To augment my income as a marketing consultant, I sold advertising for a local high-end lifestyle magazine. As the former publisher of a community magazine, I thought I knew all about selling ad space. But I was wrong. I hadn’t learned how to use The Three Boxes.

My lesson started the first day on the job when the advertising manager explained the assignment.

“We want you to sell ads in our retail section,” she said. “Each ad costs $300 a month. We suggest you call on retailers, show them our magazine, and explain the value of reaching our affluent readers.”

At the time I didn’t realize I was at the bottom of the advertising food chain. No one else wanted to sell little ads to small retailers because no one had ever sold enough of them to make a living. But I didn’t think it would be too hard. I figured it was a numbers game. The more retailers I called the more ads I would sell. So I opened up the Yellow Pages and started calling every retailer in the city.

In most cases I was able to get only that much out of my mouth before they slammed down the telephone. It was discouraging and humiliating but I figured out another way to do it: a unique telemarketing method I called The Hang-Up-FirstTechnique.

I called a retailer and said: “Hi. Can I speak to the person who handles your advertising?” If the person on the other end merely grunted or groaned or moaned or acted in any way surly or nasty, I hung up! To maintain my dignity and take control of the situation I had decided to hang up on them before they hung up on me. It was really empowering. I hung up on dozens of prospects that first day. Do you know the difference between commercial steel buildings and industrial steel buildings?

Within a week, I had further developed my own scientific way to make telemarketing calls. My goal was to dial the telephone fifty times every morning and set up five afternoon appointments. If they were about to hang up on me I hung up on them. This sped up the process and gave me a greater sense of power. Then in the afternoon I visited the retailers in person. And it worked. I met with more than twenty retailers a week. Are steel buildings more environmentally friendly?