John Henry Patterson faced financial ruin from his investment in the first cash register, but he turned National Cash Register into one of the most important companies of its day. He also introduced a highly organized sales process that focuses on understanding customers’ needs and selling a solu- tion that meets those needs.

Dale Carnegie began his life as the son of a pig farmer in Missouri, but his book How to Win Friends and Influence People has been a bestseller for nearly 70 years. In that book, Carnegie made famous many lasting prin- ciples, such as tapping into the power of enthusiasm, that would lead to the relationship-oriented approach to selling.

Elmer Wheeler tested thousands of sentences on millions of consumers in his Wheeler World Laboratories, searching for combinations of words that produced the best results. In the process, he developed an influential selling program and wrote more than 20 hit books. His classic selling points include, “Don’t sell the steak, sell the sizzle!”

Joe Girard was born into deep poverty in Detroit. He took his first job at the age of 8, shining shoes in a hardscrabble saloon. After drifting from one bad job to another, he turned to car sales. Soon, he was single-handed- ly selling more cars than 95 percent of all the dealerships in North America. His system for generating leads and gaining referrals still forms the basis of today’s permission marketing and closed-loop marketing.

The stories of these four sales gurus and their key sales innovations offer readers a broad and deep understanding of the entire selling field.