The Secret Behind World’s Greatest Salesman

Sep 22, 2023


The Secret Behind World’s Greatest Salesman

Joe Girard is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as “the world’s greatest salesman.” He’s sold more retails big ticket items, one at a time, than any other salesperson in recorded history.

Was he selling some amazing new technology that everyone had to have? No. Was he selling to the mega rich? Wrong again.

He sold ordinary cars to ordinary people. Between 1963 and 1978, he sold over 13,000 cars at a Chevrolet dealership. His stats are amazing:

In total, he sold 13,001 cars. That’s an average of six cars per day.

·      On his best day, he sold 18 vehicles.

·      On his best month, he sold 174.

·      In his best year, he sold 1,425.

Joe Girard sold more cars by himself than 95 percent of all the dealerships in North America.

To make his feat even more incredible, he sold them at retail—one vehicle at a time. No bulk fleet deals. So what was the secret to Joe’s success?

He lists several including working hard and being likeable. Without discounting these factors, I’m sure there were thousands of salesmen at that time who had those admirable qualities, but they didn’t sell a fraction of the volume that Joe did.

One of the stand out things that Joe did was to constantly keep in touch with his customers.

He sent a personalized greeting card every month to his entire list of customers. In January, it would be a Happy New Year card and inside it would say, “I like you.” He would then sign his name and stamp it with the details of the dealership where he worked. In February, his list might get a Valentine’s Day card. Again inside the message was the same, “I like you.”


He would vary the size and color of the envelope and each was hand-addressed and stamped. This was critical to getting past the postal mail equivalent of spam filters, where people stand over the trash can and discard all the items that look like ads, scams, credit card offers and other types of junk mail.

He wanted his customers to open his envelope, see his name and the positive message inside and feel good. He did this month after month, year after year in the knowledge that they would eventually need a new car.

And when they did, who do you think would have been top of their minds?

By the end of his career, he was sending out 13,000 cards per month and needed to hire an assistant to help him. By the time he was a decade into his career, almost two-thirds of his sales were to repeat customers.


It got to the point where customers had to set appointments in advance to come in and buy from him. Contrast that with other car salespeople who just stood around waiting and hoping for walk-in traffic.