Promise, LARGE promise is the SOUL of any advertisement

Two hundred fifty years ago, essayist, poet and author Dr. Samuel Johnson said, “Promise, large promise, is the soul of an advertisement.” And Ogilvy agreed.

When you get the promise right…by identifying, reinforcing, and emphasizing the strongest benefit… your product will practically sell itself.

It ain’t matter if you express yourself in perfect English.

The ONLY thing that will matter is that YOUR ideas are clear and easy to understand.


The Rewards of Being a Salesman – Part 1

john ashworth

Here’s what being a salesman means to me – Click here for Part 2

written by john c ashworth

I have often felt stymied by that question, “what would you do, John, if you no longer needed to earn a living anymore?” What would you do with your time and your days if money was not a concern and you had no other responsibilities clamoring for your attention? What would be next?

Just this morning, as I hung up the phone following a very productive online showcase of the products I’m currently selling I realized something profound.

“There’s actually no place I would rather be on a daily basis than selling and connecting with prospects and customers. Connecting with people.”

Really, it’s true.

I know it might sound a little corny and maybe even a little naive, but it’s true. Of course, I would spend a lot more time here on The Ash Flash too and with a few of my other hobbies, but overall? This is where I love to be.


First, it’s where the money is made in any business. And that’s the game I’ve been playing for many years now. A game that feels quite familiar to the mission of my youth. Trying to put the soccer ball into the back of the net. It’s always fun to be a part of the business development team and at the heart of helping to drive growth for any company. My own or otherwise. It’s always fun to score. This is important work. After all, the primary reason anyone goes into business is to make money. Serving customers is essential, but you need to make money too. Don’t ever forget that.

What I’m discovering as I get a little older, wiser, and exponentially better at my craft as a salesperson is someting much more profound and important for the health and success of your own sales team and your business as a whole. Your salsespeople are the people inside your company that most often possess the strongest relationships with your customers. They are the ambassadors of YOU and YOUR brand. The focal points of most of your initial and extremely important touchpoints inside your business and the system that serves them.

Sales is where the lasting and important connections with customers and prospects are started and very often solidified over the years when you have the right salespeople committed to their part in cultivating these relationships.

Notice that I still included prospects in that last sentence. Because even though I always hate to admit it, the reality is that at least initially, most people will NOT buy from you. Yet, there is still tremendous value in these interractions. For one, people often come back and buy later. Second, every interraction is a catalyst for sales expertise built over time and for the on-going goodwill you need to build inside your company’s structures and systems. Much of that good will is cultivated through the interactions your salespeople have with your customers and prospects every day.

But there is something else I’m realizing about this process that gets to the core of why I would keep doing it whether I needed to or not. The part that I truly cherrish and that lives at the heart of what I do every day. The connection it creates with another human being.

A connection that, once established, can literally last a lifetime and that which is at the heart of all human interaction. Sales puts me in front of people with whom I would have never had the opportunity to interact and very often leads to new thoughts, new ideas, new relationships, and sometimes even new friendships.

In addition, when you’re selling a good product, one that you believe in and that is truly designed to solve problems, these relationships and conversations and interactions solve problems for people and improve their business and their lives as a whole. When you’re lucky enough to find yourself in such a role you have an extremely unique opportunity to serve those you come in contact day to day in rewarding ways. You have a unique opportunity to connect.

I look forward to working with you for years to come.

Now, I gotta get back on the telephone.


On a roll…

written by john c ashworth
madison car salesman

I got on a roll last night and made a nice round of follow-up calls to prospective car customers and in the process I learned a number of extremely valuable lessons I thought I would share with you today. Most of these lessons were not new, are not totally earth shattering, and will likely not come as a surprise to you either. They are still worth sharing. In fact, it is directly as a result of their mundane nature that I felt compelled to write them down and put them in to this post. A post that marks the beginning of another journey I will share more about later.

  1. First, you can make all the excuses you want about when it might be polite to call people on the phone, but in the end, the goal is to reach people, talk to them in person, leave some kind of lasting impression, and move a car deal to the next step – whatever that might be. I’ll elaborate on that point in #4 titled, “one step at a time.”I heard a story the other day from a sales manager that relates to the idea about when it might be polite or not to call people on the phone.  He told me all about one of his previous golden boys who used to purposely set aside an entire morning to call as many prospects as possible.  He performed this mundane and almost worthless task at a time when he felt most sure he would NOT reach them in person, so that he could quickly leave them a message, get off the phone, and get on to the next call.  This so called strategy allowed him to make more than a hundred calls at a time.  I should also note, that this guy is no longer selling cars.To me, this seems like a great example of completing sales activities and tasks only for the sake of completing them, without any interesting or productive thought about an actual strategy that maximizes impact and minimizes wasted time.  Tonight, I made all of my calls right around 7 PM, and I reached a live person on 80% or better of those calls.  I accomplished more productive follow-up in one 30 minute stretch this evening then I was able to do all day in the land of constant interruption at the dealership.  And to those that might be tempted to make the excuse that it might be too late in the evening to call people, I will offer the following alternate reality…While at least two of these prospects were on their way out the door for the evening and obviously a little reluctant to talk with me, I did reach them in person, and they did take a few minutes to talk with me.  In one case, I moved a car deal exponentially further along in a matter of minutes.  One guy I talked to was obviously a little annoyed with my call, and at the same time impressed with my tenacity.

    “John, geese.  You know the World Series is on, don’t you?” (I had forgotten 🙂  But yes, I have a few minutes.  Man, you’re a hard worker.”

    This guy won’t buy a car from me this time.  We don’t have the right car.  But that one minute call, made at just the right (or wrong depending on your perspective) time, had a major, almost unforgettable impact.  If his team wins the series, he might always remember that damn salesman who called him during the game.  You know…the one who obviously doesn’t watch a lot of TV, nor let the big game get in the way of his goals.

  2. The game for any salesman is to keep as many deals as possible moving on from one step to the next.  Often, a simple phone call, made at just the right time, is the absolute best way to do this.  Sure, I had a frustrating day.  The headache I woke up with never left me.  I didn’t sell any cars.  I spent almost three hours with a prospect I would be happy never to see again, and had one other deal go backwards.  Not exactly a stellar performance.  It would have been very easy to come home, turn on the television, and just forget about what happened.  Well, I certainly did my best to forget the day, but what I didn’t forget is the importance of the telephone, and of staying the course and working smart.
  3. Learn how to use the tools you have in front of you.  In my case, I’ve been working to really understand the mobile application for our contact management software.  It’s a brilliant little tool.  Walking around in my house, playing with Allie (my 6 year old Labradoodle), sipping my sparkling water and relishing in the afterglow of the 15 minute power nap I took when I got home, I made all kinds of stuff happen.  I set appointments for later this week, and very likely added at least one or two deals to the month’s total.  Not bad for 30 minutes of focused smart effort.  Sure made a lot more sense than wallowing in self pitty and accepting lame excuses for why it might be too late to call anyone.
  4. Lastly…One step at a time.  The car business has taught me a lot about myself over the last three years.  One truth it forces on you is that a sale happens one simple step at a time.  The art is being able to recognize these steps clearly in the context of car deals that can vary widely in their scope.  Forcing you to find patience you though you never had.  And forcing you to get better at what you do every day.  Skipping steps always leads to mistakes, and often lost deals.  While tempting to leap forward, your job as a salesman is to remain grounded in the process and to come back to the basics whenever chaos attempts to rule the day.