Next week, I will be formally retiring from my corporate position to focus solely on delivering on my mission of fulfilling the promise I made in 1997; to teach the lessons that my mentors taught me to the next generation of leaders.
I have been honored to work with Oracle in the healthcare industry, especially during the most challenging time healthcare has encountered during the pandemic. Understanding and being able to positively affect the most important outcomes my clients were striving to attain has been one of the most important things I have done after the Miracle on the Hudson.
Last week, I had my final face-to-face meetings with one of my clients. As we broke bread over fish and chips, I was asked if I had to distill how I was successful for 37 years in sales, what would it be? I had never been asked this question before, so I responded after taking a long drink of sparkling water.
When I started in sales, I began going door-to-door marketing Canon copiers out the back of a van in West Charlotte. You learn a lot when you get rejected 19 times out of 20. And it teaches you resilience which was a skill that I learned and used many times during my life, especially on January 15, 2009 and beyond.
My second position in sales I was asked to open up a new market with zero accounts. I had to figure out how to manage my time effectively as I had to drive a minimum of 180 miles a day with meetings and build relationships to accelerate opening doors in markets that had never heard of my company. Being able to build rapport quickly as a plane is sinking comes in handy.
When I got into enterprise technology sales, I learned how to work with an extended team and build a strategy to win. It was an eye opening experience. This skill set helped me as US Airways 1549 was sinking in 36 degree water in the Hudson River.
In the first position in my final corporate position, I was initially asked to open up a green territory in the southeast US. It took me a year to figure out the strategy but as I had always done, I went back to the blocking and tackling of selling and during a turbulent time in 2009, was able to have the largest sale in the industry at Oracle. Doing the right thing by my client served me as I was trying to get out of a sinking plane.
And during the final position I held at Oracle, after 23 months, we were able to develop a new client that was the third largest sale in our industry. Patience and delayed gratification were two skills that I learned during the rescue and after US Airways 1549.
I told my client, looking back there was one strategy that has endured from 1987 to today that has helped me be successful. There are many lessons I have learned but ONE stands out.
One of the things I love about what Larry Levine and Darrell Amy teach in Selling from the Heart, is just that. What stands out in the best of the best sales professionals is they start with their heart. They focus on being intentional about building relationships that are good for their client and help them attain their most important outcomes.
The one thing that has endured for almost 37 years in sales is what happened to me when I got to the exit door the first time on US Airways 1549 and something I have been intentionally focused on for over 37 years and learned when I was very young.
It is The Golden Rule; “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Do the Right Thing.
I know I have failed many times at this. But what I have noticed not only in my personal sales efforts but with the most successful people and companies is when they focus on the three most basic elements of the Golden Rule,
- Civility – What you say and how you say it does matter.
- Focus on the Common good – It cannot be all about “you.”
- Be Curious – There are so many good ideas out there.
they come out on top most of the time. They are servant leaders.
As we finished our seafood lunch, we shook hands and committed to stay in touch because when you are intentional about living the Golden Rule, you not only attain clients, you build friendships that last a lifetime.
And that is where the gold in all this is, in the lasting friendships with people who will have your back and advocate for you when you are not there.
A pathway to creating opportunity out of uncertainty is to focus on doing unto others as you would have them do unto you; do the right thing by your clients. When you do this, you not only have more certainty, you are creating value for others which lead you to create your own flight plan for your future!