What comes to mind when a sales person approaches you and tries to convince you to buy things? While you find them ‘annoying’ at times, we ought to give them credits for their persistence in sealing the deal.
Through Success Resources, Leaderonomics got some insights from Tom Hopkins, the builder of sales champions who carries the standard as a master sales trainer. He is internationally recognised as the world’s leading authority on selling techniques and salesmanship.
Here are some of his responses to our questions.
1. Who is your role model, and how has this person impacted you?
I have learnt a great deal from two people in particular. The first is the great motivational speaker, Zig Ziglar. His positive motivational messages inspired me just as they inspired many around the world. His style of delivery for his messages and the way he commanded the stage were incredible.
The second is Joel O’Steen, an American televangelist and pastor. O’Steen impacts my whole life because he’s fundamentally sound as a teacher. The principles he teaches are based in truth and will enable me to live a longer and happier life.
2. What was your greatest lesson in life, and how has that helped you as a person and a leader?
After 40 years in business, there have been many big lessons learnt. Overall, I would have to say that I learnt to be extremely careful to whom I delegate authority in my business dealings. When you’re excited about business opportunities, it’s easy to trust that things will work out as planned. The important lesson is to watch over them carefully, even when someone else is tasked with handling the details.
3. What drives you in life?
Even though I could have retired young, I am challenged and motivated to continue because of the opportunity I have in helping others to have great sales careers. There is tremendous satisfaction in helping others fulfil their dreams through the art of selling.
When sales people become sales professionals I believe the world will be better served. It’s long been my goal to improve the world’s image of the profession of selling. It’s an honourable profession when it serves the needs of others.
4. Failure is spoken in a positive light these days. However, it is not easy when we experience it ourselves. How can we remain optimistic, regardless of how difficult it gets?
In my seminars, I teach students to do what I call a dead sale autopsy when a sale is not made. By that, I mean to take a break and analyse what had happened. Then, think about things that could have been done differently to create a different outcome. That’s where the learning experience comes.
I teach them to start by saying to themselves, “What did I do right?” in order to set the stage for this autopsy. They begin the process in a positive light: “I arrived to the meeting on time”, “I was dressed appropriately”, “I rehearsed my presentation well.”
Even though a sale wasn’t made or a business decision turned out poorly, there was something positive about the event. Find that as your starting point. Handling the rest of the situation will be easier.
Also, please understand that you have never failed until you quit. When you keep trying instead of giving up, you’re still positioning yourself for a win.
5. If you could turn back the clock, how would you do things differently, and why?
There are numerous business and personal decisions that I would make differently. I think we all feel that way. It’s called 20/20 hindsight. However, rather than dwelling on the past, I think it’s more important to consider past events as learning experiences. Then, when planning the future, we use those lessons to make better decisions.
More specifically, my staff and I agree that since people in the sales profession tend to change jobs over their working lives, we would have placed a more effective plan for keeping in touch with those people during times of transition. It keeps them as clients longer.
6. Your advice for people who want to emulate your success.
If you want to emulate my success, live by the best advice I was ever given. Early in my career, I heard a speaker said, “Find out who the wealthiest person is in your community and invite that person for lunch. Then, listen.”
I did that and was quite surprised when the man agreed to meet with me for lunch. I was extremely nervous. I asked him what his secret to success was. He smiled and said, “I’ll tell you, but before I do, know that if you take my advice, there will be days you’ll regret making the commitment to do so.”
I was so young and naïve that I didn’t even have a piece of paper to write on. I pulled out my pen and wrote his advice on a paper napkin. His words were as follows: “Every day, live by these words: I must do the most productive thing possible at every given moment.”
I did. And I’ll tell you some days it was quite challenging. However, I soon realised that it wasn’t just about work. Yes, I needed to do the most productive things at work. It was also important to do the most productive things with my loved ones. Those words helped me to become more effective and to have greater balance in my life.
7. What sort of legacy do you want to leave behind, and why?
I hope to leave as my legacy education that enhances the world’s view of the profession of selling. I want people to understand that selling requires integrity and ethics above all else.
When you choose selling as a career, you are choosing to become a humble servant of others. When selling is done well, everyone enjoys the benefits: clients, companies, sales professionals and their loved ones.
I’ve had sales professionals tell me that after they’ve implemented my training, they’ve changed their future and the future of their children and grandchildren because of what they’ve earned by serving with humility and integrity. I want that to go on forever.
Watch our video interview with Hopkins on The Leaderonomics Show: