I’m on my first sales call and my boss is watching and the homeowner has made a decision – but I’m not sure what he decided!
No, the homeowner says; they don’t do any financing. “The home belonged to my father, who just passed away. We are taking over the asset and we want to do the maintenance it needs.”
“The house has some roaches…”
Yes it does.
I mention that I believe it saves you money if you get preventive maintenance done on a home pre-inheritance. Otherwise you pay taxes and it’s a better deal for you to do it ahead of time. He agrees. So I’m thinking Hey, pretty good – I got my pest control sale at rate card and maybe I’ll get it paid a year in advance. My boss will be happy.
So the shrimper goes, “Okay, I’ll buy the whole package. Let’s go ahead and do that. Can I write you a check?”
Cha-CHIIIIINGGGG!! Are you kidding me? All three services? Three grand? Holy guacamole!
My boss is about to fall out of his chair.
I am, too.
I’m about to close a $3000 deal from a measley pest control lead. That never happens. Never. Okay, sometimes, but not very often. It’s kind of a big deal.
My hands are shaking because I’m new and excited, but I can act, so I play it off. I waited as the customer did all the paperwork, collected a check, and the last thing you’re supposed to do before you leave the house is ask “Who else do you know who could use a service like this?” You know, ask for referrals. Nobody does it much in real life, but my boss is there – and who’s my audience? So I ask. “Who else do you know who could use a service like this?”
“My brother lives next door.” He says. “My dad owned his house, too, and he’s in the same situation as me. So we need to get all three services for him as well.”
No. Effing. Way.
At this point my boss’ head is about to explode. He can’t believe he sent his new guy on a lead nobody wanted and I could come back with not just a pest control deal but three deals on one house and three deals on another house. Six deals, all paid in advance.
My hand to God, that is exactly what happened. It was like the best kind of sale you could make.
That was my first sale at that company.
Actually it was my first six sales of that company.
Now, we go back to the branch. My boss takes me out to lunch because I just made him a pile of money, but as he’s buying me lunch he’s like that was the best sale I ever saw in my life. He is worshiping me. I’m the trainee and he is like “You’re the greatest!”
I kinda walked on water with him from then on.
What did I just do for him? Aside from giving him a bunch of money, and some great numbers for his month, and a great sale, he now has a story to hit his existing salespeople over the head with. “None of you wanted to run this lead! I gave it to him he came back with $6,000 worth of contracts!” That was like a week or two’s worth of work for those guys. Off of one appointment.
Done before lunch on my first day in sales.
So the salespeople all kinda hated me a little bit after that, but the manager loved me. I knew who my audience was. I’ll also pat myself on the back because that story got around. I became a little bit of a legend at that company, which was solidified a few years later when I went to their President’s Circle as a manager.
Now, I told you that sales story for a few reasons. One, to make myself look good. (It feels good, I admit, but it also helps establish my credibility.) Two, to not pre-judge opportunities. Three, to help you understand if you spend time in each role of a job to where you know that job, you can tell if someone else is or is not doing a good job when they are doing it for you. I went to President’s Circle at that company because I could do that.
One of the other things I learned was by doing each job for six weeks, you know that job. You don’t know it well enough to do it all day every day but you know it pretty darned good. You know it to where if somebody is not doing the job you can go out and do it with them because you’ve done it. You can tell from asking questions if they’re doing it properly. You can ride along with them or inspect their work and see if they know what they’re doing.
I went on to have a great career with that company, and the most important thing I learned was you don’t get to pick your opportunities. You have to make the most of every one you can, that’s obvious from that story.
What else you do is you don’t turn down an opportunity because what you think it might be. As an author, I do that all the time. It’s still is my worst attribute. Sometimes I think I’m too good for something. I’m not, and I need to constantly remember that. The people who are willing to try this, that, and then other thing, no matter how small, are the people who are successful. (I work with one a lot, and she inspires me.) Never forget that. I was talented in other ways, but anyone can have talent. What you need is persistence. That’s just you deciding not to quit when everybody else quits or when you really feel like quitting. Don’t listen to naysayers. What do they know?
Book writing is your business. If you learn how to write a book, how to make it read great, how to market it, how to do social media, how to build an author base; whether you choose to do those things yourself or not, learn them. Whether you’re successful at them or not and decide to hire someone else to do it, you’ll be able to tell if they are doing a good job. You’ll know if they’re earning their money or if they’re ripping you off. You’ll know if they don’t know what they’re doing. And as long as you’re not lazy, you won’t get ripped off.
You will hear zillions of horror stories about “I spent $5000 and I don’t own the rights to my book” and “it never sold squat and I had to go to court” or “I could buy half a pizza with my royalties.” That does not have to be you if you learn all the aspects of the job. What is the best way to do it? Do it yourself.
That is why traditionally published authors should go through the hoops of what an independent author has to go through. To learn all the things involved in the book selling business. Because traditional published authors have to go do book signings, too. They have to have an author base. They have to have a media platform.
Same stuff as indies.
The marketing department of your publishing company may decide your book should be action-adventure when you think it’s mystery. That happened a friend of mine. But if you don’t know, you don’t know. And if you haven’t even studied these things, you’re unaware of what you don’t know.
It’s like when you go buy a car and see there’s a dealer fee and undercarriage prep. Just say, “I’ll prep my own undercarriage, thank you.” You know?
Knowing what is involved is good; being able to DO what’s involved makes you a power to be reckoned with.
Even if you still hire someone else to do things, you will be able to manage them. And even if you go traditional where other people are making these decisions, you can insist on having some input. You can know that you do or do not want to continue doing business with this publisher because they do or do not know what they’re doing. On day one, when you know nothing, they know more than you and you should take their advice; but if you can do this yourself, then on day one you’ll know some things, too. So you can ask intelligent questions. You can follow up. You can verify. You can test. You can observe. And you’ll know if they know what they’re doing. You won’t have to wonder.
You won’t be sitting there helpless when nothing’s happening. You can assume the reason your book is delayed again isn’t because the author platform is weak, it’s because the publisher doesn’t have anything left in the budget. And you can ask. Because maybe the publisher across the street has better funding.
You may not want to be a control freak, but you might not want to be powerless.
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Dan Alatorre is the author of several bestsellers and the amazingly great upcoming sci fi action thriller “The Navigators.” Click HERE to check out his other works.