Sell Less To Earn More

Sales Skills Help You Earn More Money Initially, most people will assume that I am implying that you will make […]

Sell Less To Earn More

Sales Skills Help You Earn More Money

Initially, most people will assume that I am implying that you will make more sales with more skills, and your income will rise proportionately.

That isn’t what I mean.

I often write about the benefits of mastering a sales process. Yes, this helps you sell more. But, it also enables you to be a much sought-after candidate in future jobs and promotions.

Everyone Is A Salesperson

The phrase "Nothing happens until a sale is made." is attributed to Thomas Watson, Sr, the President of International Business Machines (IBM) from 1914 to 1956. It’s important to know that Watson wasn’t a man handed his success by anything other than hard work, learned skills, and the kind of determination that creates moguls out of bankrupt butchers. That’s what Watson was when he joined the National Cash Register Company (NCR) as an inexperienced salesperson.

From Bankrupt Butcher to IBM CEO in 18 Years

The National Cash Register Company was very well known for its sales training program and the sales systems established by John Patterson. Watson acquired a mentor in the company and, under his guidance, flourished. Within a few years, he led various NCR divisions and firmly established himself as a leader in the company.

In 1914 (18 years after joining NCR), Watson joined the company that turned into IBM as a General Manager and was then given the helm as President. Under his leadership, the company doubled its annual sales to $9 million within a few years. He turned IBM into such a business powerhouse that believing that the company controlled such a considerable market share, the federal government filed a civil antitrust suit against it in 1952. When Wattson died in 1956, IBM’s revenues were $897 million.

Watson’s story is fascinating. I encourage you to read more about him in Kevin Maney’s book The Maverick and His Machine: Thomas Watson, Sr. and the Making of IBM.

How Is Wattson’s Storey is Relevant To Your Sales Career

While preparing this article, I considered the career path of the average salesperson. Recall that Wattson joined NCR as an untrained salesperson. He became an outstanding salesperson and one of NCR’s most successful salesmen.

What if Wattson had chosen to stop there? How would the future of his career (and business in the United States) be different if he continued selling cash registers? I can only speculate, but I feel confident that he earned more as the head of IBM than he ever would have as the top salesperson of any company.

In reality, Wattson decided to sell less (at least sell the physical product less) and concentrate on using his skills to lead.

What is your career path?

Is your goal to continue to increase your sales numbers and become the top producer?

Is your goal to take a leadership position, perhaps as a sales manager, and teach people what you learned? To mentor recruits and give them a foundation to build their book of business?

Is your goal to manage the managers? To identify salespeople with leadership abilities and give them the tools to teach what they know. Then to hold them accountable for their team’s production?

Is your goal to help steer the trajectory of the company? To interpret what you’re seeing in the trenches into a vision beyond the right now and advise senior leaders on your observations?

Is your goal to take the helm yourself? To be confident enough to hire powerhouse managers and give them the freedom and confidence to offer you their unfiltered advice so you can make decisions confidently?

Nothing Happens Until A Sale Is Made.

Wattson knew that it all starts here, with a sale. Regardless of your industry, a sale must be made to set anything into motion. Without a sale, you have no revenue; without revenue, you have no business. Then he took that and created one of the most effective sales programs in history.

And a career that saw him develop from bankruptcy to becoming one of the most influential businessmen of his time.


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