Forty-nine years ago I decided to pursue a career in business. Selling was not really on my radar. My vision was putting deals together and making things happen.
I took business classes, accounting classes, advertising classes, management classes, marketing classes and even classes dealing with importing and exporting. I enrolled in every class I could conceive of that would educate me in business. Strangely though, I didn’t take any sales classes. It has been a long time, but I don’t think there were any sales classes offered. My career in business turned out to be a career that involved selling, in addition to management and business. A career in sales changed my life and it has changed the lives of countless other people as well. Let me tell you the stories of three people who either chose, or fell into a career in sales. I have changed the names to protect their privacy, but the circumstances and details are real.
I met Bob for the first time when he was about twenty-four years old. He had enrolled in a community college to study business and prior to enrolling in college had worked construction. Bob was recently married and after taking a break from his studies, accepted a sales job that paid $12 per hour or about $25,000 per year. Like most salespeople, Bob had no sales training, but he was good with people and tried to do what he thought was best in bringing sales to the company. After Bob’s first year of selling, I started to teach and train him in the principles and skills of salesmanship. In Bob’s second year of sales he earned a commission of $48,000. Bob continued to study, learn and apply his skills and in his third year, he earned $92,000. Bob had a great fourth year in the sales arena with an income of $184,000. He has truly enjoyed the fruits of his labors and has provided for his family admirably. There are very few young men, twenty- eight years of age making that kind of income. A career in sales has changed Bob’s life forever.
Let me tell you about Sally. Her story is an emotional one for me, one that could only have come about through a career in sales. Sally was a single parent, raising three children and struggling to put food on the table when I first met her. Her life, and that of her family, was one of constant challenges and an attitude of just accepting the bad situations life had dealt her. Many people provided assistance and at the same time pitied her and suggested she would never rise above her dismal situation. Last year, as Sally applied the new sales principles and skills she was learning as part of her sales training program, she achieved a benchmark that others said she would never reach and one she never thought possible; Sally earned more than $50,000. This month she will earn more than $10,000 in commissions and should have a total income in excess of $75,000 for the year. With tears in her eyes she confided in me she was now in a position to reach out and help others financially. Only a career in sales has the ability to change a person’s financial situation as dramatically as Sally’s.
Mike had lived a challenging life, complicated by some of the demons of addiction. His employment, family, and self-esteem were all affected. At one point he was homeless, without family and penniless. He eventually found the personal strength combined with the support of others to piece his life together. He landed a sales job, conquered his demons, reached out to his children and discovered happiness again in his life. After working with Mike and helping him improve his natural sales skills, he more than tripled his income. In just a few short years, a career in sales allowed Mike to pull himself from the gutter, to a stable and happy life with an annual income exceeding $150,000. One of my favorite expressions comes from Don King, the famous boxing promoter. He would often say, “Only in America!” To Mike, I would like to say, “Only in America and only through a career in sales!”
To all of you looking to improve your financial situation and career track, let me say this: anyone can enjoy the same success shared by Bob, Sally and Mike. A career in sales provides greater potential with less risk than most any other opportunity. Selling isn’t easy, but if you will work hard, smart and receive the proper training, there is no limit to what you can achieve financially in a relatively short period of time.