Pull up a cuppa coffee and let me tell you a story about taking chances in life. You might think this all about career changes but it’s bigger than that.
It’s a tale of change, confidence, belief, and taking chances.
Years ago, I knew I needed to get away from my Big Pharma job. I was dying a slow death.
I was looking through our local paper and responded to a tech support job at a company I had never heard of.
That company had a weird name. It looked like a misspelling. But I’m sharp, so I “corrected” it in my cover letter!
My first impression to them was I couldn’t even spell their name right. Somehow, I managed to get an interview.
Turns out my future boss and I went to the same college.
My first lesson in the power of connections.
During the interview he tells me, “I think you could do this support job well, but I need you in sales”.
I took the plunge. I also took a 40% pay cut to get out of Big Pharma. My wife and kids were looking at me to keep it all rolling.
My motivation to succeed in sales was high.
An uncapped commission plan was the carrot. The base pay was abysmal. After three successful years, I had an opportunity within the industry to change companies and double my pay.
My original boss had become my mentor.
He encouraged me to take the job. It was a good company, not a direct competitor per se, but a great opportunity.
He would tell me:
“There’s no harm in having a conversation.”
I owe him a lot. He gave me my foot into an industry I had very little business getting into.
He saw in me what I didn’t see.
Everyone told me “don’t be that guy that job hops”. This was in the 90’s. I knew that there was little loyalty any more from employer or employee.
So, every 2-3 years:
- I changed companies.
- I stayed in the same overall industry.
- Always a Better Company.
- Always Better Products.
- Always Better Reputation.
I never stopped selling myself.
9/11/01 had me watching NYC burn on TV. I was too old to enlist.
But I managed to find a company that I could take my skill set to, one that worked within this new Homeland Security world I wanted to be a part of.
It was a very small company but they had lightning in a bottle. Sales guys were topping $500K easily.
So all those job hops, all that experience gained with various technologies, finally paid off.
All those technologies were interrelated so I had cross-trained myself across the entire industry. When this new niche opened up, I leveraged my way in.
I’ve never looked back.
The products I sell are the best in class. My customers are great people to work with.
At this point, I’m not just the sales guy. I’m the trusted advisor, the consultant who fights for them.
These guys are my friends.
All this came to be from taking chances along the way. I never wavered on my belief in self.
I began thinking of myself as
The Free Agent.
If you’ve never heard that term, in professional sports, after a player runs thru his initial contract, he now becomes a hired gun to whatever team is willing to pay his asking price. If he convinces the other owners that he’s a game changer, he can have his pick of where he wants to play.
“If you don’t hire me, your competition will.”
I would literally say that in each interview. I was very confident, somewhat cocky looking back at it. But in the end, I projected extreme success.
I credit an epiphany I had about sales early in my career.
I learned to be great by following Three Simple Rules of Success. I would always point these out in my interviews. They always resonate with the interview audience.
You can read them here:
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