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Monday, July 12, 2010

Make a Sale Everyday

I was never any good at selling things. When I had to sell candy for the Boy Scouts I was petrified. Going door to door was absolute torture for me. And so the last thing that I thought I would be when I grew up was a salesperson. A funny thing happened on the way to adult-ville. I felt a calling to become an evangelist or a salesperson for God. Sounds like a peculiar calling for a person who lacks natural gifts in this area. For some strange reason I embraced the idea and set out to find out what it takes to be a great salesperson. I learned two rules that have become my credo.

Rule No. 1 – Love the People
I have met so many wonderful people in my life. One of them is Bernie. He is a retired paint salesman from New York City who now winters in Florida and summers in Pennsylvania. Bernie is always busy. He works around his house fixing the endless problems that come up when you live in a house older than you. He has beautiful gardens and is always tending to them. And Bernie paints. You would think that after so many years in the paint business Bernie would not want to touch a paintbrush. But he keeps the paint on his house in tiptop shape. And he has painted some of the common areas in his homeowners association. And when Bernie paints something it comes out beautiful and lasts forever.

I asked Bernie one day about what it takes to be a good paint salesperson. Bernie’s answer was simple and surprising. He said that a successful salesperson has to “love the people.” It was that simple. Bernie traveled from store to store talking to the owners. He would always smile and be gracious even when he was asked to leave. But he would always come back. He said that he showed them through his actions that he was dependable and caring. He simply loved his customers and that made all the difference. After many years of persistent selling he told me he didn’t have to leave his office to have enough orders for the month. People responded to his love.

Rule No. 2 – Don’t let the sun go down without making a sale
I asked another friend who was a fine salesman the same question that I asked Bernie. I expected to hear from him sage advice on how to approach people or how to pitch a product. Or maybe he would suggest I read a book on how to be a success. He suggested a book alright, but it wasn’t what I expected.

He gave me a book called, “The Greatest Salesman in the World” by Og Mandino. I love this book. It has communicated so many wonderful things to me. At one point it says that a great salesperson should make a sale everyday. “Don’t let the sun go down without making a sale.” I have taken that saying to mean that each day I should try to understand another person, or help another person, or encourage another person. Each and every day I should try to lead someone to a closer relationship with God. Every single day I should try to love someone else. And this is exactly what I have been striving to do. Sometimes the sun goes down and I felt that I haven’t made a sale. But when I do, I can’t describe the wonderful feeling that comes over me.

And so like the Fuller Brush man I plod along the road of life searching for a sale. Over time, and to my surprise, I have found that I do have some gifts in this profession. Maybe I had them all of the time and didn’t realize it? Maybe God gave me what I needed? Or maybe it’s just plain easy to love people every day and anybody can do it? You decide. And while you are pondering this riddle, make sure you don’t let the sun go down without making a sale.

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