A Mentor Shows Me The Value of My Genie.
Will My Wishes Come True?
This is not a White Paper! White Papers pretend to be unbiased.
by Ted Steinberg, Co-Founder.
[If you never read another article on selling, by me or anyone, read this like it’s the crucible that keeps you loving the work you do, loving the business of selling. I’ve waited 60 years to write this story. I hope you like it as much as I did in writing it.]
Previously on Jimmy Stewart’s Rabbit
- In 1957, I'm 23 and dreaming of Genies. I am looking for a Genie who will be my best friend and grant me three wishes.
- I use Harvey as my model of an imaginary best friend and confidant who will become real. Harvey is Jimmy Stewart’s, 6’ 8′′ White Rabbit, Harvey is Jimmy’s best friend. They trust each other implicitly. Harvey wins the Oscar for Jimmy in 1950. What’s good enough for Jimmy is good enough for me.
- My Genie grants me my wishes: 1) I can sell anyone I want, 2) anything I want, 3) any way I want.
- My Genie has three provisos: 1) it must be good for the customer, 2) the Genie is never the star, 3) I am never the star. (The customer is always the star. It’s not about the Genie; it’s not about me.)
- In mid-1958, other than for daydreams, other than a way to keep from being bored as I drove from town to town selling Thermo-Jac sportswear to retailers, my sessions with the Genie were never intended for being useful.
- A few months later, trying to analyze my situation, working hard, but hardly productive, I decided to sort my accounts from most sales to least sales without realizing I was playing the the well known game of Prospect Solitaire, a process used by salespeople, hoping to pick the lucky card (lead) and make a sale. Many of my bottom accounts should have been top accounts. Many of my top accounts were really small retailers who outperformed their size. For some reason, they loved Thermo-Jac and me. Hmm?
- My income in 1958 was $6,500 per year, $55,000 in today's dollars. It increased 6 fold in 1959 because I invited Tom Bradley to spend a day with me in my territory. Tom sold Thermo-Jac, too; his income was $95,000 per year, $800,000 in today's dollars. What was he doing right that I wasn’t doing? What was I doing wrong that he wasn’t doing?
What Happens in Jimmy Stewart’s Rabbit, Part 3: (It's now 1959)
Tom Bradley visits me in Milwaukee the last week in January, 1959. He asked me to set up three appointments with existing accounts for the day after he arrives.
The Strangest Secret:
- As soon as we check into the hotel, he asks me to listen to “The Strangest Secret,” a recording he brought, by Earl Nightingale. He will join me later after I listened
- The secret? What is it? “We become what we think about.” The LP sold over 1.000,000 copies, but when I listened to it, I did so because Tom insisted, not because I wanted to. In fact I resisted it almost entirely. It was just too professional, so I thought. Too slick, it put me off.
- Even though I listened to Nightingale speak of Napoleon Hill’s “Think and Grow Rich” and of Socrates saying, “we become what we think about all day long,” it never dawned on me that my all day long thoughts about my Genie had anything in common with Nightingale, Napoleon Hill or Socrates.
Bradley Quizzes Me:
- Did I listen to the record? I did!
- How did I like it? Ho hum!
- What do I think about all day long? I told him: 1) Porsches, 2) Beautiful Models = I worked with magazine models everyday and I thought about them, and then some, if you get the picture.
- Hunting & Fishing, Skiing, and Jazz. (I wasn’t going to tell Tom about the Genie; he’d call the boss, and either I’d be fired or put in the home for the bewildered.)
Bradley Sets Me Up For His Axioms. (My term for what he told me.)
Bradley didn’t attack my lack of interest in The Strangest Secret. Until he was 45, 7 years before, working for Brown Show Manufacturing, he sold like everyone else, doing OK, not great, just OK.
He decided to rethink everything about selling. Perhaps, he was trapped in the role of being a peddler, and
wanted to jump a few hurdles and find a better way to sell. Tom told me his father died at the time, and he felt like he failed to measure up. This motivated him to search for a better way to think about the whole process as a subject which could be mastered.
(Shown In the order of how he described what he learned and why his income was 15 times greater than mine. The numbered comments are his statements. The parenthesis are my augmentations.
- Buyers do not like to make decisions.(Business buyers are risk adverse. Their jobs are stressful. If they say yes to the wrong deal or buy the wrong products, they could jeopardize themselves and others.
- There is only one important decision to be made? Does the customer want to do business with you? (All detail type decisions are unimportant and these very details are why buyers have anxiety about the work the do, what they buy, and who they buy from.)
- The second decision to be made is made by the seller. Will the customer do business the way you want them to? (If not, do not go forward, do not sell them!)
