Way back in 1988, geez, almost 30 years ago, I worked for a healthcare consulting company. That was my goal to become the wise consultant partner with a corner office. Healthcare organizations would call me for help because they thought I had all the answers to their problems. That was my vision. But a funny thing happened on the way to that goal. Three years prior, 1985, that consulting firm decided to dip their toe into the new world of “software” that ran on “personal computers”. They told me, the young kid on the low rung of the totem pole, to go figure out this PC software thing and come back with some ideas…expand our revenue stream. The result was that we became a distributor for a small software start up that sold nurse scheduling software to hospitals. The application could create a four-week schedule for a nursing unit in about 20 seconds. By hand, it took about a week!
They bought me a 30-pound Compaq “luggable” portable computer and I started demonstrating this software to our customers. It sold for an amazing, shocking amount of $25,000. That does not sound like much but in the early PC days most software was around $99 or $199. I got pretty good at the demo, learned DOS, flew all over the USA doing “demo’s” and writing contracts and selling and installing this system.
One day in 1988 a box came to the office for me. I opened it and inside found the original Motorola “Gordon Gekko Brick” cellular telephone (watch the original Wall Street movie to get the Gordon Gekko reference….”greed is good”!). It was the first cellular telephone I had ever seen or touched. It weighed several pounds. Had green text. Huge big black antennae sticking out the top. At least $1 per minute of talk time! The phone was sent to me by the company that built the software I had been selling for the last three years. I was a bit puzzled, so I called their CEO and asked why he sent me the phone. He chuckled, as if I should know the answer, and he said, “Everyone who sells a million dollars of software gets a phone!”
Very few people had cellular phones then. It was a definite badge of success and glamour…holding a several pound beige brick next to your ear with the black antennae sticking up above your head! Goofy looking, but still cool!
Wow, a million dollars at $25k a pop. I had no clue I had sold that much. But here is the funny thing….my goal of being the sage senior partner in the corner office was the wrong target. For the first time I realized I was not a consultant, I was a software salesman. A salesman! It took me three years and $1 million in sales to realize this (yes, I can be a bit slow sometimes). It wasn’t long before I left the consulting firm, went to work for the software company and spent the next 25 years selling and managing the sale of software to healthcare providers.
That’s my story of how I got into sales. I can thank the early developers of the PC and that Compaq luggable. I can thank the company that built some very cool software (that ran on a 10 mb hard drive computer!) Serendipitous perhaps? However it happened, I rode the ever-increasing power of computing to a great sales leadership career and made a great living.
As I write this blog, and tell you my story, I am not re-telling you the story, I am re-living my story. In my head I am standing on a curb at an airport calling the hotel and asking them to send the shuttle bus for me (no Uber or Lyft!). I can see myself there, feel the wind in my face, and the chatter of everyone around me. That is the power of a story. It puts you right in the middle of the action. And that is why we need to tell more business and sales stories in our sales presentations. When we use stories to help us sell, the customer puts themselves into the stories. They can see and feel how you can help them solve their business problems. They begin to believe you know them better than your competition. They believe you are easier to use. It creates a quicker path to them deciding you are the better choice over your competition.
That is my mission now, to help sales teams, or anyone delivering presentations, to build better, more powerful presentations that move people to see that you are the best fit for them. Plato once said, “People who tell stories rule the world”. I want to help you rule your world!
Give me a call or email….tell me your story….I can help you take that skill to help you sell more. Let’s start a conversation!