I’m in the middle of answering this question from a reader: “I have a personal question for you that may help other subscribers deal with the ups and downs of being in the sales profession. Honestly, how long did it take you to become a “good” salesman?”
In part one I discussed the genetic, environmental and family situations that helped build the foundation for me to become a salesperson. They are at the core of the growth opportunity — and I believe they “set the tone” for answering the age-old question: “Are salesmen born or made?”
The age-old answer is, “both.” And the elements of transformation I have addressed are evidence of that answer.
Here are a few more elements:
• Starting my own business was a pivotal point in the transformation process. At age 23, I made the leap from working for my dad to working for myself. My pay immediately went down. Seems as though I wasn’t paying myself enough, because there wasn’t enough money. I had to sell more. AHA! I could raise my pay by raising my sales.
• The gift of gab. I was always a talker. My first baseball coach told me if my glove were as good as my mouth, I would make the hall of fame. (It wasn’t. Neither was my bat.) But I could always engage others in conversation. In my early days, I talked my way past many sales simply because, after the sale was made, I would not shut up and in some cases would end up buying it back.
• Realizing that “I” was the only salesman I trusted. I realized early on if I didn’t make sales, there were no sales. And the first ones I made were based on the gift of gab combined with the enthusiasm and passion for my business. But there were never enough sales. And I could never understand why.
• Then I learned the science of selling, and my whole world of understanding changed forever. Keep in mind that I learned the science of selling in 1972. All of the superstars in sales taught some form of manipulation. Early in my sales training career, I referred to it as hoodwinking. In essence, it was high-pressure selling that forced people to make a decision they weren’t comfortable with. But it was new to me, and I loved it. I realized that if I could combine the gift of gab with the science of selling, then I could get great at it. All I needed was the right product — one that I believed in.
• Achieving a positive attitude — AHA! In the middle of my early sales training, there was also positive attitude training. I listened to records and watched movies from people like Glenn W. Turner, Zig Ziglar and Earl Nightingale. In 1972, cassette tapes became available, and you could listen to recorded messages in your car. I listened to them over and over and over. By 1973, I had achieved an “internal” positive attitude, which I still have today. By 1974, I was a lethal selling weapon with the gift of gab and a positive attitude. Nothing could stop me — except myself.
EUREKA! In 1974, I began to manufacture and sell imprinted sportswear — t-shirts. I loved t-shirts. And off I went to New York City to make big sales. People caught my enthusiasm, and bought my t-shirts. Hundreds of thousands of them.
Selling in New York City is easily the toughest place in the country to sell. The song should have said, “If you can sell it there, you can sell it anywhere.” I learned more about real world selling in two years than most people would in a lifetime.
Cold calling in New York City must be done on the phone these days because of building security. But back in the 1970s you could get into anyplace you wanted, just by walking in. I had a hundred doors slammed in my face, but I also made a ton of huge sales. All by just walking in the door.
Doing business in New York City is triple hard. You have to get in, you have to make the sale and you have to collect your money. There were several cases where I only did two out of three.
There you have some more elements of growth mastery.
How do they match with yours?
More next week. Stay tuned…
GitBit: This is part two of a three-part column. You may have missed part one. But you’re in luck! All three parts will be posted on my Web site, www.gitomer.com, for 30 days following publication of the third part. Or, to view the column in full, you can enter the words GITGOOD in the GitBit box on my Web site.
Jeffrey Gitomer, author of “The Sales Bible,” and “Customer Satisfaction is Worthless, Customer Loyalty is Priceless,” is president of Charlotte-based Buy Gitomer. He gives seminars, runs annual sales meetings and conducts training programs on selling and customer service. He can be reached at (704) 333-1112 or e-mail