Not to be xenophobic or anything like that, but it’s not terribly incorrect to say that America has produced some of the best business leaders that this world has seen. Thanks to the dedication, hard work, and risk of a few, we are all now able to enjoy a lifestyle that would have seemed impossible just a couple hundred years ago. These people have lived/are living a life of extraordinary success, and we as salespeople and sales leaders can certainly learn a thing or two from them.
While some of these people don’t necessarily fall in to the category of “professional salesperson”, their lessons can definitely be applied to our craft. After all, it doesn’t really matter what industry or what profession you are actually in. At the end of the day, you’re either selling a product, an idea, or yourself. Sales is everywhere, and these people have certainly mastered it and have left behind words of wisdom for future generations of business people.
You can never quit. Winners never quit, and quitters never win.- Ted Turner, founder of CNN and net worth of $2.2 Billion
Ted Turner’s father took his own life and left a billboard business behind. Ted could have just given up and been too overwhelmed with it all, but instead, he rose to the challenge, turned the business in to a huge success. Using the money from that, he bought a local TV station in Atlanta and founded CNN. The rest is history.
When having a bad month or when getting overwhelmed (in your job or your personal life), it’s easy to throw your hands up and say “screw it, I give up this month”. Once you give up, you can never achieve success. You might be one sales call away from a massive sale, but if you give up, you’ll never even get that opportunity.
I do not think that there is any other quality so essential to success of any kind as the quality of perseverance. It overcomes almost everything, even nature.– John Rockefeller, founder of Standard Oil and net worth of $340 Billion (in today’s dollars)
Rockefeller, who is often cited as the single most wealthy American ever to exist (and possibly the most wealthy human being to ever walk the planet) knew the power of perseverance. His father was a failed scam artist and John was often the one supporting his whole family at a very young age. In his early business ventures, he faced bankruptcy and often had to take personal loans from the bank to continue on. During his later years, he faced constant antitrust legal troubles. Through it all, his passion and drive to succeed never buckled. Much like in sales, perseverance is absolutely key, especially when the going gets tough.
People who are unable to motivate themselves must be content with mediocrity, no matter how impressive their other talents.- Andrew Carnegie, founder of US Steel and net worth of $310 Billion (in today’s dollars)
Andrew has a similar story to John Rockefeller. He came from extreme poverty and eventually become one of the wealthiest people that has ever lived. He knew that the people who only wanted to “get by” would never achieve greatness, despite how good they were. On several occasions, Andrew admitted that he was not particularity good himself, but just possessed a strong desire to be the best.
I started the site when I was 19. I didn’t know much about business back then.– Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook and net worth of $35.7 Billion
Facebook is the biggest thing that has hit the internet since the internet itself. Mark founded Facebook during his time at Harvard as a student. He had no idea how big it would be and had not idea how to run a business. All he knew is that he wanted to make a great and cool website.
In sales, knowledge helps, but a lack of knowledge is never an excuse to not try. Although Mark didn’t know anything about business, he eventually became one of the best businessman of the century. Although you might feel like you don’t know a lot about sales or closing techniques or psychological “tells” of customers, that’s not an excuse to give up and not try. You will learn on the way, much like Mark did. Yes, you’ll make mistakes, but that’s all part of the learning process.
Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.– Bill Gates- founder of Microsoft and net worth of $79.4 Billion
Think about your most successful sales call. What did you learn from it? Probably not a whole lot, because you were happy with your huge sale and felt on top of the world. Why would you even look for learning opportunities when you feel like a huge success?
It’s better to hang out with people better than you. Pick out associates whose behavior is better than yours and you’ll drift in that direction.– Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway and net worth of $63.3 Billion
You are a product of your environment. If you have out with low to medium performers who are not motivated, that attitude and their habits will eventually migrate to you. If you hang around the most elite performers, you will not only gain their habits, but learn from them as well. In sales, we need to be constantly learning, adapting, and improving.
Doing the best at this moment puts you in the best place for the next moment. – Oprah Winfrey, proprietor of the Oprah Winfrey Show and net worth of $3.1 Billion
We all know Oprah’s story. She came from extreme poverty and from an extremely abusive environment. If you read her life story, it’s a sequence of small steps that eventually led to her massive success and wealth. She understood that there are certain things out of our control, so doing the absolute best in your situation will give you the best opportunities during the next situation.
Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work. -Thomas Edison, inventor and net worth of $200 million (in today’s dollars)
Thomas Edison famously failed thousands of times before he invented the light bulb. He knew that it would not be a walk in the park, but it would require thousands upon thousands of hours and hard work. Yes, sales is hard. Knocking on doors and calling people all day is really hard. Nothing will be handed to you on a silver platter. Successful salespeople work hard and make their own success.
Go as far as you can see; when you get there, you’ll be able to see farther. – JP Morgan, founder of JP Morgan & Chase and net worth of $41.5 billion (in today’s dollars)
If you are in sales and are a top performer, you know about goal setting and quotas. If you set your goal at something and you achieve it, suddenly, you start to think that you can get more and do better next month. This is the mental attitude that keeps top performers on the top month after month. No matter what goal you achieve, if you are humble enough and honest enough with yourself, you’ll see that you can do better next time, even if you were #1 last month.
I’m intimidated by the fear of being average. -Taylor Swift, musician and net worth of $250 million.
Taylor isn’t a businessperson by trade, but she recently topped the charts as the highest earning entertainer of 2015. She is literally terrified of being mediocre. It reflects in her music and in her business decisions. Every single salesperson should be intimidated by being an average performer.
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Author: Jason Karaman
Hello! I’m a marketing, sales, and customer service expert, trainer, author, and doer. I live in the South Carolina Lowcountry with my wife, Ashley. I enjoy reading (history, philosophy, and science are my favorite topics), writing, hiking, kayaking, and all things beach. For media inquiries, send an email to JasonKaraman@ExpertCaller.com