My first couple of months in HVAC/R sales was terrible. I knew it. So when the boss asked me to breakfast, I thought it was to fire me.
The “boss” was Mike Bellissimo. A hard-nosed Vietnam Veteran from Baltimore. He was an excellent technical trainer; and he treated his service men like his kids.
In 1988, Mike founded Service 1st. The company focused on commercial services and repairs. The office was located in West Monroe, LA. (Yes – the Duck Dynasty West Monroe. Our shop was 2 streets south of the Duck Commander building.) He hired me into the position of Sales Analyst.
My official first duty was to take the company from $55 an hour to $75 and hour. I had to do this through new customers exclusively.
Initially, I was very excited about the opportunity.
But after 6 weeks of no sales, my excitement faded. I began to have doubts about myself. Things were getting bad in my head.
See, I fought hard to get a guaranteed salary before I would go to work for Mike. I negotiated $30,000 a year; plus benefits; plus 10% commission after I paid back my draw. That was a lot of money for a small business that was only doing about $1 million in commercial services.
Back to breakfast. I order a sausage burrito. Mike had the same with coffee (details are important.) I couldn’t eat. Mike had no problems enjoying his breakfast.
Once Mike was done, he asked the question,
“Todd. How are sales going?”
“Terrible. I haven’t sold anything,” I said.
After several minutes of trying to honestly express my own disappointment, Mike asked,
“What would you do if you were me?”
“I would probably fire me,” I said.
Then Mike said something that will be with me the rest of my life:
“Todd’o my boy, just take care of the customer. The money will always be there.”
I loved him for that. I still feel gratitude towards him for those words. That began the process of repairing my confidence.
Mike’s decision to encourage me, not fire me, paid off.
The company added $2 Million in annual sales. The vast majority of those sales came through my new clients.
So, shortly after that meeting, I took the following steps with Mike’s blessing:
How to Repair Your Tech or Salesperson’s Confidence
1. Education: Mike gave me the opportunity to learn about the trade. And, he continued to pay me while went through my education process.
- So, I dove deeply into training. I committed to being a tech (not a salesmen) for a season so that I could learn about the business.
- I volunteered on Saturdays at no charge; and I absorbed everything I could get my hands on the topic of HVAC and Sales.
- Training and education is a common thread of the successful. Owner’s and team members alike understand that learning turns into earning. (Watch VIDEO.)
2. Baby Steps: Mike focused my goal on the first sale. There is power in just “slapping the ball.” He gave me ideas about whom I could contact from my previous relationships.
- The first contact I thought of was Benny Bean from The City of Bastrop. Benny gave me a small job for about $600. That job led to many more with the City and the Parish. I eventually had the entire City under agreement, and most of the Parish.
- A friendship I made on the Golf Course with Ben Krueger (WalMart HVAC/R tech) led to my first client job with WalMart. That relationship is still in place, and today Service 1st works for WalMart as a premier provider in 5 states.
3. Time: Mike invested in me. Often I would have dinner with him and his wife Kalinda at their home. He took time with me personally. For Mike, it wasn’t all business.
You can see that I have a great fondness for Mike. After all, he gave me my start in this business.
When I left the company, it hurt Mike. Mike invested a lot into me, and wanting me to stay.
Tip for Business Owners’: Great Team Members are usually a gift to steward.
Tip for Team Member’s: Great Team Leaders provide a gift today that you must share tomorrow.
I left for the opportunity to continue my education by working for Clockwork Home Services. I started as a trainer, and then become the Director of Success Academy. Eventually, I left Clockwork and pursued life as a business owner.
Even though it will be 10 years in 2014 since I last saw Mike, I’m still grateful. He taught me a lesson about confidence that I am still sharing today.