Mr. Wesson had called on one of the leading stylists in New York once a week, every week for three years. "He never refused to see me," said Mr. Wesson, "but he never bought. He always looked over my sketches very carefully and then said: 'No, Wesson, I guess we don't get together today.' "
After 150 failures, Wesson realized he must be in a mental rut, so he resolved to devote one evening a week to the study of influencing human behavior, to help him develop new ideas and generate new enthusiasm.
He decided on this new approach. With half a dozen unfinished artists' sketches under his arm, he rushed over to the buyer's office. "I want you to do me a little favor, if you will," he said. "'Here are some uncompleted sketches. Won't you please tell me how we could finish them up in such a way that you could use them?"
The buyer looked at the sketches for a while without uttering a word. Finally he said: "Leave these with me for a few days, Wesson, and then come back and see me."
Wesson returned three days later, got his suggestions, took the sketches back to the studio and had them finished according to the buyer's ideas.
The result? All accepted. After that, this buyer ordered scores of other sketches from Wesson, all drawn according to the buyer's ideas. "I realized why I had failed for years to sell him," said Mr. Wesson. "I had urged him to buy what I thought he ought to have. Then I changed my approach completely. I urged him to give me his ideas. This made him feel that he was creating the designs. And he was. I didn't have to sell him. He bought."
Letting the other person feel that the idea is his or hers not only works in business and politics, it works in family life as well. Paul M. Davis of Tulsa, Oklahoma, told his class how he applied this principle:
"My family and I enjoyed one of the most interesting sightseeing vacation trips we have ever taken. I had long dreamed of visiting such historic sites as the Civil War battlefield in Gettysburg, Independence Hall in Philadelphia, and our nation's capital. Valley Forge, James-town and the restored colonial village of Williamsburg were high on the list of things I wanted to see.
"In March my wife, Nancy, mentioned that she had ideas for our summer vacation which included a tour of the western states, visiting points of interest in New Mexico, Arizona, California and Nevada. She had wanted to make this trip for several years. But we couldn't obviously make both trips.
"Our daughter, Anne, had just completed a course in U.S. history in junior high school and had become very interested in the events that had shaped our country's growth. I asked her how she would like to visit the places she had learned about on our next vacation. She said she would love to.
"Two evenings later as we sat around the dinner table, Nancy announced that if we all agreed, the summer's vacation would be to the eastern states that it would him a great trip for Anne and thrilling for all of us. We all concurred."
This same psychology was used by an X-ray manufacturer to sell his equipment to one of the largest hospitals in Brooklyn This hospital was building an addition and preparing to equip it with the finest X-ray department in America. Dr. L, who was in charge of the X-ray department, was overwhelmed with sales representatives, each caroling the praises of his own company's equipment.
One manufacturer, however, was more skillful. He knew far more about handling human nature than the others did. He wrote a letter something like this:
Our factory has recently completed a new line of X-ray equipment. The first shipment of these machines has just arrived at our office. They are not perfect. We know that, and we want to improve them. So we should be deeply obligated to you if you could find time to look them over and give us your ideas about how they can be made more serviceable to your profession. Knowing how occupied you are, I shall be glad to send my car for you at any hour you specify. "I was surprised to get that letter," Dr. L said as he related the incident before the class. "I was both surprised and complimented. I had never had an X-ray manufacturer seeking my advice before. It made me feel important. I was busy every night that week, but I canceled a dinner appointment in order to look over the equipment. The more I studied it, the more I discovered for myself how much I liked it.
"Nobody had tried to sell it to me. I felt that the idea of buying that equipment for the hospital was my own. I sold myself on its superior qualities and ordered it installed."
Ralph Waldo Emerson in his essay "Self-Reliance" stated: "In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts; they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty."
Colonel Edward M. House wielded an enormous influence in national and international affairs while Woodrow Wilson occupied the White House. Wilson leaned upon Colonel House for secret counsel and advice more than he did upon even members of his own cabinet. What method did the Colonel use in influencing the President? Fortunately, we know, for House himself revealed it to Arthur D. Howden Smith, and Smith quoted House in an article in The Saturday Evening Post.
" 'After I got to know the President,' House said, 'I learned the best way to convert him to an idea was to plant it in his mind casually, but so as to interest him in it - so as to get him thinking about it on his own account. The first time this worked it was an accident. I had been visiting him at the White House and urged a policy on him which he appeared to disapprove. But several days later, at the dinner table, I was amazed to hear him trot out my suggestion as his own.' "
Did House interrupt him and say, "That's not your idea. That's mine"? Oh, no. Not House. He was too adroit for that. He didn't care about credit. He wanted results. So he let Wilson continue to feel that the idea was his. House did even more than that. He gave Wilson public credit for these ideas.
Let's remember that everyone we come in contact with is just as human as Woodrow Wilson. So let's use Colonel House's technique. A man up in the beautiful Canadian province of New Brunswick used this technique on me and won my patronage. I was planning at the time to do some fishing and canoeing in New Brunswick. So I wrote the tourist bureau for information. Evidently my name and address were put on a mailing list, for I was immediately overwhelmed with scores of letters and booklets and printed testimonials from camps and guides. I was bewildered. I didn't know which to choose. Then one camp owner did a clever thing. He sent me the names and telephone numbers of several New York people who had stayed at his camp and he invited me to telephone them and discover for myself what he had to offer.
I found to my surprise that I knew one of the men on his list. I telephoned him, found out what his experience had been, and then wired the camp the date of my arrival.
The others had been trying to sell me on their service, but one let me sell myself. That organization won. Twenty-five centuries ago, Lao-tse, a Chinese sage, said some things that readers of this book might use today:
"The reason why rivers and seas receive the homage of a hundred mountain streams is that they keep below them. Thus they are able to reign over all the mountain streams. So the sage, wishing to be above men, putted himself below them; wishing to be before them, he putted himself behind them. Thus, though his place is above men, they do not feel his weight; though his place is before them, they do not count it an injury."
Chapter 3: 12 (twelve) ways to win people to your way of thinking