This week Bruce is joined by Ben Gay III. He is a living legend in the sales and sales training world. He has over 46 years in professional sales experience. He has been the number 1 salesman for every organization he has ever worked with. At age 27 he was the president of what was the world’s largest direct sales company. He was personally trained by other sales legends such as Earl Nightengale, J. Douglas Edwards, Dr. Napoleon Hill and others. Ben now publishes “The Closers” series of books, audios, videos, newsletters and teleconference trainings. Bruce considers Ben’s work to be the best sales information he has ever seen. Ben and his wife GG live in Northern California.
Ben was encouraged by his father to make money when he was 14. He tried mowing lawns in Atlanta, and he quickly discovered that he did not like physical labor. His father then suggested that he recruit his friends to do the work, and split the profits with them after inspection. He operated on a “pay us what you think its worth” basis, which generally meant that people paid twice what the work was worth. He eventually had 25 kids working for him, and he collected 50% of their profits.
As a senior in high school, he began working at Macy’s. He became the number 1 sales person there over 3 years time. He still needed more money, because his former wife was going through nursing school, so he answered a “wanted” ad in the paper. The ad said, “if you know anything about marketing plans, and you want to make more money, call this number.” He dialed the number, and Bill Dembski answered the phone. Ben tried to impress Bill by talking about his background, but Bill cut him off saying, “I’m not the man standing in a phone booth answering ‘wanted’ ads. If you want to talk to me, I’m at 1447 West Peachtree Street. You have ten minutes to be at my desk, or don’t ever call this number again.”
During the first six months, he did not make a penny. Bill Dembski then came to Ben, and said he did not want Ben to come to the meetings until Ben started following the scripts. Ben then started following the scripts, and during the next 6 months, he made $101,000. In 1965, that was a lot of money, especially for a 23 year old man. Within two years, he became the number one sales person there and president of the company.
This was a significant period of time in sales. There was a company called Holiday Magic, which was the melting pot of the greatest sales talents in the country. It was also one of the few direct sales companies in existence. Everybody who had a name in sales, either became a somebody in Holiday Magic or already had a name.
One of Bruce’s favorite quotes from “Closers 2” said, “A stranger had been able to analyze me, take me apart mentally, reassemble me in a different form, redirect my thinking, gently force me to a decision, relieve me of a large sum of money, and make me feel good about it.” That was Bill Dembski.
When Ben and his friend began working for Dembski, they were required to pay 94 dollars for training. When he began his first day of training, he learned that an “Organizer” could make decent money, but you didn’t make good money until you were a “Master Distributor”. His friend had to sell his car to get them the “Master Distributor” rank. Not long after that, they realized that weren’t actually going to make good money until they reached the position of “General Distributor”. The cost for that position was $2,500, so at that point they brought in a partner to pay the cost by taking a second loan against his house. Six months later, he began learning the business.
Six months is a long time to hold onto something without making a dime. The people who inspired him to press forward were the wealthy sales people surrounding him. He saw multiple successful people with brand new Lincolns, and he was so embarrassed about his condition that he hid his car and walked to work. When he saw these successful sales people, he knew there was a way to make money in the business and wondered how they did it. Sadly it took Ben a while to realize the secret to success even though the secrets were constantly being shown to him. People were sitting down with their prospects, going word for word through the script Ben had refused to learn. People were bringing others to their meetings using scripts, and Ben still didn’t want to learn the script. Ben did everything necessary to fail, yet he still kept looking at the successful people thinking, “I want to be like them.”
One of the best things Ben’s parents ever did for him was to set his comfort zone high. Ben’s father’s friends were the chairman of Coca Cola and other giant companies, so Ben was comfortable around those types of people, and Ben assumed that was how people were supposed to live. Once Ben left home, he was living off what his father was paying him, but it wasn’t much. When Ben and his wife walked into their first apartment, he was unsatisfied with their living condition, and that was when he started looking for the “wanted” ads.
A quote in Ben’s book says, “Quit today if you are not totally convinced that you are not selling a product or service that you are particularly wild about. Until you are selling something you are really that wild about, you are little more than a carnival barker.” That is a strong statement, but Bruce feels it is the truest statement he has ever heard.
Ben works with a client in Atlanta named Hue Harris, and Ben gets excited about working for Hue because Hue does not sell a product unless it is the best. Sales people complicate a sales process, because sales trainers complicate the process for them. Ben believes 85% of all the problems in selling can be solved if you sell a quality product that is competitively priced and spend your day talking to qualified customers.
Ben was once at a seminar for automobile dealers. One of the salesmen at the seminar told him that he was having trouble selling the Yugo. Ben told the salesman that if he wanted to sell more Yugo’s then he should take people hostage and force them to purchase it. When Ben asked the salesman why he chose to sell Yugos, the salesman said, “Because it was the cheapest car.” Ben’s response was, “Maybe that was a good reason not to sell it.” Why not sells luxury cars and spend your time talking to qualified people? Ben could be excited about selling Cadillacs or Rolls Royces. He could be excited about selling a good quality vacuum cleaner too.
Years ago, Ben was responsible for selling a lawn mower called the Quad Cut. Instead of 19 inches wide, which was typical for that time period, this lawn mower was 50 inches wide. That cut down the number of turns you had to take around the yard. It also had 4 blades instead of one, so it looked like someone had cut the grass with scissors. Later on, the company went out of business. Looking back, Ben should have asked why they were going out of business, but he didn’t. He sold 500 of those lawn mowers. The next summer, he went to a lawn mower repair warehouse, and he found a large pile of Quad Cuts. It turns out that the belt driven blade system, which the Quad Cut used, was bad in a moist state like Atlanta with lots of wet grass. That is an example of when you can effectively sell a bad product. To effectively sell a bad product, you have to be ignorant of its poor quality, and Ben was.
Whenever a salesman tries to sell you a “big ticket” product, Ben suggests that you ask the salesman if he owns the product as well. Whenever Bruce considers buying a car, he asks the salesman what kind of car he drives and where he lives.
The number to contact Ben is 1-800-248-3555. Bruce would encourage you to give Ben a call. He will answer the phone and he can make you a better sales person.
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