Sales Coach Christine Harrington

3 Lessons I Wish I Knew When I First Started Selling

My first sales job was back in 1982. And 34 years later… I’ve learned a few things…a few lessons I wish I knew when I first started selling. In this article, I’d like to share with you those lessons so hopefully, you can avoid making the same mistakes I made in the beginning.

3 Lessons I Wish I Knew When I First Started Selling.

Lesson #1 Sales Training Never Ends!

After my initial sales training, back in 1982, I thought I knew it all! And when I became moderately successful at sales, I thought I had arrived!

Boy….big mistake. Sales training never ends! To avoid the same mistake, let me invite you to do what I do now…I read one sales book each month. And I have a few favorites that I’ve read over and over…

Zig Ziglar’s Over the Top

Jeb Blount’s Fanatical Prospecting

Many sales pro’s fall into the trap of getting into the groove of selling and thinking….

“If it ain’t broke why fix it?”   

My answer is…“When you stop learning, you stop growing.”

 If you want to push to the next level of achievement in your sales career, keep educating yourself in order to grow. The consequence of, thinking you know it all in sales, is complacency sets in. Instead of growing blooms of success, acceptance of mediocrity plants weeds into your sales dream. And before you know it, you’ve settled into the lie of “this is as good as it gets.”

Has selling changed since 1982…you bet it’s changed because the buyer has changed! And it seems every decade since 1982 has brought a more sophisticated, and educated buyer.

Be honest with yourself…are you still selling the same way? I hope you’re not because the buyer isn’t buying the same way.

Now might be the right time for you to work with a sales coach or start a home library to begin filling it with sales books. Take one idea a month and start implementing it into your sales life.

Lesson #2 Don’t Underestimate the Handwritten Note.

In my beginning, before laptop computers and PC’s, (That’s how old I am), I sent handwritten notes after a sale to my new clients and I sent birthday cards. Then comes the dawn of email…and everybody thought email was better than sliced bread! So I jumped on the bandwagon and sent emails, instead of personalized handwritten notes.

Years later, I ran into one of my old clients. He said…

You know…. Years ago, you sent me a handwritten condolence note when my mother died. I carried that handwritten note around with me for years because your kindness touched me so profoundly.

Wow! I realized you never know the lives you touch….even in business. So I went back to handwritten much so that at the beginning of 2016, I got the idea to send one handwritten a note a week to people who inspire me. One such person was Sally Hogshead. So I sent Sally a handwritten note on how much I admired her work on branding, through her concept product called Fascination Advantage System.

(I love it so much, I feature it on the right column of my website.) imgres-1

A few weeks passed, and a call came through on my cell phone from Orlando, FL. When I answered it, it was Sally telling me she received my note and how surprised and touched she was because NOBODY sends handwritten notes these days! We both laughed about that! Crazy, but this proves again that even handwritten notes can differentiate you from the competition!

Lesson #3 Cold Calling Is Still Relevant.

When I first started selling, I begrudgingly cold called. I hated it in every way. So you can imagine how thrilled I was when all the so-called experts started saying that cold calling was dead! So I stopped doing it and I refused to admit that my sales suffered because of it.

Dumb Dumb Dumb!

Learn from my mistake and use every prospecting tool available…even cold calling!

So, I learned a better, smarter way to cold call…and it helped me so much, I was interviewed for an upcoming article for a local media company on Cold Calling. You can watch a portion of the interview video here…it’s called 3 Clever Tips to Cold Calling Follow-up. You can read my own article here. 

Frankly, cold calling follow-up is rarely talked about but it’s actually quite brilliant! You can watch it here.

The feedback I received on 3 Clever Tips to Cold Calling Follow-up was all over the map. Here are a few examples:

One engineer on LinkedIn ranted on my post about cold calling. He clearly didn’t like the article or sales people!

Another sales trainer sent me an email saying he doesn’t teach cold calling but instead networking.

A follower sent me an email saying cold calling absolutely works for him if it’s done the right way. He gave me examples that were similar to mine, proving you must know the right way to cold call.

And yet another follower told me she makes 50 cold calls a day. She sees it as a necessity to grow her sales.

