, I’ll get rid of my nervousness.”
“Frank,” he said, “it will never work. That’s the thing that is holding you down. Whatever you do after you leave here, for heaven’s sake, wake yourself up, and put some life and enthusiasm into your work!”
I had been making $175 a month at Johnstown. After being fired there, I went down to Chester, Pennsylvania, in the Atlantic League, where they paid me only $25 a month. Well, I couldn’t feel very enthusiastic on that kind of money, but I began to act enthusiastic. After I was there three days, an old ballplayer, Danny Meehan, came to me and said: “Frank, what in the world are you doing down here in a rank bush league like this?”
“Well, Danny,” I replied, “if I knew how to get a better job, I’d go anywhere.”
A week later, Danny induced New Haven, Connecticut, to give me a trial. My first day in New Haven will always stand out in my memory as a great event in my life. No one knew me in that league, so I made a resolution that nobody would ever accuse me of being lazy. I made up my mind to establish the reputation of being the most enthusiastic ball player they’d ever seen in the New England League. I thought if I could establish such a reputation, then I’d have to live up to it.
From the minute I appeared on the field, I acted like a man electrified. I acted as though I were alive with a million batteries. I threw the ball around the diamond so fast and so hard that it almost knocked our infielders’ hands apart. Once, apparently trapped, I slid into third base with so much energy and force that the third baseman fumbled the ball and I was able to score an important run. Yes, it was all a show, an act I was putting on. The thermometer that day was nearly 100°. I wouldn’t have been surprised if I had dropped over with a sunstroke, the way I ran around the field.
Did it work? It worked like magic. Three things happened:
  1. My enthusiasm almost entirely overcame my fear. In fact, my nervousness began to work for me, and I played far better than I ever thought I was capable of playing. (If you are nervous, be thankful. Don’t hold it back. Turn it on. Let your nerves work for you.)
  2. My enthusiasm affected the other players on the team, and they too became enthusiastic.
  3. Instead of dropping with the heat, I felt better during the game and after it was over than I had ever felt before.
My biggest thrill came the following morning when I read in the New Haven newspaper: “This new player, Bettger, has a barrel of enthusiasm. He inspired our boys. They not only won the game, but looked better than at any time this season.”
The newspapers began calling me “Pep” Bettger—the life of the team. I mailed the newspaper clippings to Bert Conn, manager of Johnstown. Can you imagine the expression on his face as he read about “Pep” Bettger, the dub he’d “tied a can to” three weeks before—for being lazy?
Within ten days, enthusiasm took me from $25 a month to $185 a month—it increased my income by 700 percent. Let me repeat—nothing but the determination to act enthusiastic increased my income 700 percent in ten days! I got this stupendous increase in salary, but not because I could throw a ball better—or catch or hit better, not because I had any more ability as a ball player. I didn’t know any more about baseball than I did before.
Two years later—two years from the time I had been hoping to get $25 a month in that little Chester outfit, I was playing third base for the St. Louis Cardinals and had multiplied my income thirty times over. What did it? Enthusiasm alone did it; nothing but enthusiasm.
Two years after that, while playing a game in Chicago against the Chicago Cubs, I had a bad accident. Picking up a swinging bunt while on a full run, I attempted to throw in the opposite direction. Something snapped in my arm. That accident forced me to give up baseball. This seemed like a great tragedy to me at the time, but I now look back on it as one of the most fortunate events of my life.
I returned home, and for the next two years made my living riding around the streets of Philadelphia on a bicycle. I was a collector for an installment furniture concern; one dollar down and the balance in “uneasy” weekly payments. After two dismal years of collecting installments, I decided to try selling insurance with the Fidelity Mutual Life Insurance Company.
The next ten months were the longest and most disheartening months of my life.
A dismal failure at selling life insurance, I finally concluded that I was never cut out to be a salesman, and began answering want ads for a job as a shipping clerk. I realized, however, that no matter what work I tried to do, I had to overcome a strange fear complex that possessed me, so I joined one of Dale Carnegie’s courses in public speaking. One night, Mr. Carnegie stopped me in the middle of a talk.
“Mr. Bettger,” he said. “Just a moment… just a moment. Are you interested in what you are saying?”
“Yes … Of course I am,” I replied.
“Well, then,” said Mr. Carnegie, “why don’t you talk with a little enthusiasm? How do you expect your audience to be interested if you don’t put some life and animation into what you say?”
Dale Carnegie than gave our class a stirring talk on the power of enthusiasm. He got so excited during his talk, he threw a chair up against the wall and broke off one of its legs.
Before I went to bed that night, I sat for an hour, thinking. My thoughts went back to my baseball days at Johnstown and New Haven. For the first time, I realized that the very fault which had threatened to wreck my career in baseball was now threatening to wreck my career as a salesman.
The decision I made that night was the turning point of my life. That decision was to stay in the insurance business and put the same enthusiasm into selling that I had put into playing baseball when I joined the New Haven team.
I shall never forget the first call I made the next day. It was my first “crashing through” session. I made up my mind that I was going to show my prospect the most enthusiastic salesman he’d ever seen in his life. As I pounded my fist with excitement, I expected every minute to have the man stop me and ask if there was anything wrong with me, but he didn’t.
At one stage of the interview, I noticed he raised himself to a more erect position and opened his eyes wider, but he never stopped me, except to ask questions. Did he throw me out? No, he bought! This man, Al Emmons, a grain merchant in the Bourse Building, Philadelphia, soon became one of my good friends and best boosters. From that day on, I began to sell. The “Magic of Enthusiasm” began to work for me in business, just as it had in baseball.
I would not want to give anybody the impression that I think enthusiasm consists of fist-pounding … but if fist-pounding is what you need to arouse yourself inside, then I am overwhelmingly for it. I know this: When I force myself to act enthusiastic, I soon feel enthusiastic.
During my thirty-two years of selling, I have seen enthusiasm double and triple the income of dozens of salesmen, and I have seen the lack of it cause hundreds of salesmen to fail.
I firmly believe enthusiasm is, by far, the biggest single factor in successful selling. For example, I know a man who is an authority on insurance—he could even write a book on the subject—and yet, he can’t make a decent living selling it. Why? Largely because of his lack of enthusiasm.
I know another salesman who didn’t know one-tenth as much about insurance, yet he made a fortune selling it, and retired in twenty years. His name is Stanley Gettis. He now lives in Miami Beach, Florida. The reason for his outstanding success was not knowledge—it was enthusiasm.
Can you acquire enthusiasm—or must you be born with it? Certainly, you can acquire it! Stanley Gettis acquired it. He became a human dynamo. How? Just by forcing himself each day to act enthusiastic. As a part of his plan, Stanley Gettis repeated a poem almost every morning for twenty years. He found that repeating it helped him generate enthusiasm for the day. I found this poem so inspiring that I had it printed on a card and gave away hundreds of them. It was written by Herbert Kauffman and has a good title …
You are the man who used to boast
That you…d achieve the uttermost,
Some day.
You merely wished a show,
To demonstrate how much you know
And prove the distance you can go….
Another year we’ve just passed through.
What new ideas came to you?
How many big things did you do?
Time … left twelve fresh months in your care
How many of them did you share
With opportunity and dare
Again where you so often missed?
We do not find you on the list of Makers Good.
Explain the fact!
Ah no, ’twas not the chance you lacked!
As usual—you failed to act!
Why don’t you memorize this poem, and repeat it daily. It may do for you what it did for Stanley Gettis.
Once I read a statement made by Walter P. Chrysler. I was so impressed by it, I carried it in my pocket for a week. I’ll bet I read it over forty times, until I knew it by heart. I wish every salesman would memorize it. Walter Chrysler, when asked to give the secret of success, listed the various qualities, such as ability, capacity, energy, but added that the real secret was enthusiasm. “Yes, more than enthusiasm,” said Chrysler, “I would say excitement. I like to see men get excited. When they get excited, they get customers excited, and we get business.”
Enthusiasm is by far the highest paid quality on earth, probably because it is one of the rarest; yet, it is one of the most contagious. If you are enthusiastic, your listener is very likely to become enthusiastic, even though you may present your ideas poorly. Without enthusiasm, your sales talk is about as dead as last year’s turkey.
Enthusiasm isn’t merely an outward expression. Once you begin to acquire it, enthusiasm works constantly within you. You may be sitting quietly in your home … an idea occurs to you … that idea begins to develop … finally, you become consumed with enthusiasm … nothing can stop you.
It will help you overcome fear, become more successful in business, make more money, and enjoy a healthier, richer, and happier life.
When can you begin? Right now. Just say to yourself, “This is one thing I can do.”
How can you begin? There is just one rule:
To become enthusiastic—act enthusiastic.
Put this rule into action for thirty days and be prepared to see astonishing results. It easily may revolutionize your entire life.
Stand up on your hind legs each morning, and repeat, with powerful gestures and all the enthusiasm you can generate, these words:
Force yourself to act enthusiastic, and you’ll become enthusiastic!
I urge you to reread many times this chapter by Frank Bettger, and to make a high and holy resolve that you will double the amount of enthusiasm that you have been putting into your work and into your life. If you carry out that resolve, you will probably double your income and double your happiness.

