My ‘Ah-Ha’ Moment

This was my ‘ah-ha’ moment.

It came when I was reading a quote by famed author Ralph Waldo Emerson, when the words literally jumped off the page and stopped me in my tracks.

I was familiar with the concept about selling, but had never seen it written as succinctly as this. His words resonated with me, as if he had read my mind.

Here is the quote:

As to methods there may be a million and then some, but principles are few. The man who grasps principles can successfully select his own methods. The man who tries methods, ignoring principles, is sure to have trouble.”

In these few words he stated exactly what I had searched for my whole life: seeking to discover the basic principles and laws underlying all life and living, then finding methods of applying those principles that work for me!

As an intrepid and lifelong student of life, business, people, and interpersonal relationships, I welcomed this quote as a gemstone that realigned and clarified many cloudy areas of my life.  I believe a careful reading may do the same for you.

Principles vs. Methods

First, let’s break down the three main elements of this writing by Mr. Emerson.

1. “As to methods there may be a million and then some, but principles are few.”

This translates as: When your methods reinforce your principles – your principles empower your methods. Both are critical to everything you do in the sales profession as they make up the woof and warp – the underlying structure – of all successful sales actions and activities.

2. “The man who grasps principles can successfully select his own methods”

Methods are HOW. Principles are WHY. There are many routes (methods) to success. Make sure you don’t let your methods violate your principles – they are symbiotic and depend on each other for workability. Once you grasp the principle (the why) for achieving anything, you can discover and choose your own method (the how) of what works for you!

3. “The man who tries methods, ignoring principles, is sure to have trouble.”

It’s pretty easy to see that if you’re experiencing trouble, you’re focusing on the wrong thing. There is no scarcity of methods and tactics, tricks and tips, fads and fashions in the sales business; in fact, there are as many as there are people in the business. And at one time or another, I’ve tried all of them – at least it seems like it.

Ignoring the principles and just trying one method after another will not lead to success. It is, in fact, a sure way to have trouble. If you’re studying and learning only methods, you’ll never find out why something works or doesn’t work. If you learn and study principles, you know why something works or doesn’t work and you can create your methods!

Any method of selling will work, as long as it aligns with the fundamental principles underlying all sales activities.

One last point: The ingredients for success in sales or in life are simple:

a) Know the principles.

b) Use methods that work.

daniel w. jacobs
(c) 2010-2030, all rights reserved

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2 Responses to “My ‘Ah-Ha’ Moment”

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