Winning Doesn’t Make You Right

Back to 1995, and I’m selling business telephone systems.

[Spoiler alert – it didn’t last long.]

Our sales trainer was a larger-than-life North Londoner. The sort of guy for whom selling was a competition, with winners and losers. “And I hate losers.”

The first part of the sales process was getting past whoever answered the phone, and through to the right person. One of the key techniques was to be confident – to sound like you were a friend of the decision maker. “Hi, can I speak to Rick.” “Can I ask what the call is about?” “It’s a personal call.” I was surprised at how often it worked.

But sometimes it didn’t. If they came back with more questions, we were taught to get insistent. “Just put me through will you, I’m in a hurry.”

One particular call still haunts me. After several minutes back and forth, I became so aggressive that I ended up making the woman cry. I had ‘won’. My trainer was ecstatic.

[Incidentally – when I was finally put through to the boss, I got the dressing down I deserved].

Lessons learned?

Firstly, ‘winning’ doesn’t make you right.

And secondly, understand your values. What you do should never compromise who you are.

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