I’m at the final chapter of answering this e-mail 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. Part two was the evolution of my selling skills. It’s interesting that as my skills as a salesman got better, my need to use them diminished. Once I began building relationships, and delivering value, people bought. Part three was the beginning of my emergence through speaking and writing. This final part details the “big picture” elements of success.
Most salespeople, and most entrepreneurs, get bogged down in wallet-size issues. Their failure to see the big picture prevents them from hitting the big time. Below are strategic big-picture elements that must be mastered in order to make the wallet size pictures visible:
Book or business card?
I’ve always had a cool business card. Either the design, or my title — there’s been something that set me apart from the others. For the last eight years I have used a coin. But in November of 1994, everything changed. My business card plays a secondary role as an introduction tool to my book. Every time a new one comes out (and there have been five), I bring autographed copies with me on a sales call and give them out to all those in attendance. I don’t just autograph them. I personalize them. The recipients are always grateful, thankful, impressed and happy.
Remaining a student
Because I’m constantly writing and speaking, by definition I’m constantly learning. Fortunately, I “knew everything” before the age of 21. It wasn’t until 22 that I realized how stupid I was and that I needed to study more. My goal at 22 was very simple: learn something new every day. That has been a subconscious focus of mine for 37 years.
Succeeding and failing
I was taught early on by my father, Max, the philosophy: “Son, if you want to succeed in business, you have to fail a few times.” At first I didn’t get it. Better stated, I began to get it after I failed the first time, and really got it after I failed the second time. Those failures, coupled with my positive attitude towards them, have led me to success.
Attracting mentors and finding role models
All along my road to success I have always sought out, and taken, the advice of wise people who have already succeeded. Remaining a student is not only a book-oriented process. If you seek to become successful, then it’s evident that you must study the success of others. To this day, mentors have made a significant contribution to my understanding of what I need to do to continue to grow. Quick Tip: Looking for a mentor? All you have to do is earn the respect of one, and presto.
Loving myself and my family
I don’t have “bad days.” Partially because I love what I do, but mostly because I’m enthusiastic about what I can become. Pride of accomplishment combined with a continuous desire to achieve has created within me a permanent smile. I drive myself to excellence, but I love myself while I’m doing it.
My parents are gone. My brother is my only sibling. My three daughters, their husbands and my three granddaughters make up the rest of my immediate family. I try to call them all every day. They know that I love them, that I support them and that
I’m there for them in every way. I neither argue with them nor pass judgment on them. I am open with them. I try to ask questions rather than make statements. The combination of those actions creates love. And I tell them all that I love them every chance that I get.
Selling everyday (The .5)
There’s an element that keeps me growing. Personal development gurus might call it staying focused. I don’t. I think focus is automatic when you’re doing what you love. My secret weapon is staying sharp. I don’t mean “sharpening my saw” sharp, I mean scalpel sharp. Alert, open, looking for opportunity, and communicating value to everyone I come into contact with.
Oh yeah, I try to make a sale every day. Not consciously, but when it occurs I know it. I smile to myself and move on. Keep in mind the immortal words of my mentor Mel Green, “Hard work makes luck.” Good luck.
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