Bill, another salesperson I admired, was extremely successful. Over time, he had become unconsciously competent — he was what many people call a ‘natural' salesperson.
Bill would come to the office early and either do photocopier demonstrations in the showroom or go out to service his territory. He was happy to work late into the night helping newcomers like me, but it had to be outside normal business hours, because daylight hours were for selling.
I was privileged to spend a lot of time with Bill, especially after I was given a new, more challenging territory.
Photocopier technology was changing rapidly around that time. We worked on commission only, and if we sold a machine over the minimum price set by the marketing department, we split the ‘overs' 50/50 with the company. So if a machine had a set minimum of $10 000 and I sold it for $12 000, I earned $1000 and $1000 went to the company.
One of our biggest competitors marketed a copier that caused me the most trouble. It was a heavily featured machine that retailed for $3000 less than the minimum price of our equivalent model. One day I asked Bill how he managed to sell our copier for $18 000 — way over our set minimum, and far more than the competitor's machine.
Bill gave me a lesson in selling that went something like this:
- He asked me how much a secretary was paid. When I was slow to answer this seemingly random question, he replied, ‘They earn 18 cents a minute.'
- He then asked me what I saw when ...