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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.

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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!

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401K – Common Sense Advice

Sign up for your 401K at work, get yourself a Roth IRA, and make sure you’re saving at least 10% in 2019 with a goal of 15% in 2020 and 20% beyond that.

My 41 year old self is thanking my 31 year old self for saving and now I’ve technically become a millionaire. Most of my money is tied up in 401K’s and my equity in my house, but I’m there.

I would not have gotten there if I didn’t save.

I also could’ve saved a lot more. A LOT MORE.

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How to Simplify Your Life Financially

Early last year I decided I wanted to simplify my financial life. I had a bunch of bills and felt like, while I was making good money on paper, I didn’t have a lot (or any) left at the end of the month.

First I cut out my lawn guy at $60/mow. He would mow my lawn roughly every 10 days from mid-April to November….20 or 21 times. That’s approximately $1200/yr saved. I’m now on my second year of mowing my lawn myself and will have saved $2400 by the end of this mowing season.

Next I sold my truck, boat, and airplane and bought a ‘98 Acura as a beater. I’m not sure this was a good idea, but I sold my truck for $6500 and bought my beater for $1000. I’d rather have my truck but I did use some of that money to invest in my children’s 529 college plan.

I really enjoyed owning an airplane, but the honeymoon had worn off and a 40 year old airplane is a money pit.

The boat was just stupid.

I got rid of Netflix but that only lasted a few months. I have it back now, but we haven’t had cable since 2006 and we don’t miss it.

I also got rid of an old refrigerator through the power company. It was using $5-$10 month of electricity, but West Penn Power took it away for free and gave me a $50 check for it. Nice!

I also feel that term life insurance is extremely important and while this added to my expenses, an additional $500K policy for $36/month is must-do for every husband. Get 10-12 times your annual income in term life.

Just getting rid of stuff is an amazing feeling. Some stuff I sold and other stuff I simply gave away. Having less stuff frees you and it feels great.

What are you doing to simplify your life?

My former plane
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How to sell to Government Agencies

Be ready for a long sales cycle. The government makes slow decisions and it’s even slower when you’re trying to convince them to buy something they haven’t purchased before or switch vendors.

Like all buyers, though, it’s still run by people who are more inclined to buy from you if they like you. The first step is to make sure you are communicating with the buyer and not someone who thinks they are. There is absolutely nothing wrong with asking the questions, “are you the decision maker for this field?” and “is there anyone else I should include?” during this process.

Once you’ve established a relationship you have to work on gaining an advantage and that advantage is for you to be written into the bid specs. Every company has their competitive advantage that is somewhat different than your competitors. Even if you feel you don’t have anything special, you can still ask to have the bid specifications written as such; “equipment provided shall be the ’12” pump’ as provided by Godwin Pumps of Bridgeport, NJ.” I specifically mention Godwin Pumps because they have done an absolutely incredible job at getting their pumps specified in government bids. Their pumps aren’t any better, but they asked to be specified and the customer complied.

If you can get your company or product mentioned in the bid, you are leap years ahead of the competition. Let me know how it works out for you! email me at david.digennaro@gmail.com

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How to Get a Raise (Hint: Give yourself one instead)

There are three ways to get a raise:

  1. Ask for a raise (almost never works)
  2. Get a competing offer and go to your manager (pisses your company and boss off)
  3. Give yourself a raise (best option)

I remember the first, and only, time I asked for a raise. I was a recent graduate from college and was managing the operations of a million dollar branch of a Midwest pesticide company. I was getting paid about $45,000/year, but I felt I deserved more.

It was tough to work up the courage, but having to live 45 minutes away in a tiny apartment and the realization that I was living off Ramen noodles gave me that will to ask.

I didn’t have a chance. I had absolutely nothing prepared on my market value, but I knew I wanted more money. The conversation went way better than I thought it would! We talked for a while discussed a bunch of non-work things and in the end he said he’d get work on it and get back to me! Wow! What a nice guy!

2 months later, I never heard a thing and the only feedback I got was, “that thing you asked me about…I’m still working on it.”

It was a good experience, though, in that it prepared me for future salary negotiations. Later, the same company would promote me to a sales representative and give me an $8,000.00 raise plus commission without asking for it. And that is how you give yourself a raise. Change jobs within the same company that pays more.

I’ve also gotten a raise using a competing offer. I got an offer for a few thousand more dollars and then brought it to them and then they gave me a $12,500 raise to counter it, but I did that the wrong way. If I had wanted to stay at hat company, I should’ve said, “Mike, I got another offer, but I’m not going to take it. But what does my future look like here?”

My advice to you is this: Give yourself a raise by working hard and efficient and/or transition to a sales job where you can earn commission. Here are a couple steps you can do to work harder:

  1. Turn off the TV (HGTV consistently shows reruns from 5-7 years ago…really?)
  2. Work AT LEAST 2 hours per night on research, proposals, and education

Try these two steps and you’ll find you’ll give yourself a raise in no time.

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How to Deal With Difficult Coworker/Sales Rep

I was in the process of making the company I worked for a lot of money. Like tens of millions in a short amount of time. I had made contact with a company in my territory and immediately established a good relationship with the decision maker, who just happened to live a mile away from where I grew up. I was also making a lot of contact with other companies we could potentially work and establishing relationships with them.

In comes my boss….here’s the new sales rep! He’s going to split the business with you!

WTF.

I immediately viewed him as a threat and started searching for other jobs.

Then they made me train him. Not only were they giving him half of my territory, they were going to make me train the SOB?!?!

That’s when my attitude changed. It turns out he was out of a job due to the economy and wasn’t looking to step on my toes. He was also very good at selling and building relationships and I realized I could learn a lot from him.

It took a couple years before we became the friends we are today, but he and I still stay in touch even though we’re both at different companies and live hours away.

If you are having to deal with a difficult coworker or sales rep, first try to spend more time with them to see things from their point of view. Not just a 10 minute meeting a day….you need to go on a business trip with them or a long drive to visit a client.

Try this and give me feedback on what you found!