The family values you are raised with are fine for social settings, but they can be deadly in the business world. Imagine, for example, a company president gathering all the employees around to announce that, despite everyone’s best efforts, the company won’t be able to make payroll that week. Continue to work hard, the president says, and everybody might get paid in two or three weeks.
That kind of excuse might work at home over most domestic issues but not in the workplace, says Andy Gole, sales expert and founder of Bombadil LLC ( www.bombadilllc.com) in Martinsville. “In the business world, you have put in your best effort, yes, but you also have to do or die. You must integrate both attitudes in order to succeed.”
This attitude is part of Gole’s “universal principles of persuasion,” which he has codified into a universal basis for success in selling. People think they are being “pushy” by explaining why a prospect might need a product or service, he explains. “They think it is socially inappropriate. But you need a paradigm shift. If you don’t make your case, you’re not even in the game. A business must develop a legal and ethical method to make each payroll.”
Gole will be a panelist during a “How to Make it Rain in a Drought: A Special Economic-Recovery Presentation” by the New Jersey Institute for Continuing Legal Education on Tuesday, November 23, at the New Jersey Law Center in New Brunswick.Cost: $169. Visit www.njicle.com.
Born in Brooklyn and raised in Queens, his favorite subject in school was math. Neither of his parents had gone to college by the time Gole finished high school, But they offered vital values that shaped Gole’s character.
“My mother stayed at home until I was about 16 and then decided she wanted to get a college degree,” he recalls. “She had a remarkably strong character. I don’t think she finished high school with an academic degree so she had to get that before she started college. She became a special education teacher and eventually got her master’s degree. She accomplished great things.”
Gole credits his mother for her desire to achieve her goals. His father “pulled himself up by his bootstraps” and rose to become vice president of a sleepwear company in New York. “He worked in sales and, along with my mother, ingrained this do-or-die quality in me,” Gole says. “I’ve written columns in publications about both my parents and the values they instilled in me.”
Gole graduated from SUNY-Binghamton with a bachelor’s in economics in 1975 and from NYU with an MBA in 1982.
“I always was interested in math and thought I’d become an economist,” he says. “Economics appealed to me because of its system building for thought. It developed in my brain the building modes and systems, the thinking capabilities that I use in my selling system today.”
While Gole did not start off selling, he eventually sold himself on it. At 27 he found himself as a pricing and planning manager at Standard Container. The company was sold and was going to relocate to Atlanta. However, Gold didn’t want to go. Because of his position, he had access to the company’s salary records. He had seen that, after executives, the highest paid employees were in sales. “I approached my mentor at the company and discussed how I wanted to stay in New Jersey and to go into sales,” he says. “I knew nothing about selling, where to go, or how to do it.”
One of his company’s products was ammunition boxes designed for the U.S. Army. Gole’s boss suggested he try to sell them as consumer products. So Gole left the company, remained in New Jersey and decided to target sporting goods stores in New York. He tore a page from the phone book’s yellow pages and went cold calling to one store after another. His efforts were usually in vain.
But Gole persisted and took other odd items, such as lard containers, and converted them into novelty items that he tried to sell. Eventually, he learned how to sell and became quite good at it. He traveled the country, parlaying his budding success into a multi-million-dollar business.
A customer is earned, not granted. “The first and hardest lesson is to make a paradigm shift,” he says. “You’ll never get a lick of business if you assume that a prospect has a serious intent to do business. You must earn the right to do business with a prospect.”
Too often, a sales person will ask a prospect, “What keeps you awake at night?” Gole says. “You can’t ask that too early, it would be like asking a stranger what he’s worth.”
Lawyers, accountants, and other professionals are often their own biggest impediments to success. “An architect will say he went to school to learn how to design buildings, not to sell,” says Gole. “Many professionals think they are outside the world of business.”
They don’t believe you. The second flaw is assuming the prospect will readily believe the sales person. “I’ve had prospects check as many of 10 references of mine,” Gole says. “You have to be prepared to withstand withering skepticism. The burden of proof is on you, not on the prospect. Be prepared to prove your case.”
Don’t call us . . .. The third flaw is assuming the prospect knows how to make a decision and will call the sales person back. “The sales person has done dozens, hundreds, even thousands of sales,” Gole asks. “But how often do you make a decision about buying a house or hiring an accountant?”
All too often, the prospect will simply defer to the lowest price because he lacks the right information to make an informed decision. There is often a latent demand for products that goes wanting. “You don’t know what you don’t know,” Gole says. “Sales people must deliver a material difference. I help clients determine their material difference. There was only one customer for computers in 1945. With the invention of the transistor in 1954 and subsequent developments, the demand for computers grew.” Today’s ubiquity of computers could not have happened had salespeople not explained their potential to clients. Gole calls this “unexpressed demand.”
But sales gets a bad reputation and some of the blame can be placed on Willy Loman, the lead character in the play, “Death of a Salesman,” Gole says. “The play taught people to distrust sales people and we’ve accepted this image of an albatross around the neck of sales,” he says. “It’s insane. Salespeople are not losers. They are actually heroes. The salesman leaves the world as he knows it and goes against convention.”
And he makes it so that the company’s owner doesn’t have to say to employees on payday, “Sorry but you won’t be getting paid this week.”