In this debut memoir, Murphy offers lessons gleaned from his successful sales career.
Murphy enjoyed the sales process; even as a manager, he still went door to door, he says, and in the introduction, his son writes that “selling was a game for Dad.” He sold office equipment for IBM and later sold and managed door-to-door sales for World Book Encyclopedia. Asserting that “the lessons of door-to-door sales are timeless,” he uses anecdotes to illustrate his insights and advice, the result of which is a mixed bag: Some of his suggestions and observations are valuable; others seem dated or not widely applicable, especially those geared at selling a complex or intangible product. For instance, Murphy stresses the importance of knowing one’s customer, using such clues as the make of car in the driveway, but neglects to mention the usefulness of contemporary Internet-based tools to get information about a prospect. Also, some salespeople may be uncomfortable with the writer’s recommendation to use euphemisms—in Murphy’s case, “I never told anybody I was selling encyclopedias. I said, ‘I’m in education’ ”—and his suggestion to “take out your order pad right away so you won’t spook them with it later on.” On the other hand, just a few pages after this pointer, Murphy discusses the use of visuals and the benefits of asking a customer for referrals to other potential buyers. The most helpful part of this short book may be in a chapter called “How to be a ‘Motivating Son of a Gun,’ ” in which Murphy discusses sales management and considers some traits to look for in salespeople, among them honesty and competitiveness. He tells managers to trust and support their salespeople—“you’re not an employee, you’re my partner”—and emphasizes the vital role of sales training and the notion that both sales managers and the sales force need to believe in the product. Overall, his style tends to be colloquial and unpretentious, if occasionally jarring, as with his use of “girl” to mean “secretary.”
Not terribly revelatory, but most readers will likely pick up some practical tips.