by Jacques Werth
I was doing research on how top salespeople sell and I read about Bill in a contractor’s equipment magazine. He was the top salesman with the leading manufacturer of several lines of contractors’ equipment. So, I called him up and arranged to go out on a few sales calls to observe his sales process.
When we were driving to his first sales call, I asked him, “What is it you do that’s different from what other salespeople do?”
“I don’t know, because I don’t pay attention to anyone else,” he replied.
I asked, “How did you decide to become a salesman?”
“I didn’t actually decide to be a salesman until after I realized I was one. It started when I got a job as a clerk in a paint store chain where most of the customers were painting contractors. So, I did everything I could to learn about paint. After a few months, the manager quit and the district manager said that I was now the manager and he would hire someone else to be the clerk.”
“Then what?” I asked.
“Well, I got along real well with the contractors and our sales doubled. The District Manager kept dropping in to see what I was doing. He kept telling me that I should be friendlier and more accommodating to the customers. When he realized that I wasn’t doing it his way, he started giving me poor ratings, in spite of my sales success.
“Finally, the Regional Manager stopped by. He asked me if there was anything he could do to help me with my progress. I told him it would really be good if he kept the district manager out of my store. He said that he would not do that. I did not argue about it, but I was not happy.”
“And then?” I said.
“Some of the contractors were telling me that I could make a lot more money selling other stuff to them at their offices and job sites. Then, one of them told me he knew of an opening for a salesman at a contractor’s equipment supplier. He named a few other contractors that came into the store who also bought from them. So, I called those guys and asked them to call the manager at the equipment supplier and tell him that he should hire me. Soon afterward, the manager called me and offered me the job.”
“And you accepted over the phone?”
“No. I told him I wanted to meet him later that day. When we met, I told him that I don’t sell like anyone else he’s ever met and if that was a problem to tell me right then and we could part ways. He said, as long as I sold honestly, he was not going to tell me how to sell. And that’s how I became a salesman.”