Larry Litchfield taught me something vital more than a few years ago. I have often wished I could find him and thank him. Way back then, when I was first starting out, my perception of how my sales day went consisted of three things.
First, the blast of energy I got from making the sale. Even today, so many years later, I still get that blast, and over the years, it has gotten better. But that isn’t what he taught me.
The second way I used to perceive my sales day consisted of the sheer boredom of waiting for someone to walk through the door. A few years later, and just before I met Larry, it was the sheer boredom of doing paperwork in the office, since I had now graduated from floor sales to outside sales.
The third way I used to perceive my sales day was the endless swapping of sales stories with fellow salespeople and reading endless books on how to make millions in sales. I must have read hundreds of books and attended an equal number of seminars.
That was pretty much it: occasional blast of energy, boredom, war stories, and reading. Then I met Larry. I’d like to tell you that Larry was an old pro, but he wasn’t. He had been in sales for only two years. At that time, I had been in sales for seven years.
But you just knew Larry was successful. He oozed success like some people ooze charm. Nice clothes, nice car, but nothing obvious. Prospects would line up to talk with him. I kidded him one day about having a magic charm.
Larry’s message to me was simple. To make sales you have to be in front of prospects. The more time you are in front of prospects, the more sales. Doing anything other than getting in front of prospects was, from his perspective, a potential waste of time.
“Reading more than one book about selling enriches the author, not you. Swapping war stories passes time you could be in front of prospects. Are you in sales to kill time and enrich others or make yourself money?”
Larry was right. Simple lesson—the more time in front of prospects, the more money.
Larry had a point. While educating yourself has a place, too often the education process becomes the salesperson’s acceptable excuse why more sales aren’t being made.
The thinking goes like this: If I want to make more sales, I have to learn really good techniques. To learn really good techniques, I have to spend more time educating myself. Then I’ll be prepared to make the sales.”
What’s left out of this is that sales don’t happen during the time you are educating yourself. Nor do they happen in your home at night while reading the latest sales gospel. Where do sales happen?
In front of the prospect. Get in front of the prospect.
“Ah,” you might say, “I’m educating myself to learn how to get in front of the prospects on a more regular basis. Once I do that, I will get in front of the prospects because I’ll be better equipped.”
In other words, as Larry might state it, “You’re too busy now learning about sales to take the chance of actually making one.”
Harsh? Perhaps. But the last I heard of Larry was that he had a home in Hana on the island of Maui and a ranch in Utah.
Reading about selling is like reading about snorkeling at the Red Beach in Hana. Sounds good, wish you were there? While there may be some logistical problems between you and snorkeling in Hana, there is nothing stopping you from picking up the phone right now and selling. Nothing at all.
Well, there is one thing; if you have already made the decision not to sell right this moment. That’s the difference between Larry and 99 percent of the salespeople in the world. It would never occur to Larry that he couldn’t sell. Anytime, anywhere, to anyone.
Most salespeople can easily come up with 100 reasons why they couldn’t sell right now. I think it would be difficult for Larry, if you could corner him, to come up with a single reason.
If you are waiting to sell until later, you’ll never sell anything today.