One Sunday, we were talking and, before I knew it, the “bet” was on. Being 17 and not particularly bright, I had told them I could sell more than any of them that day. The race was on.
It was busy. I did not stop moving for about five hours. After the store closed, we ran the numbers on the cash register. I, the 17 year old, female, sales inexperienced, naïve, temp won by a respectable margin. I learned a lot that day about sales, myself, customers, and sales people.
As the song from the musical Gypsy says, “You gotta have a gimmick.” I was an adorable, slender, energetic, good-natured, smiling girl. The most important adjective is “girl.” That was my gimmick, and they had figured I was too inept to use that to my advantage. I was not flirtatious or suggestive in any way. For heaven’s sake, I was 17 and, for the most part, in the company of much older men. I did not have to be those things. I just had to be a “she.”
The second reason I was successful was far more important. I did not need the money. I was not depending on a paycheck that would reflect my sales success. It was just a game for me. The others in the department ate what they sold. They paid their mortgages, fed their families, and kept their households afloat. It mattered to them, and they were competitive. They needed to make those sales numbers, and they knew it.
That fact was critical. I did not need the money, and they did. That was the all-important, vital, important, essential reason I had succeeded. Being a girl was a gimmick, but not needing the money is what made the difference.
What that experience taught me was that if you want to succeed, you have to convince yourself it will not kill you if you do not. It needs to be a bit of a game. There are many important skills possessed by the successful sales person but that is, perhaps, the most important.
I think it is most closely related to a trait that makes for the most successful golfers. Every stroke has to exist alone. If it stinks, forget it. It is over and done. Do not let it haunt the next shot. If it is great, forget it. You do not want to be over confident. Each shot should stand on its own.
That is how each sale should be. You do not require it. It would be nice, but it is not going to change your life. When you are not desperate, you have a better chance of success.
This was just one of the lessons I learned from that job. If you are looking for real-life experiences that will help you do better at whatever you do, make sure you include a sales job. It will become an important part of who you are, and what could be a better recommendation than that?