The 5 Greatest Sales People of All Time
The best way to be great at anything is to emulate and learn from the masters of your craft that came before you. That's why we've compiled this list of the five greatest sales people of all time.
- Joe Girard - “If you lack the courage to start, you have already finished.”
Born Joe Girardi to a family of poor Sicilian immigrants, Joe would go on to become easily the greatest car salesperson of all time. Girard (who changed his name from Girardi do to anti-Italian bigotry) sold 13,001 cars at a Chevrolet dealership between 1963 and 1978, and was recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the seller of the most cars in a year (1,425 in 1973). Down on his luck at the age of 35, Joe begged a sales manager at a local dealership in Detroit to give him a job. He sold a car his first day and would eventually write the bestseller How to Sell Anything to Anybody.
- John H. Patterson - “Before you try to convince anyone else, be sure you are convinced, and if you cannot convince yourself, drop the subject.”
Founder of the National Cash Register Company and regarded as one of the greatest salesman of all time. Patterson invented modern selling, with his pioneering efforts leading him to create the sales training manual, canned presentations and quotas.
- Mary Kay Ash - “Most people live and die with their music still unplayed. They never dare to try.”
Known as the “Queen of Sales” and founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics. She quit her day job after she had been overlooked for a promotion which was instead given to a male colleague, despite the fact she was by far the top selling rep. Mary Kay Ash then founded her own brand and through relentless direct marketing, she built a personal fortune of almost 100 million dollars.
- Napoleon Barragan - a man who started his career selling donkeys and eventually was pulling in over $170 million per year.
Originally from Ecuador, Barragan began his career at the age of 17 selling donkey’s on the side of the road. He was eventually able to hustle his way to NYC, began work as a sales rep in a mattress store and eventually saved $5000 to found his own company “1-800 Mattress” . He then revolutionized sales through pioneering the then emerging technology of the 1-800 number.
- Billy Mays - “I'm a pitchman, my business comes from the pitch, nothing else.”
After dropping out of college, Mays worked for his father's hazardous waste company before moving to Atlantic City, New Jersey in 1983. On the Atlantic City boardwalk, Mays sold the Washmatik portable washing device to passersbys along with other "As Seen on TV" products. Mays would go on to become one of the world’s most iconic TV salesmen. When asked where he learned to sell he said "I was taught to pitch by a lot of old pitchmen. That's the kind of style I have."