When I was 17, I worked 12 hour days as a business to business salesman. It was a purely commission based job so I only got paid if I sold something. Every morning at 7 am, we would be given a bag full of different items such as pens, maps, toys, watches and whatever doohickey they could come up with. Of all the items we sold, it is the London A to Z maps that I remember the most.
One thing you learn quickly when you are a salesperson in a new city is that many of the residents either can’t give you good directions or are as clueless as you are. I hadn’t been in London for more than 3 months so I needed to know exactly where my prospects were even before we left the office. The other salespeople would ignore the map and trust their ignorance to help them find our prospects. There was no Google Maps or iPhone at the time so finding little known small businesses was a herculean task. Another thing that made me appreciate step by step instructions was our early morning meetings.
At the briefing, a salesperson who had conquered a certain zone would have tips on which buyers in that neighborhood were more likely to pay and what tactics to use to close the sale. Some business owners preferred if you showed up in a suit. Others were more eager to buy from someone who wore a t-shirt and jeans. One business owner liked me because he liked my Prada shoes. (They were actually my uncle’s and I only wore them because I didn’t have black sneakers.)
Having sales targets, a map to find the prospect’s location and having a step by step blueprint to attract customers and make the sale are lessons that have helped me build a successful profitable business today. Most business owners don’t know how to set and achieve business goals. In fact, many don’t even know what the goals are so they don’t have any way to measure how successful the business is.
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