Sales Tips Learned From an Old-School Closer
He wore a lot of gold, drove a BMW, and always had people around him. In an African American inner-city community like ours, he was a standout. I was 19, right out of high school, and didn’t know what I was going to do with my life. I decided I’d walk up and introduce myself. His name was Tony. He told me that he and his father sold home improvement. That’s how I started canvassing.
Canvassing back then had different rules. If the job sold, you, the canvasser, got 10% off the top. The salesperson and the company split the profit on what remained. If nothing sold, you got nothing.
Because I was hungry, I wasn’t afraid. And because I wasn’t afraid, I did well. If I was having a lousy day, I’d tell myself that I only had to get one job. One job led to two. Then a few more. I was soon making a lot of money.
But I wanted to actually sell. That’s when I found a mentor in Tony’s father, Charles Jones.
I canvassed for C.J., as he was known, for about five years. At some point he began to take me with him into the house with him. Two things I remember: when he walked in, he had an instant connection to the people no matter what color they were. I thought: If you can connect, you can sell.
But I couldn’t figure out how to do it to save my life.
The other thing was that when he went to close, he placed the contract on the table. Instead of saying: You can sign right here, he said: Put your name right there, and pointed to the signature line. And they always did.
One day I went with him into a house carrying a window sample. He said: I’m going around the corner, you stay and close the deal. Go ahead and do your thing.
I tried and I blew it.
A few months later we were driving past that same house and he pointed to the windows. All of them were new, all of them replacement windows sold by a competitor. He said: “You call yourself a closer?”
I looked at those windows and I knew he would have closed that deal. So after that I stayed on him. I watched every move he made. I breathed when he breathed. I thought when he thought. And I learned. That was a foundation. Later, I learned a lot more from sales trainers and from self-help books. But to this day I never ask anybody to sign anything. I lay the contract down and say: Put your name right here.