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Can anybody turn themselves into a great salesperson? Let's see.
Back in the late eighties, Tom Bagby was just another burned out, mid-career executive within the Bell System. He had spent his entire career at the phone company, always in some administrative job. Aside from a short stint on the management side, he had never worked in sales or marketing.
Tom shocked his family and friends when, in his early forties, he told them he wanted to try his hand at an entrepreneurial sales career. He looked at several options, including Amway and some of the other big network marketers. He considered many fine companies, but finally settled on SynCom, one of the new long-distance telephone companies. Tom signs up customers who want lower long-distance rates, but mostly he "sells opportunity." He gets other people involved as SynCom sales representatives, who in turn sign up others. With each successive rep who signs on, Tom earns benefits.
Just six or seven years after he left the ranks of middle management, Tom is perhaps the most outstanding network marketer in the nation. He has somewhere between 12,000 and 14,000 people in his network--customers and reps he has signed up, plus those in succeeding levels. Without disclosing figures, he admits to making "a fortune" each year.
SynCom has tried several times to entice him to come "inside" onto its corporate staff. Tom politely declines. He makes much more money, and gets much more satisfaction, out of being a salesperson.
"Corporate life is for the timid," he says. "The entrepreneurial life is for those bold enough to live their dreams."
I've gottento know Tom since he became a success. I'm proud to say that many of his attitudes and techniques are the same ones I recommend to all beginners. In this chapter and the next, we'll look at some of those.
Step One: At You, Inc., You're an Entrepreneur, Not an Employee
There are probably 50 million salespeople in America. Maybe more. In a way, everyone, no matter what they do, is selling some kind of product or service. Even the president of the United States has to sell the voters on electing him! David D'Arcangelo, author of Wealth Starts at Home, estimates that tens of millions of Americans are starting home-based businesses based on sales. (No wonder, too. Home-based businesses cost much less to start and have a higher success rate than many traditional businesses.) In an economy based more and more on downsized, self-employed, commission-based entrepreneurial effort, everyone will be a salesperson someday. But I believe that 90 percent of all salespeople sell themselves short in their quest for success.
How? They burden themselves with the mentality of an employee. They go to work at a certain time, they leave at a certain time. They let the boss supply the phones and computers and marketing materials. They may even work for a fixed salary. That's totally contrary to the essence of a sales career. In sales, the more you sell, the more you make. That's the great thing about sales. It lets us--the salespeople--determine just how successful we want to be.
Many of these passive salespeople believe that they can sell anything. They may say, "You just get the customers in the door and I'll do the rest." You hear salespeople voice this attitude in car dealerships, clothing stores, stock brokerages, and insurance offices. It is so misguided. It is guaranteed to keep a salesperson stuck in the lower ranks of the profession.
The first step in turning yourself into a top-ranked sales professional is to think like an entrepreneur. An entrepreneur is one who sets his or her own goals--and then finds the means to achieve them. An entrepreneur is an independent contractor, even if he or she works for a large organization like a department store or car dealership.
Being an entrepreneur means that you make the majority of the decisions that shape your working day. You create and maintain your own database of clients. You invest in your own technology, from a cellular phone to a computer. You create your own marketing materials--even if they're as simple as thank-you cards that you send to customers.
Being an entrepreneur means you set your own financial goals. These goals are independent of whatever quota your boss sets. These goals represent where you want to be in a year's time, in five years, in ten years. They can involve specific purchases you want to make, like a new house or car, or include a target date for your retirement. Your job becomes a way to fund these dreams.
This basic attitude may be the most important thing I talk about in this book. If you get nothing else right, get this right. Think like an entrepreneur, not an employee. What you need to realize is that you are a business all unto yourself. You're a little corporation. It's You, Inc. You can make it do whatever you want it to do. It can be as small or as large as you want. This remains true even if you work for somebody else. The true salesperson knows that he or she operates as an independent contractor--and that gives them the right to take their success to whatever level they want.
Walk Like A Giant, Sell Like A Madman. Copyright � by Ralph Roberts. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.