Joe Girard’s Rule of 52

Joe Girard (a man I’ve talked about before) is, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, the world’s greatest salesman. During the 60s and 70s, he sold something like 13,000 cars, and broke national sales records for 12 years in a row.

One of his essential techniques is the Rule of 52, which essentially means this:

The average number of people at a wedding or a funeral is around 52. The average person knows around 52 people on a reasonably close, first-name basis.

This means that every person to whom you sell something, or impress, or upset, has reasonable, direct access to approximately 52 people to inform regarding their experience with you.

If you’re wondering, the Rule of 52 was developed before the advent of social media. You and I know many people who have literally thousands of Facebook “friends”. It’s true that studies have shown that even these people probably only actually “know” less than 200 of those thousands. However, that doesn’t mean that a post on Facebook won’t go to many of those thousands of people regardless.

The corollary to the Rule of 52 is the Rule of 32, which applies to business people. This rule states that business owners know approximately 32 other business people of their rough equivalent status. When you sell a product or service to a business owner, that person could theoretically tell about 32 equivalent quality prospects all about it. (And again, this 32 is before things like LinkedIn.)

The point here is that you should never, ever view a single sales transaction as simply a sale to one person. It’s a “sale”, in a way, to between 32 and 52 (or more!) other people. There are plenty of hugely successful small business owners and salespeople who do nothing but stimulate referral business from those they close.

No reason you can’t do the same thing.

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