The manufacturer of a well-known make of oil burner asked me to give a talk to his salesmen and see if I could suggest anything to improve their selling technique. I opened my talking with a question: “Can any of you tell me the ten selling points of your oil burner?” No one — not even the sales manager — could oblige. They carried all kinds of literature explaining these ten points in detail, and admitted they had tried to memorize them. Yet frequently they would forget from three to six of them when a customer confronted them.

I asked the sales manager to get his list of sales points and read them through to me once. I knew them cold in five minutes. The Mental Filing System had helped me do in that brief period what the salesmen had been unable to learn in several months.

This is how I hooked the sales points on to the key words so the salesmen could present their argument smoothly and in correct order:

Dependable (alarm clock). Nothing is more dependable than your alarm clock You depend on your alarm clock to keep accurate time and you depend on it to go off at the time set. Good old dependable alarm clock. The oil heater is as dependable as an alarm clock.

Economical (trousers). You keep all your money — all your economic wealth — in your trousers pockets. You have only one pair of trousers because you are economical, and your tailor cut them to be economical with material. They are economical trousers.

Continuous hot water (chair). Hot water runs continuously over the chair. A spigot is attached to the chair, and the water is so hot the chair is continuously bathed in clouds of steam. When you sit on this chair you are in continuous hot water.

Trouble-free (table). There is no trouble to this table at all. You can take it apart and put it together without trouble. It’s a trouble-free table. See a big smiling face painted on the table top. The table is trouble-free, just like the oil burner.

Even temperature (newspaper). The weather report in this newspaper says, “Tomorrow: Even temperature.” See a thermometer lying on the newspaper with the mercury always at 72 degrees, an even temperature.

Clean (automobile). Picture a spotlessly clean white automobile. You are washing the automobile so clean that it shines. The automobile, like the oil burner, is clean.

Safe (policeman). The policeman is the symbol of safety. He is sitting on a safe, keeping things safe for you. He holds up a sign, SAFETY. Or you see the policeman playing baseball and he slides into home plate — he’s safe.

Long life (revolving door). The revolving door is lying on its side, and it looks very long. Inside the revolving door are stacked piles of life-insurance policies printed with large letters LONG LIFE. The revolving door itself is made out of four giant-size red copies of Life magazine.

Compact (mailbox). Your mailbox is very compact. Your open up your mailbox and a cloud of powder envelops you from a lady’s open compact. Your mailbox is packed with compacts.

Attractive (general-delivery window). There are tracks leading up to the general-delivery window. The tracks bring you to an attractive girl sitting in the general-delivery window. You say, “I was attracted to you. I followed your tracks.” Look at her again. Doesn’t she look attractive sitting there in the window?

Of course, knowing these ten sales points is of no practical use to you, but memorizing them in this will be valuable practice. When you come to apply the Mental Filing System to the attributes of your particular product, make your pictures large and as unusual as you possibly can. At the next meeting of salesmen, you will probably be the only one to surprise your sales manager by reeling off all the new sales features without an omission.