Meet Joe Girard–World’s #1 Retail Salesperson

Joe Girard figured out—quickly I might add—that personal branding is what sets the champions apart.  I always enjoying learning about and applying people’s personal success stories.  Please enjoy this shortened edit (you can thank me later) of an April, 2008 blog by Mike Reining about this amazing sales professional.

For over 12 years in a row, Joe Girard was the #1 retail salesperson in the world and he still holds the world record today.

On average, he used to sell 6 cars per day!

I like you.

Those three words are at the core of what made Joe Girard successful.

Joe Girard did not get into selling right away.  Whenever someone came into Joe’s office he would hand people an “I like you pin.”  “Even if you don’t buy, I like you… but I know you will buy.”

How did you become the world’s $1 salesperson in the toughest business in the world?

Life is a game and you gotta know what you are playing.  Whatever you do and whatever you are selling you are not selling.  You must never stop learning more about this game… what makes people tick, what makes people buy, what makes people do what they do.

Constantly strive to improve yourself. “I am never satisfied.”  If you are satisfied… then you are dead.

I watch both the smart people and the dumb people so that I can see what makes good people good, and what makes bad people bad.

“Every morning that I get up, I say that somebody is going to pay for getting me out of bed.  I love to sleep.”

“The night before tomorrow I plan my day.  You must have a plan to make sure they pay.”

“Whatever it is that you are selling… I will prove to you that you are not really selling those things.”

“What’s your secret?”

“If there is one word I detest is the word secret.  There is no secret.  If there was a secret nobody would be sharing it with you.  There are no secrets.”

“I have tried all the shortcuts to make the fast dollar but I could never do it.”

He was 1 of 42 salesmen on the showroom floor.  Everyone sold on average 5 cars a month, while Joe was selling 6 or more per day!

First you must find the job you love.  Joe says “I never worked a day in my life, I played!”

Never leave because the grass is greener on the other side.  You stay and grow like a tree and the bigger the tree gets, the more money you are going to make.  A lot of times I wanted to quit because of a problem.

But you want to know something? A problem is like a gift from God. It is your opportunity to grow stronger.

Always hang around people that can help you, successful people, people that know about the power of positive thinking.  I never want to talk to somebody unless they have something good to say.

You gotta be like a race horse.  Put on you blinders r before leaving the house so that you don’t have any distractions.  Every move you make needs to be positive.  Stay focused on your life.

A few things that will kill you:

  • Selling a few things on the side
  • Put all your focus and energy on ONE thing and you will rise and soar to the very top
  • Sneaking out to play golf. Be committed –when you eat you eat, when you work you work… do not mingle and mix them up.  Sneaking out of work means you are a loser.

Joe went through the extremes… he used to have a brown bag lunch everyday.  He never had lunch with his employees because he could not sell them anything.  He also would NEVER ever take a 2 1/2 hour lunch.  When you cheat on lunch, you cheat yourself out of success..

Joe says he once failed in business and it was because he did not focus.

How did Joe end up selling cars?

He got on the bus and did not know where to go!  He got off the bus and in front of him was a car dealership.  He walked in, and asked for a job.  The manager said he could not hire him because he had never sold a car before.  Joe said… “just give me a desk and a phone and within 2 months I will beat everyone you have on board.”

What happened then? Joe just started handling the phone but when he walked downstairs at the end of the day… he walked downstairs and there was nobody there.  All the losers had left and now he was alone with the customers.

He sold the first customer that day and the customer said “you know what Joe, I have never seen anyone beg like you.”  Joe was not afraid to get on his hands and knees and beg.

After this Joe said “I am going to climb this mountain with imaginary blinders on to always stay focused.  I don’t care if anyone laughs at me… I will always keep climbing to the top.”

Joe sold cars for 15 years.  In the first 3 years he developed a system that was driving people to his door in droves.  People outside his office were screaming to in into his door and he used to say, “the longer you have to wait… the cheaper it will get for you.

In his last 12 years… if you did not have an appointment you could not get into Joe’s office.  You could not even buy a car from Joe without an appointment!

What is the world’s greatest advertisement in the world?  It is word-of-mouth.  Why did people go to him… because Joe likes you.

“I like to look at people’s lips.  I learn more from people’s lips than from any other part of their body.”

“I am going to show you how to sell something to someone so that they will never forget your name until you are dead.”

How did he become so successful?  He had a burning desire and he always remembered where he had come from and then he just focused.  Take it slow… go easy… plan your work and work the plan.

“I am so organized it is sickening.” 

Joe Girard never had the chance to graduate from high school.  Instead, I graduated from the world’s best university called “Street University.”

When it comes to mailing people… don’t add your company name to the envelope.  What did Joe do?  He just added “I Like You” to the card.  He used to send out 16,000 envelopes a month, each containing two business cards.  Anyone that did or did not buy from him got into his mailing system.

Joe’s first card just said:

  • I like you (on outside)
  • and I wish you a happy new year.
  • Joe Girard

That’s it!  He did not do anything else!

In February

  • I like you
  • and I want to wish you a happy valentines day

Every month he is coming into your house in the mailbox.

