The Leader That Taught Me How to Sell

It’s guest post Monday. Mike Holmes is the founder of Tithehacker. The purpose of the site is to stir up a revolution of radical giving. Stop by the site a get a copy of his free resource “The Revolutionary Art of Hacking the Tithe

I’ve been in sales for a decent amount of time. I won awards, hit quota, felt the thrill of the new sales, and the gut-wrench of the lost one. I’ve heard more than my share of “no’s” “not interested” “let me think about” it “I gotta talk to my cat, get the opinion of my fish, and run it by my dog before I commit.” But this time at Xerox…I was drowning.

I’d make the appointments, see the people, bring my manager, and somehow or another lose the business…and get blamed for it. I was not doing well at all and my previous manager let me know all the time.

Then one day out of the clear blue my previous manager resigned. He found a better job elsewhere and I was suddenly put in the camp of the manager who won every sales award in the company. “Probably be no different,” I thought. “I still suck!” Boy was I wrong!

This time was different. This time thing started turning my way. For instance, the very next call we went on I saw an immediate difference. My manager gave a presentation that almost made me want to buy the machine. Then the prospect said the usual: “Let me think about it.” Then the conversation went like this:

Manager: “Think about it? Sure…sure…that sounds good. When can we follow up with you?”

Prospect: “I think Tuesday would be a good time.”

Manager:: “Ok. That sounds good. (looking at watch) How’s 1 o’clock?

Prospect: “Sure. I think we should make a decision by then.”

Manager: “Ok. That sounds great. Listen…I have another idea…”

Next thing I knew we walked out with signed paperwork and two new customers!

Only Giant Killers Can Produce Giant Killers

I was floored. I couldn’t believe it. If it was the last manager, we would’ve gotten up, thanked them for their time, and next week I’d be looking at my phone at 12:59pm on Tuesday getting ready to call. My script: “So what did you think about what we said??” But in one fell swoop he cut through the objection, gained trust, and won over two new customers. It was unbelievable. My career slowly but surely took off after that point.

It’s been proven over and over again: “EVERYTHING rises and falls on leadership.” Whether it be a sales team, a church, a business, or a family–its leadership that makes the defining difference. For instance, when I worked at Enterprise Rent-A-Car there was a guy who we’ll call “John.” John was by far the worst employee in our region. Other managers had given up on him, he hadn’t won a single award, would get into arguments with customers, and was deemed a lost cause. That’s until he came under a leader who we’ll call Dwayne.

Dwayne heard the stories, knew his background, and etc. After a few weeks of working with John and working to earn John’s respect and trust, Dwayne took John aside looked him square in the eyes and said: “I know what they said and I know your past…but listen to me carefully…this will be the last month you will be a bottom producer.”

John went on to become #1 in the region.

Leaders bring the best out

True leadership works to bring the best out of people. That’s why you’re there Mr. Leader. That’s why God called you Ms. Influence. He never gave you your gifts, strengths, talents, and resources for you; He gave it for those around you. In fact, the greatest Leader modeled this in everything He did:

“Christ’s love makes the church whole. His words evoke her beauty. Everything He does and says is designed to bring the best out of her, dressing her in dazzling white silk, radiant with holiness.” (Ephesians 5:26-27 MSG)

Question: In what ways can you apply these principles and thoughts into your leadership?


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29 thoughts on “The Leader That Taught Me How to Sell

  1. This is so true Michael, true Leadership is someone that can bring out the best in each person. It’s the Leader that is on a different level with each person and needs to know and understand how that person works and put them in the best position to succeed. Most people write others off as not being able to do it. A Leader wants to find out how can I make it work. Great post!

    • Lincoln Parks,

      The key like you mentioned is knowing where each person is at on your team then working with them where they are at to move forward. No one person is a like, some people need more training while others need a swift kick in the rear to motivate them. Knowing each person is key. Thank you for the valuable insights.

  2. Awesome story about John. It seems to mirror Zig Ziglar’s story.

    I look at John and Zig’s stories and realize that even if I am at the bottom, it is possible to work my way up. Just keep plugging away and doing what works.

    • Thanks Joe!

      I wouldn’t have believed the “John” story if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes. John just fed off the belief that Dwayne had in him and went to work. Don’t get me wrong it took time…but it happened. Anything can happen when we put in the time and effort.

    • Joe,

      I like the saying, “I’m either up or getting up.” Even if we are at the bottom their is potential to move forward it just takes effort and hard work. Thank you for sharing.

    • Leaders…or better yet…true leaders have so much power. It boggles my mind to think about it sometimes. When I read that quote from John Maxwell: “everything rises and falls on leadership” I was floored. I’ve thought about it so much over the years, I’ve internalized it, tried to disprove it, and just found it to be so true. That’s why the greatest work I will ever do….is the work on myself.

    • It’s a great and true quote. I could not agree more with what Mike said in his reply. Leadership and power go together but not everyone handles power effectively. Some people use their power to harm while others use it to influence.

      Thank you for reading and sharing.

  3. Leaders have so much responsibility and power to influence people. It’s great to know there are those working towards being better leaders by working to bring the best out of people instead of just seeking praise.

    • TC Avey,

      I believe the best leaders have the ability to bring out the best in others. So people who are looking from the outside see a team of people who are their best and not just one person or leader. Thank you for adding to the conversation.

  4. First of all Dan, I want to thank you for giving me the opportunity to post on your blog. You have a great community over here and I’m glad to be able to serve it. Second, I’m humbled by all these insightful comments…I cant wait to dig in and reply to each one

    • Mike,

      Your welcome. I know it takes time and energy to write a guest post so I want to thank you for writing it and allowing me to share it with others. It’s full of great content and skillfully written. Your welcome to guest post here anytime you want.

  5. While reading this, I felt like I was reading an interesting novel! Beautiful post, Michael.

    The story you shared is real good and inspiring. Yes, everything revolves around leadership and the leader. As leaders, that’s a great responsibility God has placed on our shoulders.

    By the way, if you can share, what was the “another idea” that your manager told the prospective client that made him give in? Like to know the principle that worked there!

    Dan, you surely have a bunch of great guest bloggers!

    • A novel eh? Might be something I should look into lol!

      The other idea? It was simple…try the machine for a week demonstration. The customer was concerned about getting a lemon. They said that without saying it. My manager was listening intently to what my customer was saying…and decoding the things that weren’t being said. What it boiled down to was this: the customer had a legitimate objection, it was unspoken, my manager asked a lot of questions, zeroed in on the problem, and offered an appropriate answer.

        • Joe,

          I agree, being able to sell can help you or a leader no matter what industry they are in. A leader needs to be able to sell their ideas, vision, goals, and self to others. It’s a skill everyone would benefit from growing in.

      • Mike,

        It shows the importance of listening to whats being said and whats not being said. A leader some times can struggle with doing this but it’s so essential.

  6. It’s clear we have to lead by example and be the kind of leaders that motivate, not give up. I found this to be true in jobs I’ve been at, you work at the level of the leadership, if they really don’t care, it rubs off. Great post Michael!

  7. Awesome post! I love the part about the leader not accepting the “bottom producer.” So often new leaders get filled with people’s views about teammembers and never go on to truly lead but reinforce. And look what happens when you take a different course.