The Story of TESC
When he wasn’t designing the best cars available at the time, Sakitchi Toyota also famously
the “5 Why” technique. The idea is that you keep asking “Why” to each of your motivations, until
reach the deep, foundational truths about why you’re doing what you’re doing.
I’ve done some crazy things in my life – I’ve demanded to go away to boarding school, I’ve quit jobs without a next job to go to, I’ve travelled the world alone for almost two years, I’ve studied 1,000 hours for financials exams while not in finance and I’ve chosen to sell on commission door-to-door for two university summers, so a lot of exploring of “Whys” is needed!
Here, I’ll explore the ‘Why’ behind this project, which has been a two-year project interviewing more than 100 business leaders to write a comprehensive guide to building a sales career for aspiring salespeople – and revealed a lot about myself along the way.
Personal Backstory and Deeper Why
One of the “Whys” behind writing a book on sales is that I’ve always loved being in sales. I
very first “no” – and as a salesperson, you have to be weird and celebrate the “no”s - I was
raffle tickets in my Dad’s office, where he was the boss, and the tickets are cheap, so you
couldn’t say no to eight-year old me. But one woman did! She said no twice, as she hadn’t won
before! I was shocked at first. But then I realised I didn’t really mind – I was still winning
schools competition for raffle ticket sales, and she had her own reasons. That was the first time I had a true ‘buying atmosphere’ – where I truly didn’t care whether someone bought, only that I pitched to enough people to ensure success – which is the mark of a great product salesperson.
My “why” behind why I went into sales was that I was good at it, that I took “no” well, and I could persevere. The “why” behind that is that my parents had raised me to set goals and be determined – my Dad always used to say “No matter what, do what you say you’re going to do, and do it well.” The “why” behind that…is likely for a different discourse, and might require a psychologist to be present.
That I wanted to go into sales was solidified while at University, when I started pedicabbing –
that’s right, cycle taxi-ing with up to three people sitting in your caboose. Make no mistake, pedicabbing is a
job! You have to approach people, convince them to get in, and haggle over the price – “a pound
pound,” we used to secretly say about our overweight customers. I made four times as much money
pedicabbing as I ever had in bar, restaurant and manual labour jobs to that point. I was hooked.
I then went and sold educational books door-to-door, on pure commission, in the US, during my University summers - which was deeply formative. I remember sitting on the pavement, crying, salty tears running into my mouth, when I realised I wouldn’t hit my goals for that day, week, or month. “No matter what, do what you’re say you’re going to do, and do it well” – I got up, and I persevered, for six months in total.
I then went to work for three different corporate giants – Procter & Gamble, Debtwire and Gartner – with vastly different experiences in each. One key learning I had was: the more sales-driven, and more complex and Business-to-business an organisation is, the more salespeople are trusted, rewarded and valued. This was a lesson I wanted to share with the world, and a lesson I leveraged in starting my own B2B business (with 3 amazing partners) in June 2019.
Writing the book-process
When I sat down to put my learnings into the book, in early 2019, I was ready. I outlined the
put pen to paper, and it was a masterpiece! But it was only 10,000 words – not enough for a
dissertation, let alone full book! So I started interviewing people I had worked with – just a
first, but then they referred me to others, and much like most projects where a salesperson is
a project manager, it’s spiralled wildly out of control.
And now we have edited, curated and released over 85 interviews in 2020, with a book which condenses and curates their wisdom into 100 key lessons coming in January 2021, on these very web pages.
Conclusions and Learning
As I continued this project, the “why” I should have done it became abundantly apparent. I
learned a lot
about the different routes you take in a sales career, about the way top salespeople and CEO
business, and expanded my own network greatly.
So that is why I should have wrote the book, but why did I actually? It goes back to finished what you start, being dedicated, and, “Doing what you say you were going to do, and doing it well.”
You can find the results of my project here , and I hope the wisdom of our many distinguished interviewees – and the curation of their wisdom in the book itself – helps with your own aspiring and improving sales career.