Sales and The Olde Sea Dog

27 01 2011

Before he had kids, my Dad was a pirate.  Not a bad pirate, no plundering or pillaging, but a pirate nonetheless.  He would sail the high seas for months at a time, he would battle gangs of evil seafaring scoundrels.  He boarded wooden ships under the cover of darkness.  He struck swords with treacherous criminals and angry villains.

My Dad fought tirelessly against the scallywags of the sea, but he never, ever won.  No, he was always captured, beaten, and forced to walk the plank!  Somehow he managed to escape and return home to my Mom.  Then every few months he had to go back to the ocean and continue the fight, for he never quite conquered his foes, he never completely bested his enemies – those scurvy dogs!

And so went the narratives every night after dinner.  My brothers and I finished our meals quickly so we could hear my Dad tell his tall tales.  We hung on his every word.  We listened intently as the old man would weave a web of fiction so thick you could touch it.  I don’t think I even realized the pirate chronicles weren’t true until I was about 10 years old.  And then it dawned on me – if the stories were made up, why not be the hero?  Why did he always lose in the end?  I mean really, it’s a fictional story you are telling to your kids – why not set yourself up as the swashbuckling version of Rambo and win night after night?

My Dad is a true Sales Professional, and not in the caricatured opinion of the buying public.  Dale White is not pushy and he is not slick.  He is a man that understands the value of hard work, honesty, integrity, and relationships.  He wakes up at the crack of dawn, straps on his tie, hits the pavement, and does it with consistency.  With that approach he has already differentiated himself from most of the so-called sales professionals.  Aside from all that, my Dad does the one thing that even the best sales people are often unable or unwilling to do – he leaves his ego at the door.

I know thousands of sales people, and I have heard all the excuses:

“Cold-calling is dead” they say,

“I need to do extensive research before I can act,” they procrastinate,

“My network will support me,” they fool themselves.

I have been guilty of it myself.  Not Dale White.  He is not too good to knock on strange doors.  He is not above calling someone he’s never spoken to.  When his father was in poor health, my Dad took a sales job that was far beneath his talent and experience level just so he could relocate to the small town where my Grandpa lived.  Did his ego prevent him from strapping it on every morning in that situation?  Absolutely not!

It is the same reason he never needed to proclaim victory in the pirate stories.  The goal was to entertain his sons, not to make himself out to be the hero – and we were certainly entertained.  The result is the only thing that matters.  Sales is not glamorous, it is not easy, and it is not about the sales person.  If you are not willing to storm the ship and get battered about by the power of the waves, then Sales is probably not for you.  But if this is the profession you choose, then follow the example of my humble father – don’t let your ego get in the way of your success.



14 responses

27 01 2011

Great blog, Brad!!! Dad will love it! It’s too bad that you had to learn that he never was a pirate. However, take comfort in knowing that your Mother is a Goddess is absolutely the truth!!!

27 01 2011
Brad White

Mom, you are a Goddess in any story – and that’s not fiction!

27 01 2011
Kelly White

Brad are you saying that dad really isn’t a pirate, and those stories were for entertainment purposes only? Man, I need to go rethink my career choice of following in his footsteps. I wonder if they accept partially tested peg-legs at Salty Sam’s pirate supply?

Seriously though, dad is a man amongst men, and an excellent example for us all, salespeople or otherwise.

Go dad, go Brad, go people!

27 01 2011
Brad White

Kelly – you, Brian, and I are the luckiest guys on the planet to have a live-in role model like Dad.

27 01 2011

What a wonderful tribute to your dad! I didn’t want you to think that this post went unnoticed by anyone but your family-it was!

My dad also was in sales as was my mom. I watched and learned from them too. But I insisted that I would never ride the roller coaster and went and had myself educated as a psychologist–only to find that no agency wanted their psychologist to “sell” them on new ways of doing things or on her skills. I told them that I thought sales were more a more honest way to make a living. They thought I as nuts–and here I am, 30 years later.

No pirates in my family, we are all roller coaster riders though!

27 01 2011
Brad White

Thanks for the feedback Holly – I appreciate that. Perhaps someday you and I should collaborate on a thread about the psychology of sales.

28 01 2011

I love this one!

30 01 2011
Adam S

Great tribute to your dad Brad. Something that you’ve inherited from him.. You’ve Always been true to yourself, and never compromised yourself for the sake of a sale, or relationship.

30 01 2011
Dale White

What an honor thanks so much!! I did not realize how much of an impact I had and Dad’s in general have on their kids. I am so proud of you and your brothers for many reasons but most of all is because you guys are such great Dads!

30 01 2011
Brad White

Thanks Dad. I agree that dads have such a big impact – much more than they are aware. If anyone is interested in reading more about fatherhood, I highly recommend following this blog:

30 01 2011
Tweets that mention Sales and The Olde Sea Dog « WHITE THREADS --

[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Scott Uber, Brad White. Brad White said: Ego vs. Sales – who will win? #sales […]

30 01 2011

Golly gee, just glad to be friends with The Old Sea Dog, his beautiful wife & awesome family!

31 01 2011
Kenny knespler

That is a spot on article on dale . Many years ago I met dale as he was a salesman for consolidated freightlines and made a call on a business i managed he became my favorite salesman and one of my best friends I love him like a brother

1 02 2011
Brad White

Hey Kenny, thanks for commenting. Most people hate sales guys. With that in mind, it is pretty amazing that the two of you became the friends that you are.
Good to hear from you – hope you’re doing well.

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