- Will the customer put you in charge = let you decide write the order and decide on what else they need from you and your company = in order for the relationship to work? (This is the key, because if 1, 2, and 3, above, are true, then when they hand you the combination to their safe, or the keys to their kingdom, it’s because they sold themselves on what you are offering, how you are offering, and who you and your company are.)
- You can find all of this out in the front of the sale (the pre-sell), instead of waiting for the close. (Traditional selling consists of three steps: 1) the pre-sell, 2) the presentation, and 3) the close.)
- You can shortcut the sale by not demonstrating the product line in any detail, if at all. (Bradley could make the sale in 15 minutes to 30 minutes, instead of the 2 – 2.5 hours I needed. His average opening order for each of 4 new lines a year was 10 times greater than what I was experiencing. He rarely showed the buyers the items, other than upcoming advertisements for fashion magazines. He concentrated on getting the account to understand their advantages for letting him be fully responsible for the retailer’s success. His methods provided the retailer with more income and less aggravation. He managed the relationship and his accounts loved it, because they were very successful.)
Bradley Raises The Stakes:
- Since he knew my father’s store in Sioux Falls was a big account for Thermo-Jac, even years before I joined the company, he asks me to write up a balanced opening order covering whatever items, colors, and sizes a store needed for a big enough presence and to be covered for upcoming fashion magazine advertisements, (I wrote an order for $10,000 at retail, $5,500 at cost. This was 10 times larger than my average opening order.)
- He told me to cut it in half to $2,750 at cost. He told me I would be able to write up the same order for the three accounts we expected to see the following day. (Although, I thought he could never pull this off, I did the math and I could see $220 via 8% commission per account or $660 for all three, and that was more than I made in a month. On the one hand, I wanted him to fail, so the company would see I was not the problem. My story = I just had some stubborn accounts and our products didn’t turn them on. However, commission is commission and making a month’s income in one day was nothing to hide from my Genie.
- He plans to teach me a lesson about style and substance. He only brought one suit, a tan corduroy cowboy suit he wore on his flight from his home in Dallas. His tie was one of those, “I’m from Texas” models, a silver bull’s head with a big turquoise stone which would be glaring at my upper class department store buyers from Marshall Fields, Gimbels, and Schusters, Bradley is originally from Arkansas, when he decides to act like Daniel Boone, he doesn’t need a coach. (Milwaukee’s finest, say howdy to Hopalong Bradley.) I’m wearing my three piece Brooks Brothers gray flannel suit, with my herringbone Chesterfield overcoat with the black velvet collar. I am sporting a fedora. My black capped oxfords are good enough for Wall Street. Pretending to be British, I’m driving a Maroon MG Magnette with Tan Hides and a walnut facia (dashboard), it looks like a Bentley. Bradley refuses to be seen in such an odd looking Foreign Car. He has Hertz deliver an Olds 98; they were out of white Cadillacs, his preferred ride. He buys a new one each year, gives the old one to his wife.
- After putting up with my concerns over his appearance, Tom asks if I ever think about what it takes to be successful instead being caught up with the trappings of success. Time for me to rebound, so tell him about the Genie, thinking he’ll roll his eyes in disgust. I was on the defensive; if he thought I was a fool, I was going to open my mouth and erase all doubts, proving the validity of a Mark Twain quote.
- Bradley listened to the three wishes my Genie granted me, and said: “that’s not as ridiculous as it appears. You’ve come up with a self-starting brainstorming technique. If you re-listen to the Nightingale record, you will notice you created, by accident or on purpose, an all day thinking system. It’s better than what I went through while looking for a way to control the sale. Your system gives you permission to be in charge as long as the Genie’s three provisos are honored. Nice touch! Let’s put it to work tomorrow when we sell your accounts the way you really want to.
The Next Day, The Day I Flipped, Was The Day My Customers Flipped:
Jimmy Stewart’s Rabbit – Part 4 talks about what happened that day, and how we sold those three former accounts plus two new ones. The buyers now treated me like I was bringing them gifts instead of the typical salesman talk they expected.
Several decades later, I realized I was bringing them gifts in the form of R&R (my name for it) = Revenue & Recognition, More Revenue from new found customers I invited to their stores. More Recognition from events I put on with them
When your customer is eating from your hand, see “My First Customer Was a Squirrel,” it’s a happy day. When your customer is happy to hear from you, it’s another happy day! I was earning a great deal of money for a young man and I was having fun. I wasn’t working, I was playing.
Mark Twain said, “if I had known it was going to be work, I shouldn’t have done it!”