Sales Case Study: Salem, MA, February 1692 – May 1693

Sales agents representing the East India Trading Company sold over £10,000 worth of goods in a small, agrarian community of only around 2,000 people over the course of 16 months. How did they accomplish such a remarkable feat? By casting a dark spell over the local populace to convince them powdered wigs look distinguished? No, not this time.

They achieved these outstanding results simply by adhering to five basic principles, and their methods serve as a shining example of what sales should be.

Create a Need. There are probably people out there who want what you’re selling, but finding them takes time, and time is money. Instead, create circumstances for the people already around you that necessitate whatever product you’re trying to move.

Got rope? Propose a hanging. Got lots of rope, like our agents in Salem? Introduce the local children to the exciting game of accusing their neighbors of witchcraft.

As a beautiful extra touch, our agents made an offhand remark to the town council that reusing a noose is the type of low-class behavior we might expect of the Irish, ensuring their Protestant thriftiness wouldn’t cut into our profits.

Employ an Influencer. Some people thought sending their neighbors to the gallows was unseemly. Naturally, those people needed to be shown that they were wrong. How? By having someone more popular than them espouse a different view in exchange for free products.

For a few lengths of rope, Elizabeth Hubbard—a trendy member of the target demographic—made repeated public demonstrations of how much fun it could be to hurl wild accusations. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Cross-Sell. Sales should beget sales. Once they moved enough ropes for witch hangings, it was easy to push wart removal potion. And once enough people drank the potion, it was even easier to push leeches to treat the outbreak of diarrhea.

Upsell. Selling rope was great, but selling transfiguration-resistant rope at a 300% premium? That was brilliant. And what did it take? Nothing but a quick demonstration of how a rope could not successfully hang a witch if said rope was turned into a newt, plus a simple money-back guarantee (with stipulations that moneys will only be refunded upon the return of the rope-turned-newt, along with measurements confirming the newt is the same length as the original rope).

Always Be Closing. A good salesman is constantly closing in on a sale, and our agents in Salem were nothing if not good salesmen. To them, a family refusing to purchase ropes wasn’t a setback; it was an opportunity. An opportunity for a mass hanging, conducted using East India Trading Company Certified Transfiguration-Resistant Ropes.

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