It was one of those bring your father to school days and all the dad’s got up and told the class what they did for a living.
I sat there bored out of my mind listening to what the dads did for work except for the firefighter and police man (as a kid those were totally awesome – and still are). But when my dad got up and told the class that he sold guns to the military and the police departments I thought man, my dad is even cooler than I thought. I thought, who wouldn’t want to shoot guns all day.
Then he told me that he didn’t shoot guns all day. He spent his time talking to people about why his guns were the best and why they should order guns from him, and that he would do his best to convince people to buy guns from him. He said that he would get paid based on how many guns he sold. So I asked if you sell a million guns would you make a million dollars. I don’t remember the exact answer but I remember understanding that he could make a limitless amount of money based on how hard he worked and I thought that was a cool concept. After all, playing the game life as a family I understood doctors make a lot of money but your paycheck was set. But as a sales person you don’t have any limits!!!
Then the gears in my head started moving, and I thought about what I could sell. After a while an idea hit me. I was really good at making origami chinese throwing stars, and all the kids loved them. So I decided that I would make a bunch and spray paint them silver. Back then school lunches were 90 cents and most parents just gave us a buck and we’d get a dime back, and after school we would go to 7 Eleven and buy two 5 cent pieces of candy.
At first I got a lot of kids telling me no and I remember my dad telling me that he never took “no” for an answer and he would try to convince them to buy his guns. So I did the same thing. Most kids wanted candy at the end of the day rather than a shiny piece of paper. I started telling these kids that they could have candy tomorrow but have this chinese throwing star forever. I started pointing out a few of the kids that bought one and said, see Brad has one and look how much fun he is having. I couldn’t believe how well that worked. Soon everyone in the 2nd grade had one and kids would lose them and ask me for another one.
So I followed in my father’s steps and I skipped college and got into sales. I started at a couple of call centers and I was a natural. Then I sold cars. Next I did mortgages, before the housing crisis in 2007.
The next step in my career was a pivotal moment for me. I went from a feature and benefit style of sale to a longer sales cycle consultative style sale. My raw natural ability did not help me much there. I fell on my face, it was a hard fall from always being a top rep to being at the bottom. My ego and pride hurt the most. I struggled for 6 months until my boss came to me and said “Jeremy I don’t care if you get zero deals next month, but you have to try something different, otherwise I’m going to have to let you go”. This was the best manager I ever had. Most managers taught what not to do as a manager, but he taught me what and how to be a leader. I took his advice and I spent half of every day for an entire week listing to top performers in the company. I noticed a pattern and put together an outline of questions to ask potential customers.
I started closing people on the first conversation, in less than half the time I would normally spend with people the first time. This system I discovered took me from zero to hero in t-minus 1 month. I was the number 1 rep that month and I really only worked 3 weeks out of the month.
My system worked so well, my manager had me teach it to our team and our bottom performers started closing more business too. Then my manager made me the team leader, and I was quickly promoted to manage my own sales team. The team was a bottom performing team (hence the job opening) and in 2 months we became the #1 team among 30+ teams in our division. We were consistently #1 for 2 years and they stayed #1 for another year after I left.
I was recruited to run a sales team for a marketing automation software where I was able to teach my team the same methodology. When I first arrived there everyone told me that the process was a 3 call process. No one tried to close the deal until the 3rd call. After listening to a few calls and hearing the buying signs I wondered why no one even tried to close people before the 3rd call. So I started teaching my team a deeper understanding of sales. We had the first one call close in the company and that changed the entire culture of the sales team.
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