How to Become a Great Salesman

It could be stocks, cars, widgets, ads, stereos, it doesn’t matter: there’s a high percentage of you that will ‘get’ to experience possibly this less-than-glamorous career path.

“The word ‘salesperson’ conjures up a lot of stereotypes,” says Jeffery Fox, a Harvard Business graduate and founder of Fox & Company, an award-winning marketing consulting firm. ‘It makes me think of Glengarry Glen Ross. That is NOT a good example of a sales person. It can be a school teacher selling students on writing, parents selling a kid on cleaning a room – it’s more than just sales.”

In his book Secrets of Great Rainmakers, Fox goes to great lengths to differentiate between a normal salesperson and a rainmaker, who is a salesperson that “sells the most, makes the best, and does it during any condition.”

The good news? Fox can make you rain – or is that reign?

Is becoming a ‘rainmaker’ easy? Is it teachable?

The best sales people are actually modest, quiet and ask a lot of questions. That’s something that can be taught. But it’s hard for schools to do. Very few faculty have the necessary battle scars; they come from an academic-oriented mindset, a lot statistics. That’s not what I teach.

Sales has a lot of failure, which you don’t talk about.
It doesn’t matter how much you fail, it’s the amount of success. You could fail all day and then make $5 million in one call. Failures happen. I call it the SW Rule: ‘Some will, some won’t, so what?’ That’s the mindset of a rainmaker. Don’t take the failure to heart.

In sales, is there a point when you can give up?

Your style must be most accommodating AND polite. It’s easy to be one, but not the other. You quit when the account isn’t worth it’ but if it’s worth $10 million, you KEEP calling. I knew this guy, Michael Chen, who didn’t know anyone in the aviation business when he started. But instead of getting shot down by the little people, he just started directly contacting the CEOs and COOs of every airline. He was persistent, too, but also polite. Eventually he got what he needed, and now he’s a VP at GE. If you have something of value to the customer, and if the amount of money is of interest. they’ll take your call.

I’m just out of college and jobless. What now?

Follow this simple exercise: 1) Draw a circle, 40 miles around where you want to live, and identify companies of interest in that area. 2) Do extensive homework on why the president or vice-president of that company should hire you. 3) Send a five-sentence letter to that person explaning how to cut costs or increase their revenue.

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