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Better Business Idea #50

Basic Training for Business Success

© 2001 by Michael C. Gray

June 29, 2001


Most people who are very successful in their business or profession share a common experience.

At some time, usually when they were working their way through school, they had the experience of selling "nose-to-nose, toes-to-toes with Mom and Dad" in the home.

Success in business or as a consultant requires understanding how the customer thinks and how to get agreement. There are excellent books on the subject, but there is no substitute for actual field experience to develop selling skills and the closing instinct.

Back when I was in college (in the early 1970s), I was attracted to sales because the income potential was high compared to hourly "burger flipping" jobs. I met a sales professional and asked him the best way to learn to sell. He recommended that I start with selling Fuller Brush products door to door. It was excellent experience. Today the "Fuller Brush person" who sells door to door is practically extinct.

Marketing guru Dan Kennedy recommends that people start with selling high-ticket items in the home, such as vacuum cleaners (a repair shop person said Kirby is best), cookware, encyclopedias (thanks to CDs and the internet, probably now extinct), fire protection, burglar alarms, water treatment, air conditioners, life insurance, etc.

Look for a company with a good sales training program and a good sales manager who will provide the support you need in the learning process. Sell on commission. Get tough with yourself.

Despite what the sales trainers say, some people do have more natural ability to sell. But even if you're not a "natural" sales person, you can still develop your sales skills until selling becomes more "natural" to you.

For most of our readers, this suggestion may be late in the game - although many people start sales careers late in life. But there may be a young person who looks to you for guidance. Experience in selling can be an invaluable part of an individual's education, and it's one of a few jobs that doesn't require a lot of experience to get started.

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Direct sales experience is important in building a successful business.


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Michael Gray, CPA
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