Lesson: Work hard and don’t give up.
Maher is impressive because of his list of high-powered clients: Blue Cross, Canon, the Department of Homeland Security, Hewlett-Packard, McDonald’s, IBM, Wells Fargo, Verizon, and more. Of course, you earn these clients with a lot of hard work.
Believe it or not, Maher was broke at age 37. He started selling greeting cards door-to-door and then created a business selling advertising products. He sold the company to new owners who would fail in running the business and pay him little in royalties. He got a break working at GTE as a salesman, and became the Fortune 500 company’s top salesman. Like many on this list, he’s now a motivational speaker and author who teaches other salespeople how to succeed.
John H. Patterson
Lesson: Make training a priority.
Founder and CEO of the National Cash Register Company, Patterson started his career in 1870 and is known as the “father of modern sales training.” He is considered one of the first entrepreneurs to organize and execute an official sales training program. This program included scripts, lessons on the sales cycle, and a four-stage process—initial approach, the proposition, the product demonstration, and the closing deal—to help salespeople succeed at certain milestones of the sales process.
Lesson: Document your best practices.
In Ogilvy’s portfolio you’ll see iconic campaigns for Hathaway, Dove, Schweppes, Shell, and Rolls Royce. However, he is a man from humble beginnings. He started his career selling stoves door-to-door, and he sold so many that the company asked him to write an instruction manual for other salesmen to use in the future. This manual eventually made its way to other companies and became an important part of sales training that is still used today. Fortune Magazine called it the “finest sales instruction manual ever written.” Ogilvy famously said, "In the modern world of business, it is useless to be a creative, original thinker unless you can also sell what you create.”
Mary Kay Ash
Lesson: Expand your network and incentivize sales.
Ash is the woman behind the Mary Kay Cosmetics Company. Her sales tactic was to persuade other women to throw parties and then sell to their friends; the idea is that people are more likely to buy from their friends. She paved the way for this type of sales strategy, now called multilevel marketing, and her business is now 50 years old. According to an Inc. Magazine article, she also pioneered the use of sales incentives, turning her company’s signature pink Cadillacs into a sign of women’s economic self-sufficiency.
Learn From the Greats
Your sales career will take hard work and perseverance for you to succeed. Fortunately, this career path is well tread, and you can learn from those who have come before you. With the lessons learned from the 12 capable salespeople in this article, you’ll be able to take your career to the next level and find even more success.
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