Excerpts from

  How I Raised Myself From Failure
to Success in Selling
by Frank Bettger

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Book Description
Frank Bettger's book How I Raised Myself From Failure To Success In Selling is one of the most practical books ever written on the subject of selling. It was first published in the 1940s and remains a timeless classic.
Probably the best book on the philosophy of selling ever written.

This book can help you develop the style, spirit, and techniques of a first-rate sales professional. Accelerate enthusiasm, conquer fear, develop confidence, and deliver a winning presentation. A perfect gift for any professional in the world of selling, this book offers timeless principles that will help you develop the attitudes and skills to multiply your effectiveness.

There are many ideas in this book that anyone in any field can relate to. Even if you are not a salesman, Frank Bettger main focus is how to achieve success in any undertaking. If you are interested in achieving success in any field we recommend you read this book and apply the principles within.


I have known the author of this book, Frank Bettger, since 1917. He came up the hard way, got little formal education, never finished grade school. The history of his life is an outstanding American success story.

His father died when he was just a small boy, leaving his mother with five little children. When he was eleven years old, he had to get up at four-thirty in the morning to sell newspapers on street corners to help his widowed mother, who took in washing and sewing in order to help feed her family. Mr. Bettger told me that there were many times when he seldom had anything for his evening meal but corn-meal mush and skimmed milk.

At 14, he had to leave school; took a job as a steamfitter’s helper. At eighteen, he became a professional baseball player, and for two years he played third base for the St Louis Cardinals. Then one day in Chicago, Illinois, while playing against the Chicago Cubs, he injured his arm and was forced to give up baseball.

He drifted back to Philadelphia, his home town—and when I met him he was 29 years of age, trying to sell life in­surance, and was a total failure as a salesman. Yet during the next twelve years, he made enough money to purchase a seventy-thousand-dollar country estate, and could have re­tired at forty. I know. I saw it happen. I saw him rise from a total failure to one of the most successful and highest paid salesmen in America. In fact, I persuaded him to join me a few years ago and tell his story in a series of one-week schools I was giving under the auspices of the United States Junior Chamber of Commerce, on “Leadership Training, Human Relations and Salesmanship.”

Frank Bettger has earned the right to talk and write on this subject, for he has made nearly 40,000 sales calls—the equivalent of five calls every day for more than twenty-five years.

The first chapter, “How One Idea Multiplied My Income and Happiness,” is to me the most inspiring address I have ever heard on the power of enthusiasm. Enthusiasm took Frank Bettger out of the ranks of failure and helped trans­form him into one of the nation’s highest-paid salesmen.

I saw Frank Bettger make his first stumbling talk in public, and I have seen him delight and inspire large audiences all the way from Portland, Oregon, to Miami, Florida. After seeing the amazing effect he had on men, I urged him to write a book, relating his experiences, his techniques, and his philosophy of selling, just as he told them to thousands of people throughout the country from the lecture platform.

Here it is—the most helpful and inspiring book on sales­manship I have ever read—a book that will be helping salesmen, regardless of whether they are selling insurance, or shoes, or ships, or sealing-wax, long after Frank Bettger has passed away.

I have read every page of this book. I can recommend it with enthusiasm. Talk about walking a mile to get a cigarette—when I started out to sell, I would gladly have walked from Chicago to New York to get a copy of this book, if it had been available.



One day, quite by accident, I got on the same train in New York with Dale Carnegie. Dale was bound for Mem­phis, Tennessee, to deliver some lectures.

He said: “Frank, I have been giving a series of one-week schools, sponsored by the United States Junior Chamber of Commerce; why don’t you come along with me and give some talks on selling?”

I thought he was joking. I said: “Dale, you know I didn’t finish grade school. I couldn’t give lectures on selling.”

Dale said “Just tell them how you raised yourself from failure to success in selling. Just tell them what you did.”

I thought it over, and I said, “Well, I guess I could do that.”

In a short time, Dale and I were delivering lectures all over the country. We talked to the same audience four hours a night for five consecutive nights. Dale would speak for half an hour; then I would talk for half an hour.

