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He Didn't Think A "Girl" My Age Could Build a $40M Business: This was my response

He Didn't Think A "Girl" My Age Could Build a $40M Business: This was my response

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 producer. I had to show people a vision and convince them to come to a commission only sales position because the long-term payout would be worth it, and I had to be proof of that. I was faced with the new challenge of being perceived as just another icky, sleazy, annoying, independent sales opportunity.  I had to pay for an office for my team in the Financial District, provide phones and computers, and take out the garbage.

I transferred my sales skills to recruiting skills. Recruiting is a sale in itself. I was interviewing 20-50 salespeople a week. I learned how to predict sales performance based on this interview process. I later put that into an algorithm so I didn’t always have to be the one conducting the interviews. Once I learned that I had more predictable hires and invested in people who were most likely to perform. This had NOTHING to do with their past sales experience. I saw others make the mistake of hiring people based on experience alone and it rarely worked out.  It had everything to do with me and my trainer’s ability to train them and my ability to lead them.

I hired all kinds of people. All kinds. There are all kind of prospects out there after all. It makes me queasy to see how homogenous some sales teams are. Our team wasn’t going to be like that. I invested in sales recruiting fairs and online services. We interviewed thousands and trained hundreds.  I gave everyone who wanted one a chance.

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