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.








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