Five Invaluable Sales Lessons from Mom
Among the three children descendent of their DNA, my parents gave life to two successful salesmen. Mom is now 87 years old and still very sharp. As I look ahead to Mothers’ Day and think back on what she has taught me, it occurs to me that she was my first sales manager, with many of her parental lessons able to translate fully into the sales world.
Here, see what I mean:
1) Adapt—Mom is one of those “make lemonade out of lemons,” go-with-the-flow people. Three years ago, I took her to a James Taylor concert out at Tanglewood in Lenox, MA. The plan was to picnic on the lawn and sing along with each of his familiar tunes. When it started to rain. mom simply pulled her chair under the nearest tree, never complained, never missed a note, and kept singing.
Sales lesson: Things are not always going to work out as planned. You can let disappointment stop you, or stay focused on the goal and persevere.
2) Improve Your Skills—It was my mother who first gave me a copy of Dale Carnegie’s masterpiece, “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” She wanted me to learn how to listen more and I wanted to meet girls. Both skills were mastered. Wink, wink.
Sales lesson: The number one reason why someone buys from you is your ability to understand the buyer’s needs and then meet them with your solution. So seek first to understand, and then to be understood.
3) Patience, My Son—Farquharsons are known for their short fuses. After I had spouted off one too many times as a teenager, I remember my mom telling me that anger is a waste of energy. Worry, too. I now hear myself passing these lessons along to my girls, though I’m certain with far less eloquence. We spend a lot of time upset and troubled, but then when things work out, we look back and wish we hadn’t gotten so worked up.
Sales lesson: There is a lot of frustration in this job. Have faith that your efforts will pay off and remain focused on the activities. Don’t waste time worrying. Believe in yourself!
4) Try New Things—I can remember sitting opposite my mom at a restaurant in Sydney. She was eating something nasty and I sat there in amazement wondering if the waiter was just around the corner laughing at the tourist who took him up on his suggestion to try something local. I was still gun shy after a disappointing Vegemite tasting that same morning, but she finished the dish even though she didn’t really enjoy it that much.
Sales lesson: In the words of my friend Kelly Mallozzi, “If you keep doing what you’re doing, you’ll keep getting what you’re getting.” Voicemail, for example, is just one of several ways to reach a prospective customer. There are others. Try something new.
5) Enjoy the Journey—I’ve never met someone more focused on the here-and-now than my mother. While the rest of the world wants results, she is perfectly content walking along the road that gets her there. The rest of us lament yesterday and fret about tomorrow. Mom just strolls along and enjoys every minute of every day.
Sales lesson: Yes, the details are important, and yes, this is work, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. Be yourself. Be engaging. It’s OK to laugh and fail and fall down. Be human. What a shame it would be if you look back on your sales career 40 years from now and say to yourself, “I wish I had enjoyed it all more.”
So, there you go. Five sales lessons from my Mom that have helped me immeasurably are now yours. If you need more and decide to swing by my parent’s place in Boston, make sure to lock your car door. It’s not that the neighborhood is unsafe, but, rather, if you don’t, when you get back to your car the backseat will be full of fruit and vegetables courtesy of my Dad.
You have been warned!
Priscilla’s son can teach you how to sell more and better. Take Bill’s “Sales Challenge” program and drive your sales momentum. Go to www.thesaleschallenge.com for more information.