Dale Carnegie: Still The King Of Sales Psychology


(by Bob McCurdy) The July 22 issue of the Wall Street Journal contained an article that focused on Dale Carnegie’s book How to Win Friends and Influence People. It was a terrific flashback as it was one of the first books I read when I landed my first sales job. Amazingly, 80 years after it was first published, it remains on Amazon’s Top 100 list.

After a thorough re-read, it became clear that Carnegie’s insights are as relevant to the sales profession today as they ever were. What follows are some highlights worthy of reflection:

There are four ways in which we have contact with the world. We are evaluated by these four contacts: what we do, how we look, what we say and how we say it.

Note: All four are within our control, that’s the beautiful thing about the sales profession: we completely control our own destiny. We can practice, drill, and rehearse our talking points until they flow flawlessly and we’re totally in control of our own words, effort, and appearance. We’re in a business where “If it’s to be, it’s up to me” really holds true. There are not a lot of people employed in other jobs that can say the same thing. Exhilarating!

All the king’s horses and all the king’s men can’t put the past together again.

Note: The greatest human beings who ever walked this earth couldn’t change what occurred yesterday. Focus on the present while preparing for the future. The past, no matter how successful or challenging, should not influence what happens next. Future success or failure is entirely dependent upon our actions moving forward.

Instead of condemning people, let’s try to understand why they do what they do.

Note: Often when an advertiser doesn’t see things our way, conflict arises. Instead, dig to understand why they believe what they believe. When we do this, we’re on our way to influencing their future decisions. Understand, then act.

Always make the other person feels important. Remember the people you’re talking to are a hundred times more interested in themselves and their wants and problems than they are in you and your problems.

Note: Customers buy more from those who make them feel important. It gets back to mastering listening skills and making sure everything we do or say is about “them.” Also, never forget the sweetest sound in the English language is the sound of someone’s name. It’s such an important sound that it can be heard when it’s even whispered across a room at a cocktail party. Remembering names adds to people’s feelings of importance.

“We are interested in others when they are interested in us.” You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.

Note: This quote influenced my entire line of questioning and interaction with a client this week and believe it will play a large role in closing a sale.

Listening skills today are as abundant as rare earth minerals.

Note: Nothing’s changed in 80 years. It’s funny, the more we “listen,” the more interesting, likeable, and captivating we become to those speaking.

There is only one way to get anyone to do anything and that is by making the other person want to do it.

Note: This is why we need to continue to educate and re-educate our clients. If we want them to think and believe what we think and believe, they need to know what we know.

When dealing with people, remember, you are not dealing with creatures of logic but creatures of emotion.

Note: We buy emotionally and justify with logic, which is why we must listen intently to create the most compelling “story.” Stories generate emotion. Emotionally engaged advertisers, buy more. We should strive to be a little more Mark Twain-like. Facts and figures are not the star, the “story” is the star.

The ideas I stand for are not mine. I borrowed them from Socrates, I swiped them from Chesterfield, I stole them from Jesus.

Note: Great radio salespeople should not only steal marketing and sales insights from various blogs, books, and seminars, but retain what they’ve “stolen” in a location where they can be continually accessed and referenced.

“You can conquer almost any fear if you will only make up your mind to do so. For remember, fear doesn’t exist anywhere except in the mind.” 

Note: Fear of failure, rejection, cold calling, or public speaking doesn’t exist anywhere else in the entire universe but our own minds. Focused thoughts and action can jettison these fears into oblivion.

It seems like most of us today could probably benefit from an injection of Dale Carnegie into our lives.

Bob McCurdy is the Vice President of Sales for the Beasley Media Group and can be reached at [email protected]


  1. I don’t consider Carnegie’s book to be a primer for sales success. It’s more of a “developing empathy” exercise for the average person. It’s phenomenal, lasting popularity and spin-off class courses buttress my belief that Carnegie’s axioms better serve Joe Blow in his daily dealings with his wife and boss than to cause superstar sales in the marketplace.
    For books that cause exceptional sales, “The Art of War” is a good starting place. This masterpiece is all about winning, not pleasing people. I was taught that the trait most necessary for sales success is–durability. Carnegie’s materials never mention this.

  2. Read the book as a teenager although I don’t recall how it came to me or why I chose to read it. In the late ’80’s a friend encouraged me to take the course which led to becoming an instructor for a few years. Bob’s observations are on target. The book will help in all aspects of life. I saw first hand how changed some people’s lives.

  3. Read the book as a teenager, although I don’t remember why or how it came to me. In the late 80’s I took the course and later became an instructor. Bob’s observations are right on. And a follow up books would be Carnegie’s book on sales which was the text for their sales training course.


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