My second job ever, was as a commissioned salesman at Sears. I sold vacuum cleaners, microwaves, and sewing machines. I was a naive 16 year old and my philosophy as a salesperson was simple: Listen to what my customer wants and how much they can afford, and do my best to find them a product that meets that overlap. I thought that was a pretty good strategy. However, my coworker who had been there for many years didn’t roll like that. She believed in the up-sell. Get them to buy everything she could. She was a good at selling things. Did she always have the customer’s best interest in mind? Ahhhh… I don’t think so.
I was dead set against selling people things that they didn’t need. She was cut throat. There were times where I would literally see a customer walk onto the floor and as I would walk towards them, she would cut in front of me and, literally, intercept the customer. Her husband had played college football so I guess she knew how to read routes. LOL.
As a teenager, I knew this lady was wrong, but I didn’t have the confidence at the time to call it out. How do people become okay with this type of behavior? It seems really simple to me: ‘Do the best you can to get the customer the best solution for their needs, desires, and budget’. I suppose the challenge in this strategy is having the faith that doing what’s in the best interest of the customer will ultimately pay greater dividends in the long term.
I call this short term patience for long term speed. That was 20 years ago that I worked with that woman at Sears. She spoke to me so kindly but I didn’t trust her as far as I could throw her. She was dirty and 20 years later that’s what I remember about her. Her short term impatience has created a long term damaged reputation in my view.
Reputation is so powerful. We can lose everything but if we still have a solid reputation, opportunities still come. Have the patience to do things right up front and in the long run that discipline leads to more progress and opportunities. I don’t know anything about sales but I figure that doing the best I can, to do the right things for others will always win in the long run.
I’ve had many jobs in the last 6-7 years since leaving the Army. Doing ‘this or that’ to make ends meet as I worked on building a business. I’ve also been offered lots of jobs in various fields: Medical Device Sales, Fire Fighting, Technology Sales, Leadership Instruction, Police, Teaching, Personal Training etc. I’ve had people ask me to life coach them when I don’t even offer that as a service. As far as I can tell, those part time jobs and job offers have been predicated on how people know me as a person. Words like disciplined, reliable, and personable come up. Reputation creates the opportunities but in order to stake your income on reputation you have to have a long-term mindset about income and you have to believe that caring about people will always win in the end.
We can be taught how to do anything, but the karmic nature of doing the right thing for others is something we ultimately must make the choice to believe… in my opinion. My old coworker could look me in my face all day and tell me she was all about the team and the customer but her actions told me she believed in dollars. I believe in money as well, but a reputation costs way too much to sacrifice in the short-term and it’s infinitely valuable in the long-term. Short-term Patience, Long-term Speed.