I was in the top 3 of a 200-member sales team for four years, and won the President’s Club trophy for highest sales, at TowerStream, selling Internet services, business-to-business. I was also at the same company only a few years earlier, my first attempt at sales, and I failed miserably, making almost no sales.
After that, I learned!
I call it anti-selling!
What I learned is, nobody wants to be sold to, but people need things, and trust is the bottom line.
I was well-known at TowerStream, among customers, and had spent my first few years there doing installations. I never intended to be in sales, and had never before been in sales …
But we did wireless rooftop-to-rooftop networking, and I installed a lot of antennas and cabling, and met a lot of chief technical officers.
I was good at installing, and always left them feeling like the job was well done. While an installer, I also troubleshot. This is another opportunity to meet all the bigwigs, fix their problem and be polite, which was my job.
My territory was Providence and Boston, and I spent a few years driving around in a bucket truck. Chances are, if you’re in that area, I know your neighborhood, and I know the view from a nearby rooftop, possibly yours!
At that point I hadn’t done any sales yet, and didn’t even know I was learning! As part of that politeness I thought was part of my job, I’d leave a business card, and suggest they call me if they have any problems.
Eventually, I wore out; years on rooftops will do that to you; the weather is pretty extreme, and you have to carry a lot of cinder blocks up ladders.
I took a job as inside salesman. I had no idea what I was doing, and at the time, no one was teaching me! These days, they have a great sales training system, but back then, it was one of the first sales teams the company had, a bunch of skilled veterans, but they weren’t technical teachers.
Time went by; they said “Hey, you’re not very good at this!” They needed somebody to be a customer service manager. That was my only option, and I gladly took it.
Customer service management allowed me to meet even more people, and fix their problems! The job will wear you out, and after a couple years, coming in every day to the loudest yellers, my stint came to an end in customer service.
And oddly, I wanted very badly to become a salesman again!
I learned everything, and I knew it, about sales!
Without ever trying to sell anybody anything, but just trying to help them fix their problem, I would more often than you’d imagine sell them an upgrade. They’d call, irate with a problem with their internet, I’d speak confidently about technical things, and describe their neighborhood from their rooftop, gaining their trust, explain to them exactly what needs to be done to fix the problem, and if it cost a little bit more, I’d upsell them. But that’s what you call it in sales!
I’d finish the call, and transfer it to my favorite salesman, saying please process the upgrade for this guy. Salesmen loved me.
The story ended with me going from customer service back into sales. I stayed for four years. I was top three out of 200 salespeople every month for that entire time, and won every award put out.
I never told any customers that I changed jobs!
My strategy was simple – I was already selling, when I was doing customer service – I had momentum – why change?
The first day of my second stint in sales …
I was still in customer service.
They knew me, and had my business cards. I’d done all the footwork. They already trusted me. The phone would ring, and it would be the chief technical officer from a huge company, who I had been out in the field with and we had already become friends. He needs something, thinking I was his key point of contact at TowerStream, and he was right, because I was willing to help him with whatever he may need.
I would get phone calls in the airport, on my way to Mexico for my annual getaway vacation, maybe discussing a deal with General Dynamics, while having a smoke outside the airport lobby.
Once, in a grass shack on the beach in Tulum, laying on a bed, talking on the phone with a prospect, I made the mistake of answering a question “si.” We had been getting along well, me and the potential client. He stopped, and said “Dude, are you on vacation!?!” I muttered “Yea, I’m in Mexico!” He said “Get off the phone and go have fun! Call me next week!”
They called me on my cell phone. They had a job to do, a budget to do it with, and needed somebody to trust, with a good service. I had everything they needed, and so they called me and asked me if I could help. The reason they called me, was not about money. They trusted me.
The reason they called me was not any standard sales reason, that you normally hear, not my price was the lowest, not my service was the best, not I always wheel and deal, not I’m the fastest – but that you could trust me.
Of course, on top of that, all those other things were also true. But that’s not going to get you into the top 1% on your sales floor. Only trust will, and that’s earned.
Have a good product, believe in it, get your hands on it, talk about it, know what you’re talking about, and make yourself very available!
Be careful that any effort you make to sell something to someone doesn’t conflict with their genuine need to hear what you have to say. Assess their need by listening to them.
I’m not atany longer, but they’re a great team over there – give them a call if you need wireless services in any major city in the US.
I hope that helps! Have a great day!
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