Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Money, Money, Money

"All progress is based upon a universal, innate desire on the part of every organism to live beyond its income."

Samuel Butler

Interviewer: "So tell me, Michael, why do you want to go into sales?"

Me: So I can make a lot of money.

Interviewer: Next.

What the heck? I mean, seriously, why does anybody want to go into sales? The answer is really simple, because they want to make a lot of money, buy lots of nice things, own nice cars, buy big houses, stay up to date on all the latest gadgets, pick up the most bar tabs, get the hottest girl and basically portray the image of having more money than their peers. At least that is what I think.

But there are plenty of other reasons, I am told. For the autonomy. There is no other occupation where you can "run your own company" without the associated risks of actually owning your own company.

There is also the sense of accomplishment that comes from making a big sale. Especially on a sale that came from a client that you completely cultivated yourself, starting with that initial cold call and ending with that big sale.

What about for the sense of self worth? Knowing that you have clients depending on you makes you feel pretty important.

What else? Why else do people go into sales? Maybe another reason is because you don't have to be on your "A" game every single day. Sometimes, you just really feel like crap and you don't want to work. Other times, its 72 degrees and sunny outside and it just feels like hitting the links would be much better than cold calling.

Or what about the challenge of building a client list from scratch? People say that they need a good challenge to bring out the best of them. I would say there is nothing better than starting with zero clients and working from the ground up.

How about because the old "because I am a people person!" How many times have you heard that one? Too many. What exactly does that mean? How does that qualify you for sales? My Mom is one of the nicest people I have ever met in my life. So she has to be a people person. But she ain't cut out for sales, that's for damn sure.

So lets get back to the main reason why people go into sales. MONEY. Really, when you think about it, there are only a few professions where you can make hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. Doctor, Lawyer, High Level C Manager and Sales. I could never be a doctor or lawyer, so that leaves me with C level manager and sales. Right now I am in sales, and someday I hope to be big swinging dick C-something. That way, I can make lots of money and buy lots of things. Along the way, maybe I can gain some self worth and impress the right people.

Thursday, March 16, 2006


I have a feeling that I will write many a posts about my adventures in cold calling. But there is always one call that will stick out in my mind. You see, when I started my previous sales job, (selling cable advertising), I actually took part in a 90 day training program that delved into media sales, sales strategy, and cold calling techniques, among many other topics.

But one underlying theme for cold calling was that you should always do a little research about the company you are calling on. Whether it be revenues, company locations, products offered, people in charge, etc... Regardless, you should know something about the client you are calling on and you should be able to draw on that prior knowledge if given the opportunity during the call. You know, make the client feel like they are important enough for you to have researched them.

So like I was saying before, I will never forget the time I had my ass handed to me on the phone and was completely embarrassed. So here is the situation: I was cold calling on a Friday afternoon. At that point, I was mindlessly dialing numbers, asking for who was in charge of advertising and bumbling through my schtick. So I called on an advertising agency and actually got in touch with the right guy, an older sounding gentleman that lived in Colorado. So the following is roughly the same conversation that we had:

Ad Agent: Hello this is Ad Agent.

Me: Hey Ad Agent, good afternoon, my name is Michael Campbell, I work for Cox Media, we are the company that handles the cable advertising in the Fairfax County area and I was hoping that I could speak to you about your client, Upscale Resale, specifically to talk about some upcoming specials we have...

Ad Agent: No, I don't have time. We do radio.

Me: I understand, that's actually why I am calling. I heard their ad on the radio and I thought that they would be a perfect fit for cable tv.

Ad Agent: Ok, tell me why you think they would be a perfect fit.

Me: Because you could focus in on your target market and advertise specifically to them.

Ad Agent: Who is my target market?

Me: Completely clueless: that's what I was hoping to speak with you about.

Ad Agent: Where are the stores located at?

Me: Fairfax County.

Ad Agent: Good answer, but where?

Me; I have no clue.

Ad Agent: Who owns the company?

Me:I have no clue.

Ad Agent: What do we sell?

Me: Furniture.

Ad Agent: What kind?

Me: No clue.

Ad Agent: What year were we founded?

Me: 1984

Ad Agent: 1952. Nice try.

Dead silence.

