You Can Get a Good Look at a Butcher’s Ass…
Even if you’ve never sold a widget before, I hope you’ll find my sales voyage riveting enough to read past this first line. The simple theme to this post is what worked then, doesn’t work now. 1,282 miles over 2 days gives me some experience on the situation.
I woke up at 4:30am on Monday, slicked my hair back, and put on my lucky selling shirt and pants. I looked so money, I didn’t even know it (and neither did anyone else). I was traveling to North Carolina and looking to half cold call my way into new sales and half make more sales to existing customers. I’ve made trips all over the surrounding Pennsylvania area and this would be my first visit this far south.
I got to Raleigh, North Carolina at around 12pm and met up with a business owner who has been involved in the roofing industry for 40+ years. Him and my dad go way back and I’ve grown to admire his vision in creating a company from nothing. We talked about business relationships, products, deals, and past vs future times and I got a good understanding of this man’s journey through life. At the end of our time together, which was about 3 hours, he said, “Don’t take anything too seriously. You only get one shot at life.”
At this point it was near 4pm and salesman knows to quit before 4. I Googled a hotel in the area and found a Best Western for $61 dollars. It was a long day and I caught 2 hours of shut eye before waking at 7pm. I drove 20 minutes to a nearby park and went for a run. I snapped this pic and pondered everything about what I was doing on the road and in my life.
Another Day, Another Dollar
I woke at 6am and got some breakfast and plotted out my course for the day. Being able to plot your route is a necessary skill about being a salesperson. Some tips:
- Have an existing customer list and/or potential customers addresses
- Have a map of the area
- Get your GPS out and put each address in the GPS to know which order you want to visit each business
With seeing a mere single customer the previous day, I had a lot of stops on my plate. I started in Raleigh and found customers in the Duke (Durham), UNC (Chapel Hill), and Wake Forest (Winston-Salem) area along the way. My day concluded with a trip further south to Charlotte. Within the course of the day I had made at least a dozen stops and made one sale for $314. This was discouraging to say the least.
I had the opportunity to stay one more night and do similar visits the next day but I already knew what to expect. I drove 8+ hours home and arrived in my bed at 2:30 am.
Here’s what I learned:
The days of an individual salesman selling for a small business are over.
There is no more door to door. Business is done on a corporate level and smaller mom and pops are rapidly disappearing. If you are small, you flock to the internet. The business model for smaller company’s has to involve the internet or else they will be out of business in 5 years. Involving mobile to do business is truly the future.
The skill of getting in front of people and making sales still exists but the landscape has changed. 50 years ago consumers didn’t know what was happening down the block and now they know what’s happening on the other side of the world. Back then you maybe had 3 options for a product, now you have 300. The goal becomes showing the customer why your product would improve his work / life. If you can’t do that, you can’t sell shit.