The Sales Success Stories Book project is coming along nicely. So far we’ve collected over 40 stories with more to come as we prepare to publish in October.
More details about the project and the opportunity to pre-purchase are available here: top1sales.wpengine.com/book. Those who contribute $50 or more to the Indigogo campaign before 7/20 will receive access to a Google Doc will all of the raw stories, so you won’t have to wait until October to get your hands on this incredible sales content.
In between the regular interview episodes until the book is published in October you’ll find a sample story like this one. You can either listen to the episode and hear Dayna read her story, or read the full text below.
Here’s one of the three stories that Dayna has submitted for the book. Enjoy!
Being Comfortable with the Uncomfortable
Every Thursday morning, with a cup of coffee in hand and a determined heart, I would sit in my office and scan the job ads in the newspaper. Yes, the NEWSPAPER! Remember those things, and those of you that don’t, it is printed black and white wonderful piece of information that is printed daily! I had just left a career as high school English teacher that I really loved. I was working as a trainer for a finance company and I was unhappy. I saw the ad for a Publisher’s Representative for John Wiley & Sons Publisher that stated: Helping Teachers Teach and Students Learn. I fell in love. That was 17 years ago, and while my title has changed to Account Manager, I still have the same job and sell many of the same product lines and titles today. And while much is the same in the crazy world of publishing, much has changed. It is more bizarre, absurd, fun and challenging more than ever before! My greatest lesson is being comfortable with the uncomfortable! The lessons have been great and very tough. The uncomfortable lesson was a tough and sometimes very uncomfortable one to truly learn…many times, the hard way!
I have always been the kind of pick yourself up after falling many times type of person. As a kid, I worked so hard for all my grades, and while public speaking comes naturally now, I had a horrible stutter and was bad at math—really bad. Always. In fact, I relished in the joy of the pain because I assumed pain was a part of the learning process of everything and even developed it as craft. Like John Mellencamp (fill in middle name “Cougar” for those of you that grew up in the 80’s) sings in his song Hurts So Good: Hurt so good; sometimes love don’t feel like it should. You make it hurt so good. I played that song in my head a lot! In fact, I naturally assume failure was simply a part of the process. I have always been a hard worker, and did more than what was asked and with a big smile on my face and usually with a lovely sarcastic joke for the ready.
But, nothing prepared me for this job. Nothing. I had years of retail experience where I managed people, was cursed at, worked late painting a stock room for a visit from District managers just for them to pass thru the back-stock room for literally 3 minutes or less. Retail is a wonderful preparation for a high-level sales job of any nature. I suggest to anyone and everyone to walk in the shoes of service staff and those in retail. While retail therapy is a real, I assure it is ONLY for the customer. I cherish my lessons learned with customer satisfaction and lesson of failure and absurdity.
I spent my first two years at Wiley literally holding my breath, feeling stressed out, confused, dazed, confused, frustrated, tired and many times, hopeless and fearful they would fire me. Why? It was fast pace, hard to even find and know your customers quickly, and the training program was literally baptism by fire. Academic publishing is a very confusing business and not the typical B2B sales role. So, the question is what kept me going besides my first year not making my numbers, and barely raising out of the ashes for the second year. I felt lackluster and full of despair. Where do I go wrong? I was a teacher, a successful salesperson in the retail space and was a trainer—I felt like this was my place to be! Why couldn’t make this work? What was I doing wrong? I now knew the answer…
I did not ask for enough help! I look back and now know that I did not seek help faster, but remember, I thought that consistent failing was just a part of the process, but now I was asked to meet a sales quota and it mattered—there was more pressure and more demands from managers and my customers, and most of all, I had something to prove to myself that I could do this job! My boss, at the time, did not want to really hire me and it was his boss, that did. He wanted to hire the woman who was a member of Mensa; really?? I could barely pass Geometry in high school. He said I was hungry and I was—but why couldn’t I act as if I was hungry? I did give myself time. I did not ask enough questions and bottom line, I was not enough—yes BOLD!
Boldness was the answer! How did I recognize it? One of my customers said to me: “This is a very hard job and I can see you will be good at it. Be patient and start being OK with the pace and that this job will always be uncomfortable.” Wow! That statement changed my entire attitude towards my job and how I perceived success and failure. I began to find mentors, to seek help and I gladly sought help from the right people and to this day, many of those mentors are in my life today. I am so grateful to those people that took the time to help and many of them were women, and I know understand why I have a sign in my office that says: Chicks Kick Ass. Boy, do they! Don’t get me wrong, many men at Wiley pulled me towards my success, but it was the women who climbed their way up and sought answers like me that had the greatest impact on my vision of what failure means and how to be bold and own my success. Once I owned the success I could cultivate it, and keep it going! I now understand that consistent achievement is hard and so worth the very uncomfortable climb.
Today, I still own one of the largest and most successful territories in the US at Wiley for their Higher Education group, and have grown my digital market share each year in an environment that is full of turmoil and constant change. I have been actively engaged with training and mentoring new account managers for many years and most of all, I am blessed to work for a company that listens and listens to individual successful performers like me. I greatly understand the importance of being comfortable with the uncomfortable because that will never change! In fact, I am very comfortable with that fact!
- Understand your comfort and pain levels and what they mean to you
- Seek help; seek a mentor and or a coach—it can save time and money
- Be bold in your questioning, in your pursuit of working hard for your customers
- Take the time to help others by training and mentoring; give your time and you will get far more back in return
- Think about the company you work for—do they give you a purpose for your purpose?
Want more? Dayna was the star of Episode 37: Dayna Leaman, Senior Account Manager at Wiley – Building a Sales Career Combining Passion and Talent