My colleague posted about his work history today and how it lead to where he is now. Its a great post about finding what you want to do with your life and then doing it. Some people are lucky and find their career path straight outta high school or college. Jon and I did not have that path.
Jon and I both found our footing in sales. For him it was selling pumps and for me it was office supplies. If there is one job I recommend that everyone give a try it is sales. You don’t even have to be good at sales to gain a plethora of knowledge about business. I haven’t been in a sales position for over 2 years but I use sales techniques all day long.
Sales teaches you to be bold, persistent, and confident of your position and product. Sales teaches you humility and never counting a sale till the money is in your hand. Sales teaches you the power of percentages and how just a little more effort can generate a massive increase in profit. Sales teaches you when to shut your mouth and let things happen. Sales teaches you to listen and reply with useful information. Sales teaches you to hustle and never take a moment for granted.
All of my school life I was terrified of sales. I got pulled into an MLM my senior year of college and that soured me on sales for a while. I was so terrified of talking with customers to the point that I worked as a cook instead of waiting tables. I got into websites and the Internet cause it didn’t involve the awkwardness of face to face communication.
I was adrift after graduating University and bounced around a number of jobs. I worked at the newspaper handling production. I ran a local pizza delivery store making pizzas and yelling at drivers. Then I was the webmaster for a small recruiter doing well until the dot com bust happened. Then I thought I would be a chef and worked a few cook jobs. Even spent 5 months as a sushi chef. Learned a lot about knife skills on that one. My last retail gig was as a front desk agent at a high end hotel. After a few months of that I realized I needed to go into sales and start making some money.
My first sales job was selling office supplies as an independent salesperson for Quill.com. They gave me a bag with catalogs and an area of Phoenix and set me on my way. I spent about 8 months learning to just walk into a business and start talking about office supplies. I could look at a laser printer and tell you how much you were paying for toner and what I could save you.
I started in Spring and worked through the summer in Phoenix, AZ. I got yelled at, chased by dogs, and kept doing it day in and day out. It took me a while to realize how bad the job actually was but I made friends and learned how to sell, a little. The one thing I did get out of that job was the confidence to sell anything to anyone at anytime. I wasn’t a sales machine but I could get into doors that required a buzzer from the inside. I learned to listen and never assume the sale. I learned to take 50 no’s in a row and then do it again. Cause when you get that 1 yes it makes the no’s disappear like the wind.
Not everyone is in Sales but we are all in sales. At the end of the day we only have jobs because someone is buying the companies product. Find a way to add to the bottom line and you should have a job forever. Thinking like a salesperson means you are thinking about how to make the company money. It can come in the form of closing a sale or saving a sale. It can come from a fast reply or a new feature added to the product. It can come from convincing the product team to change directions and take a risk on something new.
When I was selling office supplies I ended up in an older businessman’s office one day. We talked about office supplies and business and sales. He told me something I have never forgotten: “Learn how to sell and you’ll never go hungry.” I don’t think we have to all be used car salespeople and try to take advantage of each other. I think that learning how to sell helps all of us work better together. Once you have a sales job and understand how easy it is to be a total jerk as a customer you learn to be nicer.
The temperatures have cooled but I am still in a walking mood. Kate and I walked the fenceline trail and talked about the house design. Things are coming together well. We are agreeing a lot which is nice.