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*A Book Review*

The Success System That Never Fails

By W. Clement Stone

by Michael C. Gray

December 1, 2003

The "grandfather" of Michael Gerber's The E-Myth is W. Clement Stone's The Success System That Never Fails.

W. Clement Stone was a phenomenal salesperson who built built a great company -- the United States Casualty Company. He was also a close friend of Napoleon Hill and co-author with Hill of Success Through A Positive Mental Attitude.

In The Success System That Never Fails, Stone shares his story as well as many other success stories.

The key to Stone's success actually lies in the title of his book -- The System. By defining a success system, you are creating a recipe for success that can be used by others and doesn't depend on personality.

At age 19, Stone started working with his mother selling accident policies. He evidently had enormous energy and drive. At age 19, he averaged selling 48 policies per day. Later in his life, he reached a nine-day average of 72 policies per day, and sold 122 policies in one day. He did this using a cold canvass system at office buildings, meaning he had no pre-arranged appointments. Most of us can't conceive of talking to that many people in one day. He might have made some sales of multiple policies for some families, but he must have seen an awful lot of customers in a day to make those sales. I can visualize him running down the halls!

One of the decisions that Stone made to increase his production was to limit the time he would spend on his sales effort. If a customer wouldn't make the commitment in the designated time, he would move on to the next call.

When Stone reached the 72 policy per day level, he started concentrating on building his own sales force. When the Great Depression hit, he devoted more of his attention to creating a sales training program to improve the effectiveness of his sales team, including spending some initial time with new salespersons in the field. He also developed custom insurance policies that would be easy to sell and renew.

Stone believe the key components of a success systems that never fails are (1) inspiration to action; (2) know how; and (3) activity knowledge. The system should be managed based on a record of "success indicators", which was his sales log. The system should be constructed by documenting what works, including phrases that customers respond to.

His first key phrase was his sales opening -- "I believe this will interest you also." When the customer responded, "What is it?", he had the opening for his sales presentation.

He developed a two-page form letter and two circulars for direct mail that he used for recruiting for many years in his business, and a screening process for hiring salespeople.

One of Stone's key concepts is, you are subject to your environment. Thefore, select the best environment that will best develop you toward your desired objective.

He also said that sales are contingent on the attitude of the salesman, not the attitude of the prospect.

To keep priorities in order, that money shouldn't be the main objective, his favorite quote is from Alexis Carroll, a French scientist, "When a man understands that the aim of life is not material profit, but life itself, he ceases to fix his attention exclusively on the external world."

The Success System That Never Fails is another self-improvement classic that should be on your reading list.

Buy it on Amazon: The Success System That Never Fails.

For our new reviews of business and self-improvement books, subscribe to our newsletter, Michael Gray, CPA's Tax & Business Insight!

The Success System That Never Fails, by W. Clement Stone, explains how to create your own success system.


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Michael Gray, CPA
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