February 13th, 2012
Learn From Your Elders
I have always tried to learn as much as I could about the art of salesmanship and was always fascinated by the sales process. I learned a lot about sales from my Dad.
“Selling is simple.” my Dad would tell me, “Be yourself and believe what you’re saying”… Maybe it really was just that simple, but Dad was different. He had been hustling to support his family since he was eight. Selling was as natural to him as breathing. I was from a new generation. I wasn’t born hungry. I didn’t need to make the money that bought the food my mother put on the table as a child.
I wanted to learn from the experience of others and I sought out successful salespeople to teach me what it took them a lifetime to learn. I wasn’t afraid to ask for or listen to advice from savvy old-timers. One of the old masters of selling who was willing to school me with his lessons was Pete Scatton.
Pete was one of the Scatton brothers who helped Dad get started in business. The Scatton brothers were some of the first to embrace the concept of making home improvement products out of the new, space-age metal called aluminum.
Scatton Brothers Manufacturing made aluminum awnings for windows, doors and patios. They made aluminum double-track and then triple-track glass and screen storm windows. They made aluminum storm doors. They even put the aluminum storm windows, storm door frames and patio awnings together to make patio rooms.
Where did they find their ingenuity? None of the Scatton brothers had any formal education, but in a garage they made brand new products the world had never seen and they turned their inventions into ready cash. All they had to do was sell it to homeowners.
Even though the Scatton Brothers were manufacturers, they started with no middle men–no dealers or distributors. Instead, the Scatton brothers sold the products they made in their garage directly to homeowners–because nothing happens until somebody sells something.
Although Pete considered himself a tool and die man and designed the awnings, storm windows and storm doors his family made, he was also especially good at selling these products to homeowners. During my teenage years Pete Scatton taught me his “Rules for Selling,” and there were plenty.
Pete had rules for everything to do with a sale. Pete even had rules for how to knock on a door–there really is only one right way to knock on a customer’s door, you know–but for this blog I’ll start with what I consider the “Five Big Rules of Good Salesmanship” and the “First Law of Sales” that I learned from Pete.
In my next few blog entries I’ll talk about different aspects of Pete’s Good Sales Rule #1 “Be Prepared to Sell.” In the meantime try to think of a “Pete Scatton” you may know. If you are lucky enough to know someone like Pete, with experience, who is willing to share what they know with you, don’t be afraid to ask them questions. Maybe, they will share the wealth of knowledge they have gained through their lifetime of experience with you. You might be surprised to find what you can learn from your elders if you are willing to listen.