Uncategorized

When my Dad got sold…

I was probably 9 or 10 years old, at the local Sears with my Mom and Dad and my parents were buying a dishwasher.

My Mom was so excited about this because, you see, we never had a dishwasher. My Mom washed all of the dishes by hand every day.

My Mom was an immigrant….my Dad was in the Army and met her in Germany in the 70s. They moved to the United States shortly before I was born with my two brothers and sister, none of whom spoke English.

Having been born during World War 2 in Germany, my Mom was not afraid of work. I don’t think any German is afraid of work (insert joke here).

But America was and is the greatest country in the world and that means a housewife in the suburbs should have a dishwasher.

If I had to guess, I’d say less than 10% of the US population does NOT have a dishwasher, but it wasn’t always like that.

My Dad grew up in a small house in Follansbee, West Virginia that didn’t have hot water. His mother had to heat water on the stove and then haul it to the bathroom and dump it in the tub. They also had to get deliveries of coal for their furnace and shovel it in the house…and then constantly feed the furnace. My wife’s grandfather had to do the same thing. We’ve definitely come a long way.

Back at Sears, the salesman came over and my Dad said, “I want this one”. It was the cheapest. The salesman said, “let me show you the differences between that one and this newer model…the newer model has a sprayer on the top drawer and this model doesn’t which means your dishes on the top won’t get as clean”. My Dad, went quiet for a second and then said, “Give me the newer model.”

Why did that scene stay so vividly in my head all these years? Was it because I didn’t expect my Dad to get sold to or did I just witness the best dishwasher salesman in the Sears organization?

I honestly think it’s because the salesman was there to help the customer make a smart decision, and not to upsell.

As sales pros our job is to show the customer how they will truly benefit from our product. At this point, almost everything is commoditized, but we do have the best product at the best value and we will make the customer the happiest. What I’m trying to say is, don’t be afraid or ashamed to sell because absolutely nothing happens until something gets sold.

Advertisements
Uncategorized

Late Nights with Customers Is Lose-Lose

This is what I often hear from sales reps, “we’re drinking buddies. We got so wasted last weekend!”

They’re talking about their customers…Some of the time anyways and they’re bragging about their “epic hangovers”.

That’s your sales strategy?

I was that guy. I loved drinking, I loved hanging out and I thought I was the best sales rep on the planet.

Looking back, if anything, I lost sales and may have even lost a few years of my life too.

It’s complete bullshit that sales are made in the bar. I spent so much time with such a small handful of customers and I could’ve spent that valuable time with prospects or prospecting or even reading a book.

I completely stopped drinking a few years ago and have been selling more and more ever since because I’m able to think clearer (no hangovers), I’m able to work harder and longer (no hangovers) and I’m way healthier.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t drink at all. I’m saying I drank too much for too long and it was time and money spent poorly.

Spend your valuable time at nights with your family and when you’re able, prospecting, following up, and reading and personal development. You will make more money and you won’t be hungover the next day.

Cheers!

sales advice

10 Things You Can Do to Improve Your Work Ethic

1. Stop watching TV – I’ve all but stopped watching TV but I do make exceptions. I’m trying to learn French and German and I will watch shows in those languages in order to learn. But I definitely don’t watch HGTV or the Food Network. D-U-M-B.

2. Spend 15 minutes every afternoon going over what big things are going to happen the next 1-10 days. This is the time to set meetings and plan your work.

3. Work at night to make tomorrow go smooth. Ben Franklin said, “One today is worth two tomorrows.” For example, I used to deal with engineers on the west coast. I’d send them emails at 7pm eastern and have the info I needed by the time I got up in the morning.

4. Limit your hobbys. I love hobby’s but you have to limit your time doing them otherwise they’ll suck your bank account dry.

5. Close your Facebook and Twitter account. Unless you’re making money off them they’re a huge time suck. I’m glad I never joined either. Twitter is stupid. So is Facebook. LinkedIn seems to have some value, though. I’m sure I’ll get some arguments on this one.

