I got my first “real” job when I was 27. It was at the Chamber of Commerce. I was selling Chamber memberships. It was then that I knew I could sell. In my first year I broke every sales record they had had. I liked the Chamber, but I knew I couldn’t keep selling Chamber memberships forever. I was bored. Being 27 with only one year of selling experience, I didn’t have the resume for much of anything else. But, I knew I could sell.
About 11 months into the Chamber job, a well dressed, articulate gentleman walked into the Chamber interested in becoming a member. His name was Richard and he represented an IT consulting firm from Minnesota opening a branch in Denver. We sat down and I did what I did. I sold him. Part of my sale, even as a green kid with no experience, was to ask questions. In our meeting I learned what IT or technology was. It was 1997 and the IT industry was blowing up. I wanted to be a part of it. At the end of our meeting I asked him if they were hiring and he said yes. I said I want in.
With one years selling experience, no knowledge of the IT industry or how to sell in it, I didn’t even know what Y2K was at the time, I asked to be considered. Richard said he was impressed with me, but that I just didn’t have the experience, but that he would introduce me to the General Manager of the new Branch.
A month later, Mike the General Manager came to Denver. We met, and talked. I sold him on the benefits of the Chamber and why they needed to be at the level of membership they were and I gave him the VIP tour and presentation. At the end, the conversation turned to me. Mike said: “I understand you are interested in working for us.”
I said; “Yes.”
Mike was an approachable guy. You couldn’t help but like him. He was disarming and drew people to him. Mike looked at me and explained in a very considerate way that although he was impressed with me I lacked the experience he needed. He shared how he needed someone who could hit the ground running and drive revenue quickly and that once he found that person he would consider me. I looked at Mike and asked him a couple of questions. I asked him if he had found that person yet? He said no. I asked him if he had a pipeline of potential candidates. He said no again. I then said, “Mike, I understand your situation however I can sell. Everyday that goes by that you haven’t hired somebody is another day that I’ve learned more, become better and be making you money.” I said; “If you can’t find someone fast enough you will have lost that time I could have come up to speed and been delivering for you.” I then said; “I challenge you to find that person soon.”
I remember Mike smiling at me, giving me a nod of approval and saying he understood and that once he found that person and the time was right he would reach out to me.
Two weeks later I get a call from Mike. It went something like this. “You son of a bitch. I can’t get you challenging me out of your head. Let’s talk.”
I became a top producer at this company. After my first year I was the number one sales person at the Branch and was voted partner after my second year. Few people would have had the guts that Mike had. Everything on paper said no. But it’s not the paper that does the job. Thanks Mike, I owe you one.
Hire talent, smarts, passion, energy, and drive, the rest will take care of itself.