I never intended to be in sales. In fact, I dropped out of school to work in the family business – that is, whenever I decided to show up. My father would take me on business meetings where I was exposed to high-level executives in organizations like the Vancouver Canucks. I drove around in a 1979 burgundy Corvette and never paid a bill. My life was great and I had zero responsibility. That all changed when I was 18 and my family went bankrupt. We moved out of town, and soon after, my parents divorced. Within a matter of a day, I found myself sleeping on a friend's couch with no money, no education, no job skills, and no life skills. But I had a plan. Across the street from my friend's place was the welfare office.
I made an appointment to get assistance, but when I met with the welfare office I was notified that I was too young; you had to be at least 19 years old to qualify. Plan B was to get a high-paying job, and I began my search in the local paper. There was an advertisement for a position that started at $20 per hour. I made the call and scheduled a time for my job interview. Once the interview concluded, I was hired as a vacuum cleaner salesperson, a straight commission position demanding 12 hours a day.
I was very successful selling vacuums, but within a few months the company closed. I skated from job to job thereafter. I spent time washing dishes in the morning and worked as a cashier in the evening. For a time I worked as a laborer building log homes, and even spent time as a junior accountant. I was at home one evening, flicking through the channels, and I noticed a guy from the 80’s television show, “That's Incredible!” which had long been canceled. The interviewer was Fran Tarkenton, the famous football player. He was interviewing Anthony Robbins, and I listened for a few minutes, wishing I could afford his personal power audio cassette series. I could barely afford to eat, let alone purchase the tapes: however, by chance shortly after, I found myself in a bookstore in front of his book, “Unlimited Power.”
I purchased the book and my life has never been the same. I eventually got my GED and took classes in marketing and sales. I read every book I could find in the realm of self-improvement, business, and sales. I became obsessed with being better, challenging myself to overcome all anxieties and obstacles that were barriers to my advancement. The next great learning experience in my life was when I read “Maximum Achievement” by Brian Tracy, and I realized that there were universal laws like the law of attraction, law of correspondence, law of super conscious activity, law of cause and effect, law of compensation, law of control, law of concentration and – my personal favorite – the law of belief.
Once I began to understand these laws and invested in myself, I grew in confidence and my sales career followed. I was becoming more successful in my approach. I would again take my sales career to another level when I was introduced to “Spin Selling” by Neil Rackham. The book is based on research of 35,000 sales calls. The research proved what I had intuitively known all along: that closing practices in large sales accounts do not work, and that the most successful salespeople use questioning skills in a specific sequence which he calls “spin” (situation, problem, implication, need payoff). The culmination of the lessons learned from “Unlimited Power,” “Maximum Achievement,” and Spin Selling” provided me with the tools to excel in my profession.
The more I excelled, the more fun and confidence I obtained. I went on to work for two Fortune 500 companies in executive roles, which included winning the North American Sales Professional of the Year award. One lesson I have learned and know to be true is that change is constant. What works today may not work tomorrow. So it is in selling. To sell successfully you must change, because what worked yesterday does not work today.