6. Exercise and keep at a healthy weight. Take care of yourself and you will be able to make more money longer.

7. Read books – the Libby app contains more books than anyone can read. And they’re free. Audio books too. There’s a catch – you have to have a library card…but that’s also FREE! Get it!

8. Make your bed every morning. I saw some dumb video where a general told the graduating class to make their bed every morning….then I thought about it. Now I do it every morning and so do my two young boys, ages 8 & 6. I have to remind them daily but I absolutely love it. I’m not sure why but it makes me happy.

9. Slow Down. Drive slower, eat slower, have sex slower. Enjoy the moment and try to avoid rushing through life. These ARE the good old days.

10. Ask for feedback. Ask how you’re doing, ask how your boss likes a specific project, ask your partner what you can do to make them happy. Ask ask ask. Once you start you won’t stop!

sales advice

What to do if You’re Offered a Promotion

A wise man once said to me, “Sooner or later you’re going to get offered a promotion. Whatever you do, don’t take it.”

At the time, I was a salesman for a pesticide manufacturer. The senior sales guys told me how much they made and it was mind-boggling.

“Yeah, when you get promoted you get a higher salary, but for what?” He continued on, “with this job when you want a raise, you just work harder and smarter and sooner or later bigger commissions show up in your bank account.”

“But don’t you want to climb the ladder? Become CEO?” I asked.

I was a young 25 year old at the time and didn’t realize he was giving me both prescient and shitty advice at the same time.

Being a salesman is, if you’re smart, the best job ever. And the best sales jobs are those that have a small or even NO salary. Everything comes from commissions.

It’s the best because you make your own life. The harder you work, the more you make. And if there’s no shortage of product, that is you’re selling software or cars or chemicals, you can make a killing. Mid 6 figures and above.

The reason you don’t want a high salary is because it’s easier to have a flexible schedule when the company only pays you if you produce. They don’t care if you start work late on a Tuesday when you’re making them boatloads of cash. But if they’re giving you a high salary, they expect you to be around at all times.

When I asked him about climbing the ladder he said, “being a CEO takes an inordinate amount of time, the stress level is through the roof, and most CEO’s only last a few years before they’re fired.”

He was right. Let me make myself clear…there are times when it’s stupid to turn down a promotion. But you really have to consider if it’s really something you want….

sales advice

My near mid-air collision

The air traffic controller with the thick New York accent told me to turn 30 degrees to the left and climb 1000′ due to glider activity in the area. My iPad showed some traffic and my head was on a swivel keeping an eye out. Relief! I spotted the traffic 2000′ below and a mile to the north. I’d never seen a glider from my plane before and it was mesmerizing watching the long wings – it looked like a completely white dragonfly doing pirouettes.

At that moment, out of the corner of my eye, at 7500′, I saw a plane coming from the right, coming in fast.

I never had visions of becoming a pilot like some people. I think if someone had suggested it to me I would’ve thought that I didn’t have the smarts, the skills, or the money for such a thing. But in the course of doing business, I became very good friends with two customers who were both pilots.

Pilots like to talk a lot. About flying. That’s it. Oh And beer. When I was visiting with Rick and Larry they’d tell me stories of flying through the clouds in west Texas or making trips to the Caribbean. Larry had a fondness for landing on grass and Rick had a thing for Cardinals….a type of single engine Cessna.

Hanging with these guys inspired me to take exactly one single lesson. I went up in a Piper Tomahawk for my first time and found that while it was exhilarating, it felt like it was the scariest thing I’d ever done.

Here’s a secret: if you take a flying lesson, the instructor will let you fly the plane. And even though the instructor was sitting next to me, I felt a little like Lewis or Clark, traveling to places almost no one has seen before.

Air traffic control had also asked another plane to make a course change and change altitudes due to the glider activity. At that moment , the glider came from the right and went right over my plane. I guess that it was less than 100′ above my plane. My pulse quickened, I started to sweat. What WAS that?!?!?? I called over to the controller to let him know a glider just flew over me and ask if he saw it on his radar. He said no. The chatter that was previously on the frequency all but stopped when the other pilots heard my voice.

