The Sales Lesson From A Real-Life James Bond

By Praveen Puri

When I was in my early 20's, and working at my first job after college, I met a rich Italian salesman who lived a James Bond lifestyle.

I was at the small North American sales and support office for a much-larger German company. We sold machinery for the packaging industry, and had a salesman with a mechanical engineering degree - who knew our products technically.

We weren't making enough sales - so our company's CEO decided to send their top European salesperson (the Italian) for a year.

He was in his 50's, divorced, and traveled the world - living a life of fast cars and women from many different countries. His exploits were legendary around the company.

He easily outsold our regular sales person.

I became friends with him and found that he wasn't technical at all. Instead, his gift was that he could speak 6 languages fluently - to the point where he could think in them.

He gave me the following Sales Training:

1. Selling is your most important job. From 9am - 5pm (when customers were in their offices), he was always on the phone. He did his routine paperwork before 9 am or after 5 pm.

2. Sell yourself first - He developed a relationship with the prospect.

3. Sell the need for your product second - he educated the customer on why they should have a machine like the one we sold, and how it could help their business.

4. Finally, sell your specific product - after the customer trusted him, and decided that they should have a machine, he would try to sell them one of ours.

5. Be patient - he took a very long-term view. Our German equipment was the best quality-wise, and would last for decades, but some Asian machines cost half as much (but only lasted a few years). Many of his prospects decided to go with the cheaper machines. He told them that they were taking a short-term view, and that they would change their mind. He kept in touch with them and, sure enough, they ended up becoming our customer.

In summary, he acquired leads, and then converted them to prospects. He was willing to build a relationship with them - even if it took years to make a sale.

P.S. I last heard about him about 5 years ago. He got remarried, bought an expensive log home in Wisconsin, and had it shipped and rebuilt in Andorra (a tax haven country between Spain and France).

Praveen Puri has almost 20 years of trading and investment experience - including serving as a consultant to major insurance companies, banks, and the Chicago Board of Trade. He writes about business, trading, and finance on his Simple Trading System blog.

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