Surprising Sales Call that Changed My Life…

About 30 years ago, I went on my first sales call. I was 9 years old! I shadowed my dad as he went door-to-door selling insurance solutions in Lebanon. During that time, Lebanon was in midst of a civil war, and jobs were scarce. But my dad always managed to find a job to take care of his family.

I don’t remember how I convinced my dad to take me on this sales call, but selfishly I wanted to go because he was meeting a potential customer at their beach house, and I wanted to spend an afternoon at the sea.

As we drove in the old red Datsun, I sat quietly listening to him recite some of his prepared notes. Watching him, I learned that winging it is not an option, and in his case, practice is key to survival!

As we made it close to the beach house, he said a little prayer. There was no chit chatting, for we both knew that it was showtime. He held his black Samsonite suite case in one hand, and my hand tightly in another.

I can tell he was nervous, but the minute he was in front of his customers, my dad transformed. He stood up straight, and with confidence, he greeted the husband and wife by their names and introduced me to them.

I remember how pretty the beach was, but I didn’t set a foot in it. I sat far enough where my dad wouldn’t see me but close enough for me to see and somewhat hear the conversation.

What I learned that day has stuck with me for decades in my sales career:

  1. Be on time—While none of us are intentionally trying to be late, being habitually late to a sales call/meeting makes one look disorganized and disrespectful—two deal breakers!
  2. Prepare—In one study, 74% of participants “cited higher win rates as the key benefit of account planning,”[1] yet this is a struggle to many reps.[2]
  3. Focus on needs—To do that requires us to engage in an authentic conversation and actively listen to uncover needs. According to CSO Insights, 52.4% of companies are struggling to accomplish this task. [3]
  4. Sell with integrity and deliver on your promise—As we walked to our car, I asked my dad how the meeting went. He replied… “I’ll sleep good tonight knowing that I did my best to take care of this family,” a statement that he consistently used throughout his life.

What are some lessons you’ve learned as a child that you use to this day?

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