I walked into the small, one-man daylight basement office excited but apprehensive. This was my first go at office equipment sales, my first “cold call” in my brand new territory … in this case a section of Vancouver, B.C.
This was also my maiden voyage on the turbulent seas of commerce, my appalling ignorance of which left me to navigate those waters without compass, sextant, chronometer or stars.
And so it was as I walked into that humble real estate office, I felt like I could have been walking into the corporate headquarters of General Motors … I’d never had occasion to consider the difference between the two before. So, I tugged at my tie, put on my best smile and gripped my briefcase a little tighter and walked in.
An older gentleman who’d been bent over some paperwork at his desk slowly straightened up, spun around in his oak office chair, and gave me a good long look. Then he gave me a big, broad welcoming smile.
“Well, son. What can I do you for?” he said walking over to greet me.
“I’m here to show you how your business can save some money starting today,” I optimistically blurted while shaking his had. “I’m Joe and I’m with Monroe The Calculator Company!”
“Well now, that’s great! But, you know, I’m pretty well set with calculators and the like. How long you been doing this son?” he replied.
“I just started,” I confessed.
“Well! Really? Well I’m mighty impressed. And do you know why?” he queried.
“Because you’ve got it! You’re brave!” I looked puzzled. “You know there are mighty few people who can actually make “cold” sales calls comfortably?” he went on. “You know how unusual that is?” … and thus he began a monologue that continued through a couple of cups of coffee. During that short time, though total stranger he was, for that brief time he became a mentor to me.
I listened intently to his views on business, sales techniques, differences in businesses to look for, and how to be a bit more discriminating than I was that morning … which is to say I needed to look at disparate businesses and endeavors and assess their calculating machine needs.
His words were like water falling in a desert. As I left his office I felt I’d received a fantastic introduction to business. And I learned a few things that I filed permanently in my sales technique repertoire from that day forward.
I learned that business people love the chance to talk about their business. And if you’re patient, and if you ask the right question at the right time, they’ll tell everything you need to know to have a good chance to make a sale.
I also learned that people love to teach what they’ve learned. In that it’s how human kind ascended the ladder from swamp creature to king of beasts, I suppose it’s part of our DNA. And that first-call-stranger of mine led me to one of my most cherished business maxims … you don’t have to know something, you just have to find someone who does!
I actually sold a few machines in my first month. But better than that, I starting looking at businesses strategically … in terms of calculating machine needs. Following well-targeted “cold calls,” within a year I’d a file of great contacts, people who knew how … people in diverse fields such as mechanical engineering, accounting and education (Simon Fraser University as well as high schools, public and private).
I’d give these people free use of the newest integrated circuit wonders coming out of Monroe, which was like giving catnip to a cat. They’d toy with the latest machines for countless hours, after which, when I came to retrieve it, they’d give me a comprehensive lesson of great applications for it.
I found my first few months in the field a fascinating experience. It wasn’t love at first sight, but it did offer a learning environment quite different from that of Berkeley.
However, my formal education had not reached a dead-end. After a few weeks I was off to East Orange, New Jersey for a week at Monroe Corporate Headquarter’s Sales School!
DON’T MISS CHAPTER 6 OF “A NEW LIFE IN A NEW LAND” … AND IF YOU’D LIKE TO FOLLOW MY BLOG SIMPLY CLICK ON “FOLLOW” … YOU’LL FIND IT ON THE UPPER RIGHT OF THIS PAGE. I HOPE YOU ENJOYED IT!