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ZIGLAR ON SELLING
By Zig Ziglar
THOMAS NELSON PUBLISHERSCopyright © 2007 Zig Ziglar
All right reserved.
Chapter OneYou Made the Right Choice
A Career in the World's Oldest Profession
When the prospect reacted to the door-to-door Bible salesman's request to buy with "I'm broke," the salesman had a pretty fair response. Extending the Bible, he responded, "Would you put your hand right here and repeat that?"
Selling can be and should be fun, so let's make it clear from the beginning that a sense of humor combined with self-esteem that allows you to laugh at yourself will play a significant part in your success in your chosen profession. How I wish someone had made that fact clear to me when I got my start. Laughing more often and feeling better about myself would have prevented many of the bruises to my fragile ego during those difficult days early in my career when I was trying so desperately hard to survive.
IN THE BEGINNING
I made my first sales call in 1947. After borrowing $50 (a considerable sum of money in those days) to buy a new $22 suit, a new dress shirt, a briefcase, and a hat (all professional salespeople wore hats in the late forties), I was prepared to enter the wonderful world of selling!
My mission was to seek out users of my product line to act as "centers of influence" for "referrals." I didn't really know what that meant except to say that if people were currently using my product, they might be able to direct me to someone else who would want to use it. Much to my great pleasure and eternal gratitude, the Redhead (my wife, Jean) agreed to come along.
After driving for a considerable length of time to find the "right" neighborhood, with fear and trembling I knocked on my first door. The weather was brutally hot that July day in Columbia, South Carolina, but I would have been sweating profusely even without nature's help. A grandmotherly looking lady who would have to rate among the top two or three least frightening or intimidating figures on earth came to the door. She smiled sweetly and acknowledged my presence. I started my "canned" (not planned) presentation and got out almost an entire sentence before I froze. Nothing would come out of my mouth. After about three hours (three seconds can seem like three hours in this situation), this dear, kind lady gently asked me if I would like a drink of water. I managed to nod my head in gratitude, and she invited me in.
I did eventually find out that she was not a current owner of our product, so rather than encourage her to become one or ask if she knew anyone who might be interested, I did the only sensible thing. I rushed back to the car and my waiting wife. Obviously, this was the wrong neighborhood!
Over the next ten days, poor self-esteem, fear of rejection, lack of confidence, and mediocre work habits led to experiences that were not a great deal more successful.
It didn't take long to reach the end of my financial rope, and my courage bucket soon went "bone dry." I was knocking on doors one hot August day on Adelia Drive, and as I looked down a particularly long block that ended the street, I said to myself, "Self, if we don't get into a house before the end of this block to at least make a presentation, I quit!"
I had been through too many days of not even being able to tell my story to get turned down for the sale.
MY FUTURE-OTHERS' HANDS
In 1947 the overwhelming majority of wives were at home, so my chances for making a presentation seemed pretty good on a long block like this one. Logically, I knew that putting my destiny in other people's hands by determining to continue or quit in this way was not an overly bright decision. But emotionally, I knew that continuing to have doors closed in my face was unbearable. Regardless of who we are or what we do, everyone needs what psychologists call "accomplishment feedback"-some success, no matter how small-and I was yet to experience even the slightest hint of getting close to any form of success. The trend continued until only two houses were left.
The next to last home, I learned, belonged to a widow, Mrs. B. C. Dickert. I gave her my presentation at the door, and she told me to go next door to see her brother and his wife, Mr. and Mrs. J. O. Freeman. Those were the first words of hope I had heard in several days. I literally ran next door and enthusiastically told Mrs. Freeman what her sister-in-law had said and that Mrs. Dickert would like to be included if I could come back for a presentation. I got the appointment to come back for a presentation after dinner when Mr. Freeman would be home.
Later that evening, with cotton in my mouth and fear in my heart, I made my first sale: product #541 priced at $61.45! I finished writing the order and completely forgot Mrs. Dickert was sitting there. Finally, Mr. Freeman said, "Mr. Ziglar, I believe Mrs. Dickert is interested, too." With all the aplomb of a true professional, I blurted out, "What about it, Mrs. Dickert?" (Smooth, huh?) She said, "Well, I don't have my money with me." Again with considerable tact and diplomacy I said, "Well, shoot, you just live next door. Run get it!" Mrs. Dickert smiled and said, "Well, I think I will." Two sales-I couldn't believe my good fortune!