Me: This isnt going very well is it?

Ad agent: Son, this has been the biggest waste of my time in my entire career. Please don't ever call me again. Next time, have a fucking clue and do some research about your fucking client before you fucking call on them. CLICK.

He hung up on me. I was shocked, embarrassed, pissed off, upset and shocked. Did that really just happen to me? Did that guy really just curse me out on the phone and then hang up on me? What the hell just happened? I sat there for about ten minutes completely shell shocked. I didn't really know what to do or say. I mean, i felt like a total dumbass. I just broke one of the cardinal rules of cold calling. You should know a little bit about the company before you call them. With the ease of gathering information made possible by the interweb, you should never not know some background info on a company you are calling on.

So what did I do? I decided I was going to find out as much information as possible about the company, take notes, study it and then call the guy back and beg for forgiveness. So I drove down to the store, walked around, took notes about the clientele, read every single page of their website, called and asked who their owner was, and basically tried to find out every thing I could about them.

So the next Monday, I called up the ad agent and apologized for being such an idiot and wasting his time. I then thanked him for teaching me a very valuable lesson. I told him that he could hang up on me at any minute, but before he did, I just wanted him to know what he taught me and how I would remember him for the rest of my life.

He laughed initially, and then quizzed me a little bit about the company and after that, he completely opened up to me. Turns out that he graduated from UGA in 1967. I told him I graduated from there in 1999 and he bout had a heart attack. He immediately started telling me stories about his time there and we went back and forth for a good hour and a half reminiscing with each other.

I ended up signing him to my second largest contract ever. As it turns out, there was an inside joke going around in the company that this client would never ever sign on to do cable advertising because of how big of a prick their ad agent was. When my boss found out that I signed them onto a large contract, he immediately sent an email out to all of the sales people recounting my story. It was one of my proudest moments.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Ketchup Popsicles?

Hello, _____, thanks for taking my call. My name is Michael Campbell, and I work for X company, we are the world's largest wholesaler of midrange IT equipment, but the reason for my call is because I was trying to find out if this is an area you handle, or if there was someone in your group that does....

And so I start my first and only blog the same way I start 50 to 100 cold calls every single day. Do you know who I am? No. Do you need my services? Probably not. Am I wasting your time? Most likely. Can I save you money? Damn skippy! Are you going to give me that opportunity? Not on this call.

Sales: A brutal world. The best cliched description: A roller coaster. True, it is so worn out and has been overused by every salesperson out there, but damn it speaks so much truth. I mean, one day, you have six deals in the pipeline and your set to make in one paycheck what most people don't make in a year. Two months later, you have no viable prospects, your best client just left you and your budget goal has been raised and your commission percentage has been cut. DAMN!!!

So goes the life of about 10% of the world. At least that's what they say the percentage of the world that works in sales is. And I would say only 4% of them are even successful. The rest just get recycled through numerous sales jobs throughout their careers, never really finding that perfect position.

So why would I want to be a salesman? Probably a result of my upbringing and my role models: my pops and my older brothers. And maybe that competitive upbringing I had as the youngest of six boys in a family of nine had something to do with it. I mean, growing up, I always pictured myself being a successful salesguy that made tons of money. There was something that always appealed to me about having the autonomy of "running your own business." Because that is basically what sales is. The effort you put in is the reward you get out. One day you are motivated and you go out and make 200 cold calls, clean up your to do list, follow up on hot leads, etc. The next day you might just feel like doing nothing. But it all depends on what you have sold until that date.

So what's the point of this blog? I don't know. Strike that, I do know. Its so you can experience that roller coaster ride I was telling you about earlier. I think I might have mentioned earlier about that competitive nature of mine I was telling you about. Well, here's the deal. I just started my second sales job about six months ago. It has been a very difficult transition. I am still very unpolished and I have a ton to learn about sales. But as is the case with every thing in life, it is a journey that I am excited to take part in. And I would love it if you joined me along the way. I will write about my daily experiences, the ups and downs, the good times and bad. This first year should be a good one. But I am absolutely, positively determined to be successful and to make a lot of money. Along the way, I will tell you what its like to be an invisible salesman.

So stick around, have patience with me, and lets enjoy the ride!