From Sad Salesman to Soaring Success
Your Career Trajectory Can Change. Just. Like. That.
I started my sales career right out of college, with Mutual of New York. I lasted 3 months, and we parted ways. I hated selling. Because naturally, I am not a pushy and aggressive person. In fact, I’m quite the opposite and tend to keep more to myself (or what you might call, an introvert). At the time, I felt that if I wanted to be a salesperson, I had to be pushy and aggressive to succeed. Unfortunately, sales people are labeled this way so often.
Well, being married and having to support a family, my next stop was selling Lipton Tea in Jackson, Tennessee. I had great teammates and a terrific boss, but as an introvert, I could not bring myself to get out of the car and call on customers. I’m serious. Sometimes, I would just sit in the parking lot for an hour trying to build up the courage to go in ask for an order of Lipton’s great products.
After 9 months, I realize, I am no sales person. This ain’t for me. I cannot be this person, these not-myself characteristics.
So, I did the only other thing I knew. I coached football and taught English with my dream of making it into coaching college football. I found an opportunity to do that, but I was rejected when I applied to graduate school; I barely got out of VMI with my 2.18 GPA. At that point, I had to find work. My resume said “selling” even though I hated the thought of it. I was desperate, though. As many of us are at some point in our lives.
When You’re Forced Out of Your Comfort Zone
During my desperation, my college roommate called and asked if I wanted a job in Pharmaceutical Sales. I thought, well THAT I can do because it’s more like PR. I was wrong. It was selling.
For 6 years, I was a sales rep. I was pretty good at it too, for a couple reasons: I had a great boss who encouraged me to just be me, and I worked hard because if I failed at this, I was (pardon my french) screwed. That said, I never was comfortable doing it, not one single day. Don’t get me wrong; I built some relationships with 15 of my customers, and being with them was not uncomfortable. I felt I could be myself, and that’s all they wanted me to do. And they carried me.
Next thing I knew, they made me a sales manager, and that was the big turning point in my life: moving up from being a sales rep with mediocre skills to becoming a sales and sales coaching expert. I had to truly learn Selling in a comprehensive way to be able to teach it. And then lightning struck.
Listen, Absorb, Succeed
Something hit me when I read a book called, “Winning Strategies in Selling” by Jack Kinder. It was 50% responsible for changing my life.
The book quotes Charlie “Tremendous” Jones when he said, “Chances are, you’ll be the same person 5 years from today that you are today with the exception of 2 things: the people you meet and the books you read. And the person who won’t read is truly no better off than the person who can’t read.” That threw me into a reading frenzy on selling, and I became knowledgeable enough to be considered an expert. But that wasn’t the only thing I did to become a sales expert..
The real impact that catapulted me to becoming a world-recognized sales expert and best-selling author, though, came from the people I met. It came from my valuable business contacts–my bosses, my sales reps, my fellow district managers, my sales rep friends from other companies, my customers, my competitors. I tried to learn all I could from every one of them, and I was eager to share with them what I was learning. So, what they taught me was the other 50%.
A Combination for Success
The combination of my network; being a lifelong learner; and a student of selling, leadership, and human behavior is what turned me into a sales expert. The greatest of these was that network. I realized long ago that I would be far less successful if it weren’t for my network.
How powerful is your business network? Do you have important people who won’t see you or are difficult to see? Do you have important people that you don’t naturally connect with but you wish you could? I can show you how to break that barrier within yourself to connect with those outside of yourself.
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If you want to go from where you are to sustained greatness, then take some action. Be incredible.