Sales Trainer to Building Trade Contractors
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Keep reading if you want to hear about how I got into this business.
I've pretty much always been in sales.
But it took me a while to really figure it out.
In high school, I worked a few hours every afternoon at Red Oaks Mills Hardware. When the weather was nice, I'd ride my green 1974 Honda CB 360 the ten miles or so from school to the store and put in a few hours stocking shelves or assembling wheelbarrows and grills.
Saturday was the busy day, and I was expected to work all of them. That put a crimp in my social life, but I didn't mind too much. I loved that job.
In college I worked for a bigger hardware store called Davies Hardware. They had more contractor clients and I needed to be more knowledgeable. I realized that, in order to sell them something, I needed to talk their talk. That was a great job too.
I heard that Davies, which had opened their doors in 1888, recently succumbed to the relentless march of Home Depot and that crowd. When I heard the news, I practically cried. Luckily, the rumor I heard was wrong and Davies continues to this day!
My next stop - after college - was "selling" medical equipment. The company, Cambridge Medical Instruments, was the company that invented the EKG machine - more commonly called and ECG here in the US.
I used quotation marks around the word selling because I never actually sold a single EKG machine.
My sales training consisted of a half-day spent with one of the sales guys in New York, and really what we did was deliver and set up a machine that he'd already sold. He needed my help humping the machine out of his van and into the building.
They sent me to North Carolina to open a new territory with zero training, zero experience, zero knowledge. There was no lead generation program in place, so I spent my time riding around North and South Carolina randomly calling on doctors, just hoping someone would happen to be interested in buying an EKG machine.
I didn't know what else to do.
It was completely frustrating. I look back at that time now to remind myself about what NOT to do.
Anyway, after a few months - in fact, it was first thing in the morning on September 16, 1986 - they called and asked me to bring the company car back to New York.
"Am I fired?" I asked.
"Well, no...." they replied, "but the company is bankrupt, so you're out of a job anyway."
My next job was better. I was a sales rep for an insurance company. Although we were called sales reps, it wasn't REALLY a sales job. We were expected to drive around the countryside calling on insurance brokers and encouraging them to sell our products rather than those of our hated competitors.
But they were soft prospects. Most brokers knew that a good rep could help them make money. So their doors were half-open. I can count on one hand the number of times I was rejected when I finally did get a broker on the phone.
A sales job without rejection? Unheard of. That's why I say it wasn't REALLY a sales job.
Still, I had good training a lot of success in that job. I learned a lot in the 12 years or so that I was a rep. The big lessons I learned about selling were:
- Know your stuff
- Be responsive
- Make it as easy as possible for the client.
In 1998, I hung out my own shingle as an employee benefits broker and, thereby, became a business owner. Even though I thought I had planned everything pretty well, like so many first-timers I had not answered the single most critical question that every business must answer… “How will I get clients?”
After beating my head against the wall for six agonizing months – mainly making cold telephone calls – I managed to get my first client. A very small one. And, although I was happy to have this client, I realized that wasting another six months to get a second small client was not a path to great success.
This was too much like the medical instruments job... something had to change.
A chance encounter introduced me to marketing legend Dan Kennedy, direct response advertising, and a very different way of approaching sales and marketing. I was fascinated. I spent the next ten years – and over $100,000.00 of my own money – buying books and courses, attending seminars across the country, participating in mastermind groups, and subscribing to (and reading) newsletters and publications to learn the secrets of persuasion and to become a highly skilled expert in the ‘dark arts’ of marketing and selling.
I used these concepts to formulate and refine my own sales system, which I used to build my business. The primary goal I had in developing my sales methods was that I did NOT want to use hard-nosed sales techniques. I'd been subjected to too many so-called sales trainers who were advocating these methods. I wanted a sales process that I was 100% comfortable with, so that's what I built.
My methods worked. The thing that has been most satisfying to me is the realization that I could reach the uppermost tier of the selling profession without ever using high-pressure sales tactics.
During the time that I had my employee benefits firm, I started this business, helping reputable business owners implement my sales growth system to sell more of whatever they're selling. Maybe because I liked the hardware business so much, I gravitated to working with building trade contractors first, but my strategies and methods work in nearly any industry.
The core belief that has been instrumental in driving my success – and the core belief that I teach to everyone who will listen – is to structure every part of your business to serve your clients exceptionally well. And this belief is the basis of the marketing and selling systems that I teach to business owners today.
I firmly believe that, if you don’t care enough to provide superior service and results in order to delight and astonish your clients, then using my phenomenally effective marketing and selling strategies will only reduce the time it takes for everyone to find out that you’re no good.
My #1 rule: Cherish your clients.
I’m lucky… I have attained my goal of leading a life of personal freedom. My mission now is to teach other business owners how to attain the same for themselves.
I hope I’ll get to help you reach this level.