I’ve been told that probably the most important thing a trial lawyer does in pleading a case before court is to bring on his witnesses. Naturally, the judge and jury feel that the lawyer is prejudiced in his views, so they are likely to discount some of the things he says. But good testimony from a reliable witness exerts a powerful influence on the court in establishing confidence for the lawyer as he builds his case.
Let’s see how witnesses can help in selling.
For many years upon delivery of each contract I sold, the buyer signed our company’s printed “acceptance receipt.” I had these receipts photostatted and pasted on sheets of paper in a loose-leaf book. I found they exerted a powerful influence in establishing confidence for me among strangers. Coming toward the “close,” I usually say something like this: “Mr. Allen, naturally, I am prejudiced. Anything I say about this plan would be favorable; so I want you to talk with someone who has no interest in selling it. May I use your telphone for a minute?” Then I call one of my “witnesses” on the phone–preferably someone whose name the prospect recognizes as he glances over the signatures on the “acceptance receipts.” Often, it is a neighbor or friend. Sometimes it is an out-of-town call. Ling distance calls, I find most effective. (Now remember! I make this call on my prospect’s phone. But I immediately ask the operator to report the cost of the call, and I always pay it immediately.)
When I first tried this, I was afraid the prospect would stop me, but none ever has. In fact, they seem pleased to talk with my “witness.” Sometimes it is an old friend, and the conversation drifts into channels far removed from the original purpose of the call.
I stumbled across this idea quite by accident, but have found it a superb way to bring on your witnesses. I never had much success overcoming objections with clever comebacks. They read well in textbooks, but when I tried to sue them, they only seemed to lead into an argument. I found it a hundred times more effective when I could get a direct testimony from one of my “witnesses,” and they are as close as the telephone.
How do my witneseses feel about this? They always seem glad to give advice. When I get to see them to express my application, I find it has had a double-barreled effect, for in their effort to sell my new prospect, they have become more enthusiastic about what I have sold them.
Years ago, a close friend of mine was in the market for an oil burner for his home. He received letters and catalogs from various companies. One of these letters read something like this: “Here’s a list of your neighbors who heat their homes with our burner. Why don’t you just step over to the phone and call up Mr. Jones, your neighbor, and ask him how he likes our heater?”
My friend did pick up the phone and talk to some of his neighbors on that list. And he did buy that heater. Although this happened eighteen years ago, my friend said recently: “I have always remembered the wording of that letter.”
Several weeks after I gave a class in Tulsa, Oklahoma, a salesman wrote and told me how he began using this idea with sensational effect in his approach. Here it is:
Me: Mr. Harris, there is a store over in Oklahoma City about the same size as yours, that secured over forty new customers last month because they began selling a certain nationally adverised article. If it were possible for you to talk to the owner of that store, wouldn’t you want to ask him some questions about it? Him: Yes Me: May I use your telephone for a minute? Sure, go right ahead. I immediately called the owner of that store on the phone and then let the two merchants talk, wrote this salesman. I have found this not only a perfect approach, he continued, but one of the best selling ideas I have ever used.
Let me give you just one more experience which Dale Carnegie told me about. I’ll Dale tell you himself: > I wanted to know where I could go in Canada, to a new camp, where I could depend on good food, good beds, good fishing and hunting. So I wrote to the recreation department of New Brunswick. Shortly afterward, I got answers from thirty or forty camps, literature of all sorts from them, which confused me more than ever. But one man sent me a letter and said, “Why don’t you call up these people in New York City who have been to our camp recently and ask them about it?”
I recognized the name of one man on the list, and called him up. He went into eulogies telling how wonderful the camp was.. There was one man whom I knew, whom I could believe, and who could tell me what I wanted to know. A direct testimony. I could get confidential information. None of the others produced witnesses. Surely all these other camps had them, but didn’t bother to use the one thing that would gain my confidence more quickly than any other!"
So an infallible way to gain a man’s confidence quickly is to:
Bring On Your Witnesses.