- As is so often the case, the ability to sell is not necessarily universal across products, much like an athlete’s ability to perform in one sport doesn’t mean that they will be able to perform at such a high level in a different sport.
We were certainly creative in generating income during this early period. The office was located near the stadium where the University of Michigan Wolverines football team played most fall Saturdays. They attracted over 105,000 spectators for every home game, so in addition to being situated directly across from tens of thousands of future prospective clients, we had an office parking lot to use. Early on game days, I would place “Park Here” signs around the lot and direct cars to the next spot. Those who have been to a Michigan football game know that parking in Ann Arbor on football Saturdays is not cheap. We were able to make extra cash to pay our rent. Always trying to be one of the “firsts,” I believe we were the only mortgage company that used such an “alternative revenue stream” to cover some of our overhead.
I met my most memorable sports client in 2001, when the Detroit Red Wings invited Russian hockey player Pavel Datsyuk for a tryout. Although most agents and other “experts” initially doubted he had much of a long-term pro future, on the second day of Pavel’s tryout, the team concluded he was worth their investment and offered him a three-year contract. When I met Pavel, he didn’t speak English, had no American credit and needed a place to live. Based on my lender relationships, I was able to help him get a loan for his first home, for which he was extremely grateful. Pavel has since gained a reputation as one of the NHL’s top players, helped his team win two Stanley cups and become one of my good friends as well.
Leading up to the mortgage industry meltdown, there were several toxic loan programs, such as subprime loans, negative amortization loans, and the so-called “liar loans” (borrowers would not have to provide proof of income) that turned out to be detrimental to borrowers and our economy. However, I did not believe in these products and refused to sell them.
If you don’t believe your company’s product or service is beneficial to consumers, you should consider moving to a company or industry that has a product in which you do believe. Essentially, if you don’t believe in apples, then sell oranges.
So, here is the magic list of secrets: Be passionate about sales, believe in your product, take care of customers, plan ahead, be available, expand your presence, be a creative marketer, have a positive outlook, and take risks. That’s what you need to get started and enjoy your first level of success. There is one more commandment—Always Be Closing.
ABC-- Always Be Closing is one of my favorite phrases and an appropriate title for this book. A motto that I live by, it is one of the prime reasons I have been successful as a sales person. I never turn off my selling mindset; I’m always ready to engage a friend, colleague, or stranger in conversations that will lead to a sale.
In order to ensure prompt customer follow-up, we eliminated a traditional voice-mail system by giving our sales force an 800 number that is also connected to their cell phone. After the phone rings four times, the call is forwarded to the cell, thus minimizing response time.
What does it take to become and remain a superstar? It is a question I often pose to novice salespeople who ask for advice. Their typical responses are: “Knowing your product,” “serving your customers,” “returning customer calls promptly,” “not putting your paycheck in front of the customer’s needs” and “being honest.” I generally respond that, “Those are the basic requirements for all salespeople; what you have to do to just be moderately successful."
There is another major part of my daily routine—lunch in the office. I almost never go out to lunch…not with a Realtor, lender or Gold Star loan originator. That is because lunch is for losers, which sounds extreme but is actually a very solid concept . . . I understand that many people—including some readers—may still think the Lunch is for Losers attitude is too harsh and closely associated with a boiler room operation, so I am willing to soften it somewhat to Salespeople Who Take the Regular Lunch Hour are Losers…of Additional Income.
When the global financial meltdown hit, I was confident we would thrive, even though I faced many difficult days and sleepless nights. By the end of 2008, we had close to 220 employees. Gold Star didn’t lay off any employees and no one quit because of the difficult environment. The company had grown 200 percent and achieved a 712 percent increase in our total revenue during the most difficult time imaginable.
During the last few years, Gold Star has been recognized on a regional and national level. In 2009, Inc. Magazine ranked us as one of the fastest growing U.S. companies. In 2009 and 2010 we were also rated as one of the Top Work Places in Michigan by the Detroit Free Press. One of my most satisfying moments was reading the Free Press one Sunday morning and seeing that we had been voted a top work place by our employees. Reading the testimonials they had written was one of the first times since leaving Kiev that I actually shed a few tears.
From Chapter 11 "Forty Ways to Ruin a Sale…and How to Avoid Them"
Accepting “no” for an answer, when you detect “waffling.” Sometimes salespeople give up just a little too easily. Customers often want you to give them additional assurances that they are making the right decision. They may not mean “no,” but rather “I need to be convinced that this is the right decision.” Before accepting “no,” try a few additional questions or suggestions to get a positive response.
Failing to track your marketing and sales efforts on a daily basis. It is essential to know where customers heard about you and what marketing activities are most effective. At the very least you should ask customers what prompted them to call you and keep an ongoing log that details the source of referrals and other contacts.