What My Dad Taught Me About Sales and Life

what my father taught me

April marks the anniversary of my dad’s passing. I think often about the ways he influenced me over the years. He owned his own business and was in sales for most of his entire career.

One of my favorite stories about him takes place early in his career when he was interviewing for an assistant buyer position at Macy’s—a highly coveted role. Other candidates were being interviewed as well. When he called the decision maker to check in, he was told it could be a few weeks before he heard back.

Instead of saying, “OK, I’ll check back,” or “OK, I’ll wait to hear from you,” he said, “How about if I start Monday at 9 a.m.?” After a short pause, the decision maker said, “OK. See you on Monday.” My Dad started his job at Macy’s the following week.

I’ve used that technique twice in my career when applying for jobs, and it worked both times. I’ve used that technique to close sales in my business, too.

I tell this story because it characterizes so well the person he was and the influence he had on me. He was a creative problem solver who wasn’t afraid to put it out there and take a chance in the moment.

Lessons I learned from this story:

  1. Don’t give up. There is usually a way through—it just may require a little more creativity to find the answer which works. Too often people give up too soon, sometimes just before the finish line. This paves the way for the competition to come in and close deals.
  2. Assume Close. Using the “assume close” strategy can sometimes catch prospects off guard and yield the results you want. By assuming the next step is inevitable, it just may be inevitable. One well-chosen sentence is sometimes all it takes.
  3. Content + Delivery = Outcome. How a message is delivered—the tonality and the timing—is as important as the content. It’s what you say and how you say it that determines the result.

I encourage you to do something more with this article than simply read it and think fondly of my father. Use the technique for yourself or pass the article to someone you know who would benefit from reading it — job seekers, salespeople, business owners, sales leaders, etc. — so that my Dad’s influence can help others as well.


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