This Idea Put Me Back Into Selling After I Had Quit

Looking back across the years, I am astounded how trivialities have changed the entire course of my life.
As I have already said, after ten miserable, disheartening months trying to sell life insurance, I gave up all hope of ever being able to sell anything. I resigned, and I spent several days answering want ads. I wanted a job as a shipping clerk, because as a boy I had worked for the American Radiator Company, hammering nails into crates and stencilling them for shipment. With my limited education, I thought I could qualify for that kind of work. But try as I did, I couldn’t even get a job as a shipping clerk.
I was not only discouraged; I was in the depths of despair. I figured that I’d have to go back to riding my bicycle and collecting installments for George Kelly’s. My highest hope was to get my old job back at $18 a week.
I had left a fountain pen, a penknife, and a few other personal things at the insurance company office. So one morning I went back to get them. I expected to be there only a few minutes, but while I was cleaning out my desk, the president of the company, Mr. Walter LeMar Talbot, and all of the salesmen came into the “bull pen” to hold a meeting. I couldn’t leave without embarrassment, so I sat there and listened to several salesmen talk. The more they talked, the more discouraged I got. They were talking about things I knew I couldn’t possibly do. Then I heard the president, Mr. Talbot, utter one sentence that has had a profound and lasting effect on my life for the past thirty-one years. That sentence was this:
Gentlemen, after all, this business of selling narrows down to one thing—just one thing … seeing the people! Show me any man of ordinary ability who will go out and earnestly tell his story to four or five people every day, and I will show you a man who just can’t help making good!
Well, that lifted me right out of my chair. I’d believe anything that Mr. Talbot said. Here was a man who had started working for the company when he was eleven years old; worked his way through every department; had actually been out on the street selling for several years. He knew what he was talking about. It was just as though the sun had suddenly burst out from the clouds. I made up my mind right then to take him at his word.
I said to myself, “Look here, Frank Bettger, you’ve got two good legs. You can go o...

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