Greatest Sales Person Alive
I love selling. There is something very gratifying in an exchange an ownership created by you. Let me explain:
If you are reading this, then you probably want to know the secret of the killer salesman. I know that person. I’ve known him for 35 years. He lived in the next room.
Here is the story of the greatest salesperson whose influence I owe a lot of my own sales tactics.
At the age of 16, my brother decided to work in the summer before preparing for college and his lifelong dream to become an engineer. At that time in the early 80s, T.V. antennas were the rage. Our neighbour had just got his hands on one, but had no idea to install it. So my brother, who had the reputation of being a tinkerer, was called upon to do something with it.
“I can do it” exclaimed my brother, and who had never seen a T.V. antenna in his life. He thought all he had to do was go through the instruction manual and no worries. Surprisingly, this was exactly what he did. He installed the contraption to the ecstatic satisfaction of the neighbour. And this sparked his first idea. If the neighbour wants on, probably other people would too. Afterall, they were the must have in the 80s before the coming of cable and other forms of entertainment.
He prepared a hand written poster, but had no means to make multiple copies. So he had the following conversation with our father who worked in an office:
Brother: “Papa, I need 50 copies of this poster. Can you arrange that at your office copier?”
Father: “Umm…50? What are you going to do with so many? Try 20.”
Brother: “No, I need 50. Possible?”
Father: “Sure. I can get you 50 copies. When do you need it?”
My brother got the posters and he put them up everywhere he could: elevators, bus stops, outside apartments, the local grocery stores, etc. Anywhere they would be seen by potential customers.
The result? Business exploded. He had more calls on our house line than he could handle. He recruited my other brothers as assistants and did as many gigs he could. He came to be known as the “cable guy.” Remember, he was only 16 at this point.
I, at that point, was only 6 but the education I got by observing my brother was priceless. He would tell me how his advertising had worked and cost him next to nothing. He would share stories about difficult customers who wanted more than they would pay for, but he would deliver it regardless and turn them into his advocates and referral machines. All by delivering better customer service. He told me that people would get delighted if you do a clean job and give people more than they expect. He told me that pricing had to be fair, even if there was no competition. These lessons were shared in the kebab parties he threw after every job well done. They were the highlight of the evening. His challenges with the customer of the day, how they were demanding, how they bargained for minuscule amounts, and how he overcame every challenge with a smile and confidence.
He went on to create many new ventures in contracting, publishing, consumer products, lotteries (yes, he did create a lotto promotion), restaurant, auto sales, etc. In every business, there was one constant: deliver more than what people expect. There are so many variables when you deal with people, their needs, budgets, satisfaction, doubts..the list goes on. But the most powerful selling tactic I learned early on was deliver more. More than they want, than what they expect, more customer service, and price it right.
Sometimes you don’t need to build a better mousetrap. Sometimes, all it needs is to delight people. If you can stop selling product and make people’s lives better, thats a people-trap. You will get people to become your evangelists who will trumpet you and your brand because he is delighted. This is what we want in sales: to delight people. To make them sell you as a problem solver to their friends and family. Anything less is not acceptable.
I eventually go on to study marketing, finance and management at the best universities in the world, but the lessons I learned as a child from the cable guy shaped my attitude towards selling to people stayed forever.
Welcome to the New Sales Revolution.