  • In March – Happy Saint Patty’s day
  • In April – Happy Easter
  • In May – Happy Mothers Day
  • In June – happy Fathers Day
  • In July – happy 4th of July
  • In August – Send me a customer and I give you $50
    etc… etc…

NOTE: The beauty of his mailing system is that it is so simple!  Every year he had an artist draw up 12 cards and then send them out.  That’s all he did.  Why has no one ever created an auto-responder with simple greeting cards?  Could this be worth testing?  I sure think so!

Customers would move and he’d to get up to 50 envelopes come back.  Instead of ignoring these, he would update his records… nobody could escape him.

Joe Girard: “I will burn my name in your brain.”

Joe’s secret was to get customers to come in the door.  He did not sell customers from the floor.

In his second month, Joe was the #1 sales person in the company.  You know what happened?  His manager called him into his office and said that the other salespeople were complaining that he was stealing customers.  He said that he had to let Joe go.  So, Joe got fired!

Can you believe that?  He got fired because the losers, people that could not perform were complaining.  That’s just crazy!

People ask Joe, how can you keep up and sell so many cars per month?

He started hiring people to assist him.  He ran his office like a doctors office.  He created a well tuned system that would keep him free so that he could do what he could do best.

How did you service so many?

He made a deal with a nice Italian restaurant and treated all of the people in the service department.  The mechanics loved him and took good care of Joe’s customers.  He told his customers that if they every had any problem with their car that he would take care of them right away!  Within 15-20 minutes they could walk into Joe’s office and have 3 mechanics look at their car.

What do you think they would do after this treatment?  They would tell everyone at church, at school, at home that there was nobody else like Joe Girard.

Who can you wine and dine to get to the top?  The name of the game is service, service, service!  Don’t have lunch by yourself or with your co-workers. Who can you have lunch with that can help you get to the top?  Take care of your customers, and they will take care of you.

People are sick and tired of being treated bad.

What is the most important thing a business person should do?  Market yourself!

Give everyone who comes in your card.  You gotta be like a farmer –they throw seeds all over the field.  Even when he paid his bills, he always put two cards inside.

“They call me crazy… sure I am crazy… at least people talk about me.  You gotta be crazy so that people know who you are!”

Everyone started writing about Joe Girard because of his crazy sales strategy.  This stuff works.  Put your card everywhere.

“People buy people.  That’s what people buy.”

Sell yourself and sell yourself the right way.  That’s the game we play.  I want you to be #1.

“I have never sold a car in my life.  I sold Joe Girard.”

The moment we get out of bed we are all salespeople.  We sell people to love us, to trust us, and to buy from us.  And once you have sold someone you have to service your customer.  You know what happens when you sell yourself to your husband and wife and stop selling and servicing?  You end up in divorce.

“People quit selling after they get what they want. So what I am trying to tell you is that the sale begins after the sale.  Anyone can sell something to someone one time.  The key is to get people to come back to you.”

After selling a customer Joe used to say “I am not excited about selling you.  You know what will excite me is if you come back from me a second time.”

Always compliment people on buying from you and compliment them for making a really good choice.

He also always said that you bought two things.  You bought a car and you bough Joe Girard.  Some say you cannot make money in service and I tell them that is crap.  Joe always showed them that he cared and that he loved them.

As soon as he got the sale Joe continued selling.  He would instantly put together another piece of mail that said:

  • I like you
  • Thank you
  • and two business cards

Dear Mr. Customer,
My family and I thank you for buying a car from me.  Remember what I said, if you get a lemon I will turn it into a Peach.

Second strategy.  After I sold you I hired you!  He would send customers a coupon and say, I will pay you $50 if you refer me.  You MUST give them something and show them appreciation.

You know what he used to say? “Where ever you go… I go.”  Joe used to put his business cards into the glove box so that customers could always hand out his cards when they asked where and who they bought the car from.

Three days after a sale, Joe would always get on the phone and talk to customers and ask them how the car was working out for them.  He always reminded them that if they bought a lemon, that he would turn it into a peach. He would also ask for referrals and remind them that he would pay people $50.

He would get 3 leads from making this call!  Every customer that comes in the door with the customer’s name on his card, Joe would pay $50.

NOTE: What if we started calling and thanking every single customer after they bought and asked them how it is working out for them?

“If you don’t promote yourself, nobody else is going to promote you.”

It was his customers that made Joe the #1 sales person.

Whatever happens in your life, you can beat it, you can get back up and climb to the mountain top!  Nobody is going to do nothing for you.  I can guarantee you that.  We are all alone in this world.  And I will prove to you that no one is better than you.

Before I did a sale, I would always disarm people’s fears.  Because everyone is afraid that people want to take money away from them.  Talk to your prospects how you would talk to your mother.  Be sincere… and start a conversation and LISTEN to your customer.  Keep your big mouth shut!

“We have one mouth and two ears… God is trying to tell us something.”

“It is tough to walk away from a good listener.”

And my second power… my face is your mirror and I smile and that gets the prospect smiling.  That’s my second power.

It takes 9 muscles to frown and none to smile.

Everybody has feelings.  You treat people good and they will buy from you and they will love you.  Show them that you cared!  People want to be loved.

The name of the game is treating people good.

Everyday I leave the house I start by looking into the mirror and start off by saying:

  • “I feel good”
  • “I feel great”
  • “I am Number 1”



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