& What We Can Learn From Them

There is much to learn from the historical selling success of the best in the business. Mary Kay Ash empowered and rewarded her sales consultants,  David Ogilvy was an expert in speaking a customer’s language, and Joe Girard emphasized the importance of qualifying sales leads.

Mary Kay Ash

Mary Kay Ash, who began her career as a door-to-door saleswoman, started writing a book for women about how to succeed in the male-dominated workplace of the 1960s. The book evolved into the business model for Mary Kay Cosmetics.

Ash became a millionaire after the company went public in 1968. When one of her team’s sales consultants reached $100,000 in sales within one year, they were rewarded with a custom-made pink cadillac.

Reward your salespeople

What can we learn from her?

Ash empowered her sales teams, giving them the role of a sales consultant and ensuring they displayed expertise in the field. Not only did the pink Cadillacs act as a reward that increased motivation and encouraged healthy competition to sell more – the unmistakable cars were an effective way of marketing her brand.

David Ogilvy

The Father of Advertising also began his career as a door-to-door salesman. Ogilvy was asked to write a sales manual, the Theory and Practice of the Selling of the AGA Cooker in 1935, which is still considered one of the best sales manuals of all time. It claims that ‘the worst fault of a salesman is to be a bore,’ highlighting the importance of showing interest in your customers.  

Ogilvy believed in the value of building up rapport with a potential customer, in order to connect on a conversational and human level. He claimed that ‘you should use their language, the language they use every day, the language in which they think.’

What can we learn from him?

When contacting customers, over the phone, in an email or a marketing mailer, it is important to use friendly and engaging language, to relate to the customer. Leads will be more likely to listen to a sales representative that converses with them, rather than just dictates a rehearsed and impersonal sales pitch. For more on the importance of conversing in a friendly way with leads, check out 80% of Salespeople are Not Successful: Here’s What You’re Doing Wrong

Joe Girard

Joe Girard is known as the greatest car salesman of the post-war era in the United States: at a Detroit-based Chevrolet dealership, he sold 13,001 cars between 1963 and 1978.

If you wanted to be sold a car by Girard, you had to book an appointment with him. This allowed Girard’s assistants to research, screen, and qualify the leads. He revolutionized the way in which cars were sold: previously it was a hit or miss business, where one tried to sell to whomever they came across. Girard made selling cars into a well-organized process.

Sell cars better with Breezz CRM

What can we learn from him?

Girard’s success is a key example of the importance of qualifying leads early on. You can end up wasting valuable time trying to sell to someone who does not have the right level of interest or authority to go through with making the purchase.

CRM is a highly useful tool for qualifying leads – once you have contacted a lead, you can either move them up the sales pipeline to the qualified stage, or, if they do not qualify, mark the deal as lost. If you record the reasons why leads did not qualify, you can avoid contacting similar ones and making the same mistakes in the future.


Written by

Gina Walker

I am a Londoner, UCL graduate, and speaker of 4 languages. My passion for marketing, sales, and overall customer success comes from a love of communication and building relationships.

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