The Redhead and I bought a quart of ice cream to celebrate, and to the best of my recollection, there was none left the next day.
I decided to stay in the business of selling.
WHAT ABOUT YOU?
As we get under way in our journey through Ziglar on Selling, I would like to begin in a somewhat unusual manner. Let me encourage you to leave the sales profession if you can. Yes, you read it properly. Zig Ziglar is encouraging you to quit selling-if you can. Those last three words are the most important words you can face at this point in your sales career: if you can. Those who get into sales because they might make a little more money or might even help other people are "short-termers." You need to get into selling because your heart and your head won't allow you to do anything else!
In sales, you will be treated rudely. People will, on occasion, even slam doors in your face. They will hang up on you for no obvious reason. Some will avoid you at social gatherings. Your family (and even you) will question your sanity. You will see people whispering and know they are talking about you and your new profession. People in restaurants will laugh, and you will be sure they are discussing your last presentation.
As humorist and speaker Dr. Charles Jarvis says, "Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you!" Yes, paranoia can be a side effect of the sales profession.
GET OUT OR GET IN
My good friend Walter Hailey is one of the most successful men in the world. I talked about his ability to find the good in people and situations in my book See You at the Top. In addition to being a "good-finder," Walter is a salesman par excellence (that means he's gooood!) and a winner who has spent his life helping others win.
Despite Walter's success, he had a rocky start in the world of selling. He faced frustration, anxiety, closed doors, low sales, nervous stomach, and virtually every other symptom associated with an individual who is uncertain of his future and how he is going to survive in the sales world. As a matter of fact, his discouragement was so bad, Walter went to his manager and told him he was quitting, getting out of the business. To this his manager responded, "You can't."
Walter dogmatically stated that he was quitting. The manager again told him, "You can't quit." By now Walter was getting a little hot under the collar, and he stated very firmly, "Well, I am going to quit!" To this his manager replied, "Walter, you can't get out of the insurance business because you have never really gotten into the insurance business."
Walter said the words hit him like the proverbial "ton of bricks." As he reflected on the truth of what his manager said, he realized for possibly the first time in his life that you cannot get out of something you have never been in. There are many people who "join" a sales organization but never get in the business of selling.
WHY NOT GET IN THE BUSINESS? One reason new salespeople never get "in the business" has to do with the information they receive. Are new salespeople told the truth about the job? A resounding "No!" was the answer, according to an article entitled "Shell-Shocked on the Battle Field of Selling" in the July 1990 edition of Sales and Marketing Management magazine in which senior editor Arthur Brigg interviewed a large number of salespeople in their first year of selling.
The respondents reported their early days in the field were more rigorous than they ever imagined and were filled with surprises they weren't prepared to handle. If you will permit an observation from someone who has been in their position as a new salesperson and who has hired and trained countless salespeople, ill-informed and ill-prepared salespeople are the rule rather than the exception.
Poor information and poor preparation may have always been the case, and that may never change. But you can do a few things to minimize the shock.
NO FREE LUNCH
First: Realize that the majority of highly paid veterans in sales (or in any field) are hard workers. Look around and interview the top performers; ask them specifically about their work ethic. I have been present where the more the hiring managers reinforced the rigorous requirements, the more the candidates ignored the facts and assured the managers they could handle the job. They selectively listened and "heard" what they wanted to hear. Later, when their prospects did the same thing and complained that the salespeople hadn't "told them," the salespeople were amazed and even angered. Solution: Listen well to the entire message, not just the "benefits" portion.
The best-paying hard work in the world is selling, and the poorest-paying easy work in the world is selling!
Second: Remember, if you apply yourself to the job and absorb the training offered, your productivity will go up, and your stress and fatigue levels will go down. In your early days, you may be overwhelmed by the amount of time required for the job and the number of details you must manage. I recommend that you adopt a time management and productivity system along with the training required to understand and use the system (discussed in Chapter 15: "Organization and Discipline").
