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Selling your ideas? Know thy audience

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in Career Management,Workplace Communication

Sam Walton’s first retail enterprise was a chain called the Ben Franklin Variety Stores, based in Bentonville, Ark. Before he opened Wal-Mart, he called upon trusted employee Bob Bogle and asked him to create a name for his new discount chain. Bob coined the name Walmart (the capital “M” was added later).

Here’s how he sold the idea to Walton:
  • The name contains the seed of Walton’s name, but does not trumpet it too loudly. This appealed to Walton, who was a modest man.

  • The name has only seven letters. That meant that when Walton went to buy stock display letters to put on the store, he would only have to buy seven per store. Walton was, by nature, a penny-pincher.
Lesson: To sell your ideas, create them, and then pitch them in ways that appeal to your prospect’s known desires and preferences.

—Adapted from The Art of Woo: Using Strategic Persuasion to Sell Your Ideas, Richard Shell and Mario Moussa, Penguin.

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