The Sales History Podcast

Todd Caponi

Bringing the incredible (and sometimes strange) brains from the profession of sales' past to the 2020's - from Todd Caponi, author of The Transparency Sale.

All Episodes

The best podcasts give you access to top performers; salespeople, leaders & influencers, right? But, how about a top performer...from 100+ years ago?!?This week I've got a special episode for you -  where I (fake) interview Norval Hawkins (1867-1936), known as the greatest salesperson to ever work for Ford, whom Henry Ford himself referred to as "my million dollar man". Hawkin's writing is profound, just thinking about things differently - but incredibly applicable to today.So, in this interview, I play the role of podcast interviewer, and I play the role of Norval Hawkins, answering the questions using his own thoughts from ~ 100 years ago.If you have feedback, let's hear it! Reach out via www.toddcaponi.com, connect on LinkedIn, or follow on Instagram or Twitter @SalesHistorian, where I post daily with quotes from sales history's past.

Sep 7

22 min 23 sec

The question: Where did the qualification construct BANT come from? In looking for the answer, I realized something...Sales processes of the early 20th century? All buyer-focused steps - what is the buyer doing? Sales processes since the 1950's, when BANT came around? All seller-focused, all the way down to our CRM stages.To be truly buyer-focused, shouldn't our processes & measures be housed in recognizing buyer behavior?

Aug 24

16 min 53 sec

Sales compensation - commission-only until the 1900's. And, for good reason. You wouldn't pay a rep you rarely see a salary, right? Sales are face-to-face. Travel is slow, there's no real-time distance communication, and no CRM system, so it's what you did. Sell something, get paid - a lot. Don't sell something, don't get paid. The birth of salary+commission changed that, and inspired the need for quotas. In this episode, we track that progression, the original purpose of a quota, and how we've convoluted that purpose over time. Maybe we should consider going back?

Aug 17

19 min 11 sec

Cold calling - some love it, some hate it, but when did it start? Specifically, when did salespeople start cold canvassing (in-person), and when did they start doing it using the telephone?The answers are pretty clear, and what you find in a Google search are NOT the correct answers...clearly. Let's debunk the false, and get to the truth about where our cold outreach began.

Aug 10

15 min 35 sec

Are you responsible for "drumming up business" in your role? Do you "carry a bag" as a salesperson? Do you know where those terms come from? They come from the traveling salespeople of the 1800s. In today's episode, I tell their story - of the hard-drinking, back-slapping "Drummer" - and of the horseback riding "Bagmen" - what it was like to be one, and where those terms came from.@SalesHistorian on Twitter or Instagram

Aug 3

13 min 49 sec

Many view the past-10-plus-the-next-10-years as a period where technology is and will completely change the sales profession. But if we use history as a guide, where technology was changing an awful lot more than it is today, salespeople will ruin it again.  The rise of the telephone, email, even LinkedIn...may have done more harm than good for a profession reliant on its reputation.In this look back at the rise of technology-enabled sales from the advent of the telephone, we explore the lessons learned from sales' past as our filter for selecting the sales technologies we leverage in the future.

Jul 27

16 min 20 sec

If there was a Hall of Fame of sales thought leaders & pioneers, who would you put in it? Zig Ziglar? Dale Carnegie? Brian Tracy? Who else?Arthur Sheldon needs to be on that list - I'd argue ahead of all three! Lost in the pages of sales history's past, upon his death in 1935, the Chicago Daily Tribune referred to him as “the author of more works on salesmanship than any other person” and “THE philosopher of selling.” Today, I share his story. 

Jul 20

12 min 33 sec

Phrenology. Physiognomy. Graphology = A couple of the sales methodologies of 100 years ago that may sound really strange to us today, but were embraced and pervasive back then. So pervasive, the Ford Motor Company swore by one of them. The pioneers of this weirdness were the heralded keynotes at sales events. In this episode, we dive into those strange (by today's standards) methodologies of sales' past.

Jul 13

13 min 10 sec

We so often hear and see people proclaiming that "Sales should be taught in college". Well, it was...and in high school, too, back in the early 1900's. The most prominent universities in the country (Harvard, Wharton, etc.) had it. Then it disappeared - for decades. Now it's coming back - aggressively. Why did we need and have it 100+ years ago? Why did it disappear? Why is it back now? Could it disappear again? All covered in this week's Sales History Podcast. 

Jul 6

20 min 7 sec

Imagine, it's 1920, and someone is sitting around asking themselves, "I wonder what the history of sales is". They do the homework, then they write about it. Well, I found it. And in this episode, I summarize it - the History of Sales from the beginning of time through 1920.

Jun 29

13 min 44 sec

105 years ago - the sales profession was not only respected & trusted, it was admired! As evidence, the first World Sales Congress was taking place in Detroit, keynoted by the President...in the middle of a world war! Here's the story of the event, my take on how we've lost our way, and how to get it back!

Jun 22

9 min 49 sec

"Salesmanship" - a pervasive word at the time, but that doesn't necessarily mean women didn't play a prominent role in the profession 100+ years ago. And even more amazing, in this episode, I tell the story of Lucinda W. Prince, who became the profession's leading advocate for empowering women to embrace, establish and excel in sales.

Jun 16

12 min

William Faulkner called him “the father of American literature”. From my research, Mark Twain may also be “the pioneer of sales enablement”. In this first episode, I tell you the story of how Mark Twain saved the Ulysses S. Grant family, turning his book into the 2nd best selling book of all-time (at the time) through creating a sales enablement environment supporting 10,000 salespeople!

Jun 8

8 min 4 sec