Third: Work to stay current with the all-important, ever-changing areas of product knowledge and communication skills. Understanding your product and knowing how to communicate that knowledge give a great sense of security in any selling situation. You will want to constantly study the product and any improvements made to it. Some product lines are so large and complex you will need to study daily to keep "up to speed." This is the information age, so take full advantage of your communication technology to stay ahead of the competition.
Important: When your technical knowledge is exhausted, feel free to say, "I don't know." Your company can provide the technical support you need, and you can become an authority on the subject for next time.
Please understand that you may have been presenting your product or service for years and still not have been "in the profession" of selling. "How can you tell when you are in the business?" you ask. Answer: When the profession is in you so completely that you can't get out of sales.
Lack of commitment is a primary reason that the sales profession has earned the reputation of having a high turnover rate. Fortunately this is changing, and the public is rapidly gaining respect for the true sales professional. Training methods are improving, and selling is attracting a higher caliber of recruit today than ever before. The benefits for joining the greatest profession in the world are growing on an almost daily basis.
Now I know you appreciate that last sentence-a completely unbiased statement from a man who is proud to say he has been a salesman all his life. I have a deep love for the sales profession and the selling professional, a sincere belief in the value of our profession, and an unquenchable thirst for knowledge about becoming even more professional.
JOURNEY TO SALES SUCCESS
My sales career didn't begin in 1947. That was my first "official" sales call. It actually started in childhood when I sold vegetables on the streets of Yazoo City, Mississippi. I also had a paper route, and early in my sales career, it was my good fortune to work in a grocery store for several years.
At the University of South Carolina, I sold sandwiches at the dormitory in the evening to finance my marriage and education. I later moved into direct sales that have included stints in the securities business, life insurance, and home care products. I entered the world of personal growth and corporate development in 1964 and have been selling training and motivation since then.
Obviously, your experiences are not going to be exactly like mine. I would venture to guess that not many of you will take your spouse with you on sales calls. You will probably not be selling sandwiches in a dormitory, and you will probably ride more elevators than knock on doors. But before you discount these experiences, let me remind you that we are both on a pilgrimage. You and I are working together, and to repeat what I said in the "Introduction," our challenge is to learn from the past without living there, live and grow in the present, and look to the future with hope and optimism. Rarely a day goes by that I do not learn something new to help me become an even more effective sales professional. Come with me and learn with me on this journey.
THE BENEFITS ARE FOR YOU!
As you enter professional sales (whether this is your first experience or you are rededicating yourself to a new level of professionalism), you must stop to realize that choosing to be a sales professional is a daily task. As a matter of fact, let me encourage you to make this first entry on your "to do" list: "Today I will be a successful sales professional, and I will learn something today that will make me even more professional tomorrow." If you will begin each day with this commitment to our great profession, there are many benefits that await you, the successful sales professional! Best of all, this procedure helps you make certain your tomorrows are better than your yesterdays.
One of the many great things about our profession is that you are truly your own boss. You are in business, as the saying goes, "for yourself but not by yourself." When you stand in front of the mirror each morning, you can look yourself right in the eye and say, "My goodness, you're such a nice, efficient, effective, hardworking, and professional person-you deserve a raise!" and the board just met. I might add that the raise will become effective as soon as you do.
The reality is that as a salesperson you are the chairman of the board, the general sales manager, the chief financial officer, the executive vice president; and yes, you're the janitor, chief cook, and bottle washer. In short, with the independence of being your own boss comes a tremendous responsibility, and this is the exciting part of the profession! Opportunity is born of independence handled in a responsible manner, and in the sales profession, your opportunities are unparalleled.
Although it's true that you do have to be versatile, strong-willed, organized, disciplined, enthusiastic, motivated, and possess a great attitude, these characteristics fall into place for the professional salesperson who has the most important characteristics of them all-the servant's heart, a humble spirit, and a willingness to grow.
Excerpted from ZIGLAR ON SELLING by Zig Ziglar Copyright © 2007 by Zig Ziglar. Excerpted by permission.
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