In my lifetime I’ve been a parking lot attendant, dishwasher, busboy, waiter, house painter, mail room attendant, advertising account manager, marketing director and brand strategist but bever a salesman. Not until a few years ago. On my heels with few paid consulting assignments, I needed to put some cash points on the board so I took a job selling remodeled kitchens. I told myself that for a person in the selling business, I had never really looked someone in the eye and sold belly-to-belly. David Ogilvy, the godfather of advertising, would have chastised me for never strapping on a pair of salesman shoes.
Stationed at big box stores with a samples table, my job was to sign up customers for estimates. And you know what? I sucked at it. For a couple of months, I was at the very bottom of the company. When I finally stopped feeling sorry for myself, something clicked. I took it as a challenge — started diving for ground balls. I worked hard to connecting with customers and to entertain. People started listening. I started listening. And homeowners made appointments. I learned how to sell.
Shortly thereafter the company made me a trainer. I didn’t earn much, but I learned much. And that was David Ogilvy’s point. You gotta sell to sell.
PS. For a sample of best practices learned at this sales job, write Steve at WhatsTheIdea. Some pretty savvy stuff.