Cold calls, warm heart

Happy holidays! 

I can’t wait to add that phrase to my phone calls at this time of year.  Everything about the season has so much to be excited for.  I call it my “A-Game” time of year.  Between Thanksgiving and the New Year a lot of sales people wind down, assuming that there can be no business closed.  They think that their prospects’ minds are on partying, shopping, and stressing out.  Let them.  I know better.  And because they’re not closing business, I am.  I pick up that phone and dial away, and I always try to make each call a celebration.

Where did I get this attitude?  How can I keep focused on dialing when so many are thinking about how to get home or on vacation this time of year?  Easy.  I had some good — no, I had some great — mentors along the way.  Their guidance and philosophies have helped shape a career that I’m proud of and excited to work on every day possible.  So, when I sit down to my Thanksgiving dinner this year, you can bet I’ll have plenty to express gratitude for.  Here are just a few of the people I want to thank now and always:

The Professional Beggar

My dad is first and foremost on my mind.  I wish you could have met him.  He was a dynamite personality who sold cars for a living.  He used to call sales “professional begging,” and he was proud of it.  He taught me that this “begging” meant that you never insult someone if you can avoid it, and that you constantly ask for the close.  You use good manners, and keep engaged with the prospect in a friendly way.  I mean, would you drop a dollar into the jar of a homeless person who was rude to you? Of course not.  People deserve respect, and my dad was champion of that philosophy.

But it was his persistence day in and day out that made him successful.  He’d be ready to close shop and someone would come in asking about a car.  Dad would welcome that person in and a couple of hours later often waived good-bye to a new customer and even more often, a new friend, as they drove off in one of his cars.

The Faker

In high school all of my dreams of becoming a professional football player were cut short when an injury ended up giving me epilepsy.  Suddenly, I had to count on my Mass Communications degree and find work that went beyond blocking and tackling.  But I was lucky.  I met a man named Tom Desalvo.  Tom became my first sales coach and mentor.

“Sam,” Tom used to say to me, “Anything you want to be, you can.  Just fake it ‘til you make it.” Tom was talking about building up the mental fortitude to blow past all of the rejections you get as a telephone sales guy and know that behind every no, is a bunch of great information and an eventual yes.

“You get a no and a no and a no,” Tom said.  “Each no is stepping you closer to the one who wants what you have to offer.  Soon, you’ll start racking up the yeses.”

More than 20 years later, I can still hear Tom.  Only now, his words ring even truer because I know for myself that he was right. I took his advice to just keep dialing.  And it had paid off—big.

The Phone Dawg Motivator

One of my friends today calls me the “phone dawg.”  He says it has to do with my tenacity as a telephone guy, but also the ability to smile through each day and each call, and with thick, bulldog skin, let the harsher calls roll off.  This friend’s idea is that if you smile—really, truly, from the heart, smile—your personal energy flows through the call and your prospect can feel it.  When you’re smiling, you’re encouraging them into a conversation instead of badgering them into submission.  I don’t know what you want to call this, but I know it works for me. 

People have energy, and the happier you are with your calls, the more responsive your prospects tend to be to your energy.

A World of Positive Reinforcement

I’ll admit it.  I’ve been lucky.  I’ve had friends and mentors around my whole life to help me build the energy, attitude and perseverance needed to be a success in my job.  But there are messages “out there,” in ads and on television that you can tap into too:

• Nike’s “Just do it” is for you—pick up that phone.
• “Dialing for Dollars” isn’t just a catch phrase. It’s a way of life. You have a phone, so use it.
• Today is the day to take action.  Go make it a success.  Pick up that phone.

Yes, I truly appreciate all of my mentors who have inspired and motivated, with the intent to get the very best out of me.  They have all done the one thing my dad said so many times I hear it in my sleep.

“Son,” Dad said, “remember – people do not remember what you say or do, but they remember how you make them feel.”

Today, Dad, and all my friends in sales, I feel grateful. Truly grateful for the greats in my life.

Happy holidays, everyone.

Categories: Sales & Marketing