I get asked this question a lot, so I made this video about it. It's a true story and a question I get a lot, but it takes about 13 mins to answer so here's the whole thing:
I just had coffee with someone who suggested I needed to give my new online business more credibility. I told him, ‘Oh, I put in my bio that I built a $40Million sales team, you don’t think that’s enough?” And he goes, “yea, I saw that. I didn’t believe it, though. I mean, at your age”
Didn’t believe it? My mind starts going. What is this guy, sexist? He doesn’t think a woman my age is capable of building a business?
Then I asked him… “Why don’t you think someone my age could build a $40M business?” and he said, “oh, it’s not that I don’t think you could, I just don’t know how you could.”
Then it was clear. It’s not that he didn’t believe I could, but he didn’t know how because he’d never seen it done before, therefore assumed it was a fabrication. “Do you want to know how?” I said. “Sure, he said,” This is what I said to him:
First, it all started because I hate sales. I hated everything about it, but I needed a job and my dad was a sales trainer. He convinced me to work with him for a healthcare startup in New York. He wrote a book called The Spirituality of Success: Getting Rich with Integrity
But still, I doubted everything he taught me. “That doesn't’ feel right. Aren’t you really just lying? That’s manipulation, Dad” That came in handy because I would attract the same kind of idealistic salespeople on my future team.
I started selling anyway. I gave him the benefit of the doubt. I followed the formula every time.
By my second year in sales, I was generating over $1m in personal sales and six-figure commissions. Break that down the average sale was around $450 per month or $5400 per year, and I was making around 4-5 sales per week. To make 4-5 sales I had to have 7-8 appointments. To get 7-8 appointments I had to make at least 200 calls. 80% of those would be voicemails, but I could book appts with about half of the ones I spoke with. I knew my numbers. My close ratios were high. I had a strict schedule. Mondays and Fridays I worked from the office setting appointments. I was in the field Tuesday through Thursday, one weeknight and never on weekends. I was taught the best way to get a sale is to develop a relationship and the best way to develop a relationship is face to face. Every time I cut that corner I regretted it.
From my very first week, though, I was the top salesperson in the company. I wasn’t really sure why at the time because most of the others had years of sales experience behind them and thought I must have been getting some kind of special treatment. But they never considered I was investing more. I made more phone calls than anyone else. I sent more emails. I went to more networking events. I networked online. Got speaking engagements. Advertised. Cold called. Went door to door. Did blog posts. Got PR. Even got a client to feature me on her public access tv show in Staten Island. I followed the “rules.” Read every sales book and invested in every seminar. I had to alter a lot of it to avoid the persona of an icky, sleazy, annoying salesperson without denying that sales is a system and a formula. I knew my product and my competitors products inside and out. I really cared about my clients. I was passionate about what I was selling. We were up against some big giants in the industry and i really wanted us to win. I learned how to take the ego out of selling and deal with rejection.
I learned that sales is an art and a science and a craft that must be mastered. It’s not just about giving information or wanting to help people. It’s about influencing because people inherently don’t want to change. It’s a law of nature. It’s also about doing the right thing for the customer every time, even if it means losing the sale.
Then I was promoted to a sales trainer. I had to learn how to train others. This is now a totally different skill set. Duplicating yourself in others means you have to know exactly what you’re doing to get success. I documented my entire process. I tried to put into words what I experienced in the field. How to handle all different scenarios and different types of people. My Emotional Quotient was high because I had studied Acting in college, but how do you teach that to someone else? This was the biggest challenge in sales training.
As a trainer, I would earn override commissions on their sales. So if I could train 10 people to do half of what I was doing, it was like having three of me in the field. And I did. And our sales when up to $4M year.
After another year I move up to sales management as Regional Vice President of Sales. Now I would have to train other trainers, recruit new agents onto the team and open up channel partners through business development efforts. I read all the sales management and leadership books because, again, this was a totally new skill set. I had to be a leader more than a prod