So I ventured into the world of sales. I began selling registered educational savings plans (RESPs), guided by the original salesman, my dad. He took me out on sales calls and I watched him work his magic. It seemed to be so easy. In fact, I asked him if what we were selling was legal. Why wouldn't somebody want to put away money for their children's education in a fund? It seemed like a no-brainer to me. It wasn't. My dad just made it look easy because he had the magic formula.
Now, if you know my dad Willard, he is not a slick guy who wears expensive suits and gold rings, but he is the guy everybody likes. Willard is good at people. He likes people, and people like him because he gets people. His sales career, which spanned life insurance, investments,office equipment and real estate was built on the following principles which he learned across the kitchen table and not in university:
- Care about what your clients care about.
- Have a plan.
- Work the plan.
- Communicate the plan.
Willard used to say, "you can say whatever you want as long as you smile." When I began selling scholarships I smiled a lot, because it was painful. I got used to the sound of "no thanks, click."
Then one of Willard's lessons came home to me: "you have to figure out what problem they are trying to solve, and then you can help them solve it."
When I put myself in their shoes and cared about what they cared about the light went on. My clients' wanted to be able to put money aside for their children. They wanted their children to have a choice in life, and not be limited by lack of money. They wanted their children to have a better life than they had.
My job was to help them develop and implement a savings plan for their children, which I did for 8 years until I made a career decision to implement my own plan to earn a university degree.
With degrees in hand,I became a journalist, business writer and strategic planner, but the principles that I learned in the "Willard Larson School of Sales and Business" continue to be relevant.
I never stop marketing myself or my skills. I care about what my clients care about, and I help them to plan their way ahead. And I never stop smiling.