Becoming a pilot in your thirties has some advantages…most being the ability to remain calm. I didn’t get hit by the plane, I didn’t make a mess in my pants, I was still alive. I asked to climb higher even though that doesn’t make it any safer and immediately got cleared to do so.

The remainder of my trip was so uneventful, I had felt like it was just a dream.

When I got home, I called the air park where the gliders were based. I talked to the owner of the glider company for about an hour and he told me that they try to avoid powered planes at all costs, but that sometimes these things happen. He relayed a story to me about how he had taken a representative from the FAA up in a glider because they were considering changes to the routes commercial planes were taking in the vicinity. On that flight, both he and the FAA rep had their closest call ever with another plane.

Flying can be dangerous. Is it more dangerous than driving? Obviously you have a better chance at surviving a collision in a car, but driving kills 100 people every day….about 35,000 per year according to the NHTSA.

Is it worth the risk to experience the magic of flight?  Up to you to decide….let me know after you take your first flying lesson.

sales advice

Don’t be afraid to ask for the business

Simply put, if you don’t ask for the business, well, you won’t get it.

My latest experience was discussing a project that was several months away. My customer explained that he was choosing my company for the work and that, in 6 months, he’d call me to get things moving. GREAT.

But all I had at the point was a verbal commitment. My boss and team were happy, but I knew I screwed up by not getting anything written.

A month later, I invited my customer to lunch to get further clarification on the work schedule and also to get the proposal signed.

After talking about our kids, baseball, lawn mowers, cows, BMW’s, and Ford F-250’s I explained to him that I’d like him to sign the quote to reserve the equipment at the current prices and that I’d make sure we’d do an awesome and safe job for him.

He agreed and signed it on the spot. Sometimes things work out, but I could have very easily met with him, not discussed work at all (I forget to do that sometimes) and see where things would have gone.

By asking for his signature, it’s a way for both of us to commit to the work. He no longer has to find a vendor, and we can start planning for the job. In a lot of ways, getting the work lined up months in advance is better for the both of us and further cements our relationship.

The only time I’d recommend not asking for the work is if you just met and you haven’t built that rapport yet.

Good luck selling folks, and, when the time is right, ask for the work.

sales advice

Teaching kids to sell is smart and fun

My first experience helping my son with sales was when the YMCA guides group we go camping with told us about their annual wreath sale.

The wreath sale is their only fundraiser and it helps to send kids with special needs go camping.  I wanted to help with this fundraiser…

The first thing my son and I did was come up with a script for when someone answers the door. He and I worked on it and came up with, “Hi, my name is Joshua Di Gennaro, I live on Mulberry Dr, and I’m in the 2nd grade at Baker Elementary. I’m selling Christmas Wreaths for the YMCA. Would you like a small wreath or a big wreath?”

Asking if you’d like a small wreath or a big wreath is a little bit of a sales tactic where you work to prevent the, “no”.  It’s  a little gimmicky, but under the circumstances I knew it was going to be fun to see how people reacted.

The first house we stopped at the Dad immediately saw through the close, but invited us in and bought a large wreath.  On top of raising money for a good cause, it’s also good to make contact with your neighbors.

The lessons I wanted to teach my son was to make eye contact, to speak loud enough, to learn how to quickly build rapport, and, probably the biggest lesson I wanted him to learn was rejection.  We ended up selling about a dozen wreaths in an hour and called it quits, but it was a great first step into selling and being able to go up to a house and recite a script at age 7 is definitely brave.

This past weekend I was in charge of a raffle and I had Joshua selling again.  I reminded him to make sure to make eye contact, to smile, and to speak loud enough.

I do feel like some people are born with natural sales abilities, but that anyone can learn good techniques if you want to.  Making eye contact, smiling, and speaking loud enough are three life lessons that will help get you wherever you want to go in life.