If you’ve ever seen the Boiler Room movie, you’ll have an excellent picture of what our sales floor was like. 50+ sales reps hitting the phone, standing up, pitching and closing.
One day our VP of Sales said we had a guest speaker during lunch “so don’t go anywhere”.
Turned out to be a sales rep for Brian Tracy. He came in and gave a very uplifting, motivational sales speech about how Brian Tracy took him under his wing and how he was now making megabucks.
I was excited and wanted to know more. Who doesn’t love a success story?
The meeting came to an abrupt end when the Brian Tracy rep started talking about how Brian would be in town this week at the Tampa Convention Center (this week… as in, not on the weekend. As in, during the workweek) and said tickets were $399 per person but he had group rate tickets for 20 or more people at $199 each…
As some of my co-workers and I started to express interest, our VP quickly came in, shut the pitch down and promptly threw the Brian Tracy sales rep out the door.
We were told, “well, that was nice, let’s all get back to work”.
I went up to my VP and expressed interest that I wanted to go and was wondering if the company would pay for it. After all, the better I do, the more money the company makes, right? I mean, it’s in their best interest as well, and surely the company can easily afford the price of admission more than I could.
The request was shut down immediately. I was told the company can provide all the training I will ever need.
Now, in fairness, the company did have an excellent sales training and onboarding process. However, I don’t care how great a company’s training is, sometimes you just need to hear a different voice with new ideas.
So, I decided I would pay for it myself and asked for that day off so I could attend.
The answer was a resounding “NO”, which looking back, I’m not sure was legal being I was a straight-commission sales rep, but let’s move on.
Not one to be told “no” to something I believe in, I hunted down the Brian Tracy sales rep and told him I want to go – my numbers are down and I want to be better.
$199 was a lot of money for me (we are going back maybe 18 or 19 years) but if he was willing to do the 50% off group rate price for just me, I would sign up.
We did the deal and I called in sick and went to the Brian Tracy seminar and loved every minute of it. Loved it so much that at the end of the seminar, I bought $500 worth of audio tapes (I had to put them on my credit card and no, I didn’t ask my wife and yes, I had a lot of explaining to do when I got home)
I listened to those tapes day and night. In the car on the way to work and during lunch. I would wake up early and pop a VHS tape in (Google it) of his that I bought and would listen/watch while I had breakfast before work.
I was excited to get to work and my numbers showed. The phone no longer felt like a 25lbs weight. I was hitting the phones and making sales. Enough to recoup my expenses for the ticket and the tapes.
But here’s where the real benefit came in… There was tension with my company because I took time off work to go to the seminar. It got so bad, I had enough and quit. I had no fallback plan and we just signed on to buy a house.
The tension at home was now an all-time high and my sales manager from the job I just left said I will never be able to go anywhere to make better money elsewhere because I never went to college. He said no one would hire me.
Panic was setting in. No job. I just signed paperwork for a home. And a 2-year-old to feed.
My now Ex-VP of Sales called me over that weekend and said why don’t I come back and we could start fresh.
I went against my better judgment and went back to work the following Monday only to be told after the morning meeting that I had to “apologize” to the sales reps for “walking out” and I would have to apologize to my manager for the “drama” I created.
They were trying to make an example out of me in order to keep other sales reps in line and afraid to try and leave.
I wasn’t having it. I said to the team while staring at my manager in the face:
“I apologize if wanting to be a better salesperson, and not allowing management to manipulate and bully me, offended anyone here” and then I walked out to never return.
The panic attacks came in waves again. I was gripped with fear for 15-minutes and then a feeling of euphoria would come in for a few minutes and then the panic attacks would swing back in.
I did the only thing I knew to do when faced with a problem: I went to the book store (there was no Google back then)
Not looking for anything in particular but hoping something would jump out – and sure enough, it did… I saw a book called “who moved my cheese: an amazing way to deal with change”.
I bought it and read it in about 45-minutes time frame and it gave me the courage I needed to go out there and get a better job.
Now here’s where things get really good…
Not only did I get a better job in a better environment, but I also started to learn new things about business.
Now, this was as the Internet boom was taking off. Money was flying everywhere.
After about a year, I got wind of another company and the potential for more money so I went there only to have the bottom fall out a few months later. The dot.com financial crisis was about to hit full tilt.
So, I had to find another job and I did to pay the bills and it was a good job but I had a business idea in mind.
To make a long story short, I worked the candle at both ends. My day job of selling and then I would work on my company at night… sometimes till 3 am, get a few hours of sleep and then go to my day sales job.
Within one year, I had to tell my boss I needed to leave. It was costing me money working for him. I needed to focus on my company that I had started, full time.
Keep in mind the economy was crashing hard everywhere… people were begging for jobs and I was voluntarily walking away from a decent earning sales position with a stable company.
But I believed in my idea and I knew my sales skills were rock solid. I was so confident in my sales system, that no matter what it was that I was selling (IT, marketing, advertising, etc) I knew I would be successful.
And so, when all the other internet companies were failing, I started my own internet marketing company and within 5 years, sold it for $1.2 million bucks in a cash deal. My largest commission check to date.
I started the company with $100.
Here’s the whole point of this story…
It all started with my desire to want to be better. I asked the company to pay for the outside sales training and they said no. So, I did it on my own and that caused a trigger effect of events that at the time seemed rough, but ultimately lead me to the level of success I was always after.
There’s a saying in the gym I go to:
“It’s not how bad you want it, it’s how hard you are willing to work for it”
I would like to add “how much are you willing to risk for it?”
There’s no reward waiting for you if you’re sitting on the sidelines.
I would hate to think how my life would have turned out if I didn’t make that one decision to reach into my own pocket and make the investment in myself.
I’m grateful to those who encouraged and taught me to risk it all and learn from mistakes in order to succeed.
In short, the “dream big” motto’s you hear from famous people… they told themselves to “dream big” before they were famous.
Just remember that.
Get off the bench. Make mistakes. Learn. Get BETTER. And then pass on what you’ve learned.
The clock is ticking.
– Michael Pedone
Michael Pedone teaches inside sales teams how to pick up the phone and close business. He is the CEO/FOUNDER of SalesBuzz.com – An online sales training company.
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