The History Of Sales

“Sales are contingent upon the attitude of the salesperson – not the attitude of the prospect.” – W. Clement Stone

While doing some research on sales during this past week I went on a rabbit trail into the history of sales. This was completely accidental but I thought why not make a blog post about it. So without further ado here it is!

The Beginnings

Sales has always been around, it is the oldest job out there, you can go as far back as possible as long as people were creating something and there was money to spend sales were happening. The specialization of sales, on the other hand, didn’t start happening until the late 1700s. This is when the terms hunter and farmer were born so salespeople wouldn’t have to look for new leads and follow up in the time of such slow communication. 

Snake Oil Salesman

In the 1800s the industrial revolution was at its peak. With the booming revolution the workers were suffering, the salesmen would approach the workers and make marvelous claims. They told them that the snake oil would heal all of their pains. During this time snake oil would grow to be correspondent with relieving discomfort, now it is realized that it was just the start of a sleazy salesman and a big fraud. 

The Turning Point

E. K. Strong’s book The Psychology of Selling published in 1925 is noted as a turning point in business sales. The book showed how sales can be taught and is more technical than originally thought. Strong’s book inspired Dale Carnegie’s book How to Win Friends and Influence People which was published in 1936. Carnegie expanded on the concept of AIDCA (attention, interest, desire, conviction, and action) where he showed how one can easily end with a sale by going through these easy five steps.

Overview and Conclusion

Since the snake oil salesman a few new generations of salespeople have emerged, the fast-talking salesman, SPIN selling, and solution selling. Now the current salesperson is one that can continuously adapt. In the age of constantly being bombarded with information, a customer is often only a click away from a better deal. 

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