The most financially successful people I have known during my lifetime have been great salesmen (saleswomen). Why would I say that? It's simply a fact that someone could be the most talented surgeon in the world, but if no one knows who he (or she) is, his (or her) chance of being financially successful is small. Successful people sell themselves and their talents to the world. In today's rapid fire social media world most try to get ahead of their competition by using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other sites. But is that the key to becoming financially successful?
i started my business career in the late 60s. I had just returned from an overseas tour with the US Army and had completed my 2 year obligation from college ROTC. My job title was Stockbroker. A Stockbroker's job was to sell stocks to the public. Unlike today, the stock markets back then were totally dominated by individual investors. Institutional investors, such as mutual funds, were a very small percentage of the volume on the stock exchanges. I learned very quickly that if I was going to be successful selling stocks to the public, I needed a long list of clients with money to invest. But I didn't know anyone with money to invest. What did I do then and how does that relate to sales people in today's social media world?
Let's start with becoming successful in sales in 2015. Is social media the answer? Yes and no. Yes it is necessary and yes it is a large contribution to a successful career. But no it is not the total answer to success. To become totally successful, a sales person must be able to talk. Communicating with words, in person or via phone, is as important today as it was in the 1960s.
Now let's go back to my days as a young Stockbroker. As I mentioned, I didn't know anyone that had money to invest. So I started asking around, who are the people with money to invest that I can try to introduce myself to? One of the names that popped up was the name of a very large real estate developer in Florida, a man named L C Judd.
As it turned out, L C Judd's office was in Fort Lauderdale and only a 20 minute drive from my office. So I decided to call him on the phone. I looked up his number in the phone book (believe it or not, there was a book that came out annually that had everyone's number listed in it). The call was answered by a pleasant female that said "Good morning, Mr. Judd's office". I responded, " Good morning, my name is Tom Noonan and I would like to speak with Mr. Judd". Her response "What is the reason for your call Mr. Noonan?". My response, "I'm a new Stockbroker in town and I just wanted to introduce myself to Mr. Judd". She responded, "I'm sorry, Mr. Judd doesn't take calls from Stockbrokers, good bye."
I waited a couple of days and then came up with my plan. I drove over to his office building in late morning. I walked inside. It was a large room with many private offices off the main room. I walked around the main room until I came to the office that had a sign on the door that said L C Judd. I looked at the woman who's desk was in front of his office. I made a mental note of what she was wearing. I then went back to my car and watched the front door of the office building.
Sure enough, around noon, the woman who sat in front of L C Judd's office, walked out of the building. It was time to make my move. I went back into the building, walked over to L C Judd's office and knocked on the door. The door was open and L C Judd looked up and said " may I help you?" I responded, "Hi Mr. Judd, my name is Tom Noonan. I'm a new Stockbroker in town, and I just wanted to come by and introduce myself". His response, "Come in and have a seat. I've never had a Stockbroker come by to see me before" I knew the reason for that but decided to keep that to myself. We talked for almost an hour. He opened an account with me. I asked him if I could use his name as one of my representative clients in my search for new clients. He said, "I am a client of yours now and yes you have my permission to use my name". For years after that in my search for new clients I would drop the phrase, "I'm L C Judd's broker". More often than not people would say "You're LC Judd's broker?" in amazement. I would always respond, " Call his office and ask him if you don't believe me". My career began to expand, in no small part, because of that meeting with L C Judd.
In today's world, social media is important. There's no question about it. But personal meetings, phone calls, birthday cards and Christmas cards are equally important. Get out from behind your computer and get to know people in person. It still works.