Overview and Introduction

If opportunity doesn't knock, build a door.

—Milton Berle

In 1975 I sat across from a district manager for Nestlé interviewing for my first job in sales. A friend from college had recommended me, and he was already working in a similar position for the company.

Forced to drop out of college during my junior year because my mother had died from breast cancer and my father, a physician, had undergone quadruple bypass surgery, my only relevant job experience had been as a senior secretary for several stockbrokers at a regional firm. After an extensive interview, the district manager thanked me for applying for the position and said, “I'm sorry, but I can't offer you the job. You have a lot of the qualifications we're looking for, and you come highly recommended. However, you have no sales experience.”

Arguing, I explained that I would work hard, and couldn't he please just give me a chance? I could see that the more I begged the more certain he'd become that he'd made the right decision. As I walked out of the building, feeling totally dejected, I realized I had gone about the process completely wrong. I hadn't been able to close the deal because I hadn't positioned myself properly.

I was so busy thinking about me and what that job would do for my dwindling bank account that I never really talked about what I could do for him or, better yet, what I could do for his company. I resolved then and there that I would do what it took to get the necessary sales ...

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