Later, Dale said: “Frank, why don’t you write a book? Many of the books on salesmanship are written by people who never did any selling at all. Why don’t you write a new kind of book on selling? A book that tells precisely what you did—a book that tells how you raised yourself from a failure to a success in selling. Tell the story of your own life. Put the word “I” in every sentence. Don’t lecture. Just tell the story of your life as a salesman.”

The more I thought about this, the more I thought it would sound egotistical.

“I don’t want to do that,” I said.

But Dale spent one whole afternoon with me, pleading with me to tell my own story, just as I had from the lecture platform.

Dale said: “In every city where we gave our lectures, those Junior Chamber of Commerce boys asked whether Frank Bettger was putting his lectures in the form of a book. You probably thought that young man in Salt Lake City was joking when he put down $40 in advance, for the first copy of it—but he wasn’t. He knew it would be worth many times $40 to him. . . .

So, in a short time, I was writing a book.

In these pages, I have tried to tell the story of my stupid blunders and mistakes, and precisely what I did that lifted me out of the ranks of failure and despair. When I broke into selling, I had two strikes on me. I didn’t know any more about selling than a jack-rabbit. My eight years in baseball seemed to unfit me for anything even remotely like selling. If Lloyds of London had been betting on me, they would have bet a thousand to one that I would fail. And I didn’t have much more confidence in myself than Lloyds would have had.

I hope you will overlook and forgive me for using the personal pronoun “I.” If there is anything in this book that sounds as though I’m bragging about myself, I didn’t intend it that way. Whatever bragging I’ve done was meant for what these ideas did for me, and what they will do for anyone who will apply them.

I have attempted to write the kind of book that I tried to find when I first started to sell. Here it is. I hope you like it.




1.       How One Idea Multiplied My Income and Happiness        

2.       This Idea Put Me Back Into Selling After I Had Quit             

3.       One Thing I Did That Helped Me Destroy the Biggest

Enemy I Ever Had to Face                                           

4.       The Only Way I Could Get Myself Organized                                                                                               




5.       How I Learned the Most Important Secret of Salesmanship

6.       Hitting the Bull’s Eye                                                           

7.       A $250,000 Sale in 15 Minutes                                           

8.       Analysis of the Basic Principles Used in Making That Sale                                                                     

9.       How Asking Questions Increased the Effectiveness

of My Sales Interviews                                                 

10.     How I Learned to Find the Most Important Reason Why a Man Should Buy                                              

11.     The Most Important Word I Have Found in Selling

Has Only Three Letters                                               

12.     How I Find the Hidden Objection                                       

13.     The Forgotten Art That Is Magic in Selling                           



14.     The Biggest Lesson I Ever Learned About Creating Confidence                                                                   

15.            A Valuable Lesson I Learned About Creating

Confidence From a Great Physician                             

16.            The Quickest Way I Ever Discovered to Win Confidence                                                            

17.     How to Get Kicked Out!                                                        

18.     I Found This an Infallible Way to Gain a Man’s Confidence                                                                   

19.     How to Look Your Best                                                        

Summary—Part 3                                                                           




20. An Idea I Learned From Lincoln Helped Me Make Friends

21. I Became More Welcome Everywhere When I Did This           

22. How I Learned to Remember Names and Faces                      

23. The Biggest Reason Why Salesmen Lose Business         

24. This Interview Taught Me How to Overcome My Fear of Approaching Big Men                                        

Summary—Part Four                                                                   




25.     The Sale Before the Sale                                                      

26.     The Secret of Making Appointments                                     

27.     How I Learned to Outsmart Secretaries and Switchboard Operators                                                

28.     An Idea That Helped Me Get Into the “Major Leagues”         

29.     How to Let the Customer Help You Make the Sale              

30.     How I Find New Customers and Make Old Ones Enthusiastic Boosters                                                   

31.     Seven Rules I Use in Closing the Sale                                   

32.     An Amazing Closing Technique I Learned from a Master Salesman                                                          

Summary—Part 5                                                                            




33.     Don’t Be Afraid to Fail!                                                     

34.     Benjamin Franklin’s Secret of Success and What It Did for Me                                                                 

35.     Let’s You and I Have a Heart to Heart Talk


Order in Adobe PDF eBook form for $9.95

or click here to order in printed form from Amazon.com for $14