Overall, 3 Clever Tips to Cold Calling Follow-up received the highest number of emails I’ve received to date on any article I’ve written thus far! (I’d love for all of you to post your comments in the comment section below or my YouTube channel. Your comments were very good and could be helpful to all the others in the community.)

I bring this up because clearly there is much discussion, and varied opinions about cold calling. It has almost become a “taboo” subject with a lot of emotions surrounding it. And I believe the reason is, cold calling as sales professionals make us feel the most vulnerable. Without a doubt cold calling has the highest degree of rejection rate and you’re probably thinking…

who needs more rejection!

If you can separate the vulnerability of rejection to seeing cold calling as one more tool to make you successful, you’ll be more willing to learn the correct ways to cold call. AND I’m convinced when the “sales experts” say cold calling is dead, what they’re really saying is they’re not good at it or they don’t know how to cold call.

The real truth is….if you hone your cold calling skills…you’ll love it because it’s still relevant in today’s B2B selling. People still want to connect with people not sophisticated marketing robo calls. Have you ever gotten one of those calls…weird?

Forrester Research released a study on how B2B marketers will be allocating budgets AND the #1 category across the board is face-to-face events. You can read the article here.

Cold calling, done the right way, will get you more face-to-face events. That’s why it’s still relevant. One business owner told me, receiving cold calls from sales people, is just a part of his normal business day.


Let me address networking. It’s just one tool in the prospecting tool kit. Don’t fall into the trap of making it your only prospecting tool.

Networking is very diverse by city and region. What works in NYC sure doesn’t work in Indianapolis. Just last week, I took a prospect to lunch and invited another business to join us that I thought might add value to my prospects business.

I brought up networking as a discussion point to get their feedback. The consensus was in the Indianapolis area, networking was more a social event than a true B2B networking strategy. It confirmed my experience.

So instead, we committed to holding a networking event for our prospects and clients to meet, in order to help their businesses. I don’t know if there is an official buzzword for this….but I call it giving value.

Now it’s your turn…

Let me ask you…what mistakes have you made and what did you learn?

PLEASE…Instead of emailing me, leave your comments below because YOU have wonderful ideas! I love receiving your emails….but I’m the only one who gets to read them and your experiences and ideas are so helpful…I learn from you and I’d love the community to learn from you too!

So…leave your thoughts below!



6 thoughts on “3 Lessons I Wish I Knew When I First Started Selling

  1. I’m new at sales and my boss recommended following you. Cold calling is part of my accountabilities and I’ve read that many sales thought leaders say not to cold call. I was surprised that you recommend it. Can you give more tips on cold calling?

    1. Welcome to sales Sean! Awesome of your boss to recommend me…I’m so grateful. Go on over to my YouTube channel and subscribe. I’m in the processing of making another video on cold calling with more tips. Just remember, when cold calling, your interrupting the prospect’s day and you have about a 5 second window to grab his attention! Not much time at all. So your message has to compelling enough for the prospect to want to listen. Do your research on the business before cold calling. Thanks you for engaging!

  2. I agree with you that the buyer is more educated now. Lesson Learned: Buyers have taught me about the competition. I’ve had several embarrassing moments when the buyer knew more about the competitor’s product than I did. It taught me a big lesson on preparation. Like you said in another post, do deeper research.

    1. Thanks James for sharing your Lesson Learned moment. I hear you…I’ve had the same embarrassing moment too. You turned the embarrassment into an opportunity of better preparing yourself for the sales call. I bet your sales improved too.

  3. I’m a new realtor in a pretty affluent marketplace. It seems my market has thousands of realtors. How do I differentiate myself when there’s one on every corner? Thanks.

    1. Welcome Sophie to the community and thanks for your question. Whatever all the other realtors are doing in your market…do the opposite! Seriously! Are you networking to meet developers? Do you have a great newsletter to send out to existing and potential buyers creating value by giving them homeowner tips or buying /selling tips? Are reaching out in neighbors you’ve targeted with letters letting them know if they are interested in selling, you can bring them buyers? Education selling, by showing them research they should consider… positioning you as an expert not just another person selling houses.
      I appreciate your engagement Sophie!

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