I once heard about a new salesman who went to work for a company selling office stationery. After the initial week of training the salesman was allocated his territory or sales area, but before he hit the road, so to speak, he was ushered into the office of the sales manager for some last minute instructions and a pep talk. The sales manager told the new salesman that they, the company, had great hopes for him. Furthermore, to get him started and give him some first-hand experience in the processing of the an order, the Sales Manager was going to send him to an account nearby, that the company had been doing business with for many years. The sales manager went on to say, “Now, this man I’m sending you to is a very difficult person. He can be stubborn, awkward and very obnoxious but, unfortunately, that’s just the way he is. We know from years of experience, that if you hang in there, don’t let him rile you or get at you, if you persist in a friendly manner and keep asking for the order, then eventually he’ll give it to you. He always does.”

With that the new recruit, armed with a positive attitude and full of enthusiasm, sets off down the street to make his first sales call and become initiated. Just as the sales manager had said, the customer was indeed very obstinate, but the new salesman did as he was told: he stuck it out and kept trying for the order. Sure enough, his enthusiasm, positive attitude and persistence paid off, and eventually he walked away with a very sizeable order indeed.

Upon returning to the office, the new recruit began to process the order and handed a copy of his sales report to the sales manager’s secretary. Moments later the sales manager bounded up to the salesman’s desk, frantically waving the sales report in the air and exclaiming that the sizeable order was, in fact, the largest single order ever written in the history of the company to date. The sales manager congratulated him and asked how he did it. Somewhat taken aback, the salesman related how the customer had given him a really hard time, just as the sales manager had said he would, but the salesman just let it all brush over his head. He remained positive and was expectant, and so kept plugging away for the order, which eventually came, just as the manager had said it always did.

The sales manager seemed puzzled and looked again at the copy of the order. Then it was his turn to be taken aback. With a sudden gasp of astonishment the sales manager blurted out, “My goodness, you went to see the wrong chap! For over twenty years we’ve been trying to find a way in to this account but we’ve never before been able to get so much as a look in. I’d given up on this fellow years ago.”

Now, the new salesperson was full of enthusiasm and had a positive mental attitude, there is no doubt about that. But success was not determined nor was the sale made in front of the customer. Success was determined beforehand, in the mind of the salesperson before he had even met the customer. The new salesman simply didn’t know any better and so he had already decided that the customer was going to buy. You see, when it comes to business and especially to the profession of selling, attitude is the kingpin of success. The following phrase just about sums it up: “If you don’t have a P.M.A. (positive mental attitude) when you meet your customer, then you’ll be D.O.A. (Dead On Arrival)!

R. Ian Seymour

R. Ian Seymour, excerpt taken from Maximize Your Potential.)