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My Beginnings in Sales
Rewind back to the 90s. Sixteen years old and I thought that the world was mine, although I was a shy little guy, I dreamed of ambitions that other teenagers had not even begun to conceive in their minds. I believe that my recognition for my skill in sales was when I ran a booth at a fund raiser that was set up to raise money for a friend that was in a terrible accident.
I wanted to help him, as he was my best friend in the world. Others had volunteered, but I was the only one that showed that morning. I ended up running three booths instead of one.
I recall working my tail off that morning and raising money all on my own, as my friend's poor mother ran the food stand, also on her own. We didn't raise enough money to pay for much, but it was something, and I was extremely proud of myself.
At the end of the day, the manager of the Wal-Mart where we had set up our fundraiser came out and asked if I wanted a job. He had seen me work my tail off and thought that I had great work ethic.
This was not my first job, mind you. My first job was actually as a mop/sweep boy at a local veterinary hospital, but we won't get into that.
My father had always taught me that hard work was the key to success, and he was partly right. However, the true key to success is not just pure hard work. It is a combination of working smart, working hard, successes, disappointments, recognition, high stress, low stress, being invisible at times and so much more. In the end, it can be extremely rewarding.
So, if you are a young aspiring sales person, or even a seasoned one at that, follow me and let's sell until our dreams come true.
Fast forward into my early twenties. I started college in Houston, TX with high hopes of going into the music industry. I was going to be either a rock star, or an attorney to the rock stars. As most people with a college degree have found, those dreams are usually, well, just dreams. Life gets in the way, and with life come other hurdles.
I would recommend for anyone and everyone to go to college. Always go to college. If anything, take some business classes at a local community college to have at least the basic understanding of how a business works. In some cases, it may not be necessary, however, it helps greatly. Common sense is also a big part of sales and along with it, one thing that is most important to me, is ethics. Without ethics, the world of sales can come crashing down on a person like a ton of bricks. If one has no ethics, well, then there is not much of a place elsewhere to go except down. Always keep your head up, and never step over anyone's head to get ahead. Once I begin to post more entries, I will go further into detail about ethics, college, lack of college and how to get started.
The bench in the image is a bench that my father made with his own hands. He had the hopes to sell them, but he did not succeed. It's not because he did not have admirers of his work, but because he did not market it, or advertise it enough for people with the right amount of money and want to purchase it. Only two were made. One sits in a doctor's office, and the other is proudly displayed in my home.
That bench is a symbol of both, success, and failure. Which ultimately, is what sales is.
When selling, what is it that you are most worried about?
My First Sales Job and Beyond
Prior to having my first sales job, I worked in the restaurant and bar business. Believe it or not, there are a lot of sales techniques that one must use in that business. I acquired some of this knowledge in that field, and I continue to use it to this day. Another believe it or not: Some of my sales techniques, and my ethics came from Wal-Mart prior to Sam Walton's death. The days before customer satisfaction went out the door.
My first sales job was with a company in Houston, TX. This company was a fire, water, and trauma remediation company. Your house floods or catches fire? We let the plumbers and the fire department do their job, and then we go in and restore the home or business to its prior state, or better. Trauma cases were an entire different animal. I will explain more about this type of business as well later on. Ethics were not their main concern. Needless to say, that business closed a few years after I left.
As terrible of a time that I had working for this company, it was my foot in the door into the sales world. With only an Associate in Business, my options were not exactly raining on me, so to speak. I did end up with a company vehicle, an expense account, and I worked very hard. My competition was brutal to say the least. It was not a place for me to be. The lack of ethics behind this type of business kept me from sleeping at night, even though I somehow managed to do nothing wrong. This was the reason that "I left". By that, I mean that I was fired. I was given a severance package of a measly $1,000 and they sent me on my way.
After that, I was desperate. I was trying to take any job that I could find. One of the most embarrassing jobs that I ever had was selling meat door to door. Yes, go ahead and laugh, but to me, it was something. It turns out that my wife was not going to let me go crashing down that way. She called me in the middle of my first day, and asked if I needed to be rescued. She was the only one with a vehicle at the time, and I accepted. She drove about 50 miles, and picked me up. I never sold meat again. Don't get me wrong though. It's not like I'm beneath selling meat. It's a job, but not a very good one or very profitable one at that.
After that, I enrolled with a temp agency. They gave me suggestions, and I ended up liking one of them. My first interview was over the phone with the Sales Director at a payments company. I didn't know what to think of it, and I had no idea what they did. When I interviewed over the phone, the DS asked me to sell him something. I had to think quick, and so I decided to sell him a T-Mobile plan. Why did I pick this you ask? Well, my phone was a T-Mobile phone. I liked the phone, the plan, and I liked their customer service. I used this as my advantage since I knew enough about the product that I could sell it.
It turns out, that I did not do half bad. He asked to see me in person, and so we set up an interview for the next week. Over the course of the next few days, I interviewed with the DS, his boss, and another gentleman that had to verify that I was bilingual. Then, the following week I was hired. I took the job at $11 per hour (No Commission). They gave me a 90 day probationary period in which I had to prove my self worth. If I could prove myself, they would bring me on as a permanent employee, and start to pay me commission.
Within my first week, I made several mistakes, but they saw my ambition and my drive. They saw that if something that I tried did not work, I would tweek it and try it a different way, or completely different altogether.
Three months later: The VP of Sales is standing at my cubicle. He asks me to get up and follow him. I am terrified at this point because I have not had much luck with the previous jobs, and I thought that he was taking me into his office to fire me.
Well, this was not the case. He offered me a raise to $12 per hour plus commission, and to take a spot of a sales person that he was going to fire later that afternoon. I immediately took the position and started the very next day. I worked in this position for years and the pay was good. With this job, my yearly earnings were between $48k and $50k.
Since then, I have left that company, and have worked in other sales jobs. Where I currently work, it seems, for the time being anyway, that it is a great job. I do not plan to leave it any time soon. My benefit package is great, my pay is great, and my quality of life has improved greatly. I will tell you this, that if you do not have more than a high school diploma, or an Associate degree, then you will have to get your feet wet somewhere. Sales is a roller coaster, and you may have to try different seats on this ride before you settle.
Next Article: Getting your feet wet.