My first real job was my paper route but not sure I count that. I was 13 years old; had it for two years; got up early, folded papers and delivered on my bike. Collections were the most interesting; going door to door asking for payment. I used to have people ask me for a payment plan as if I had any decision making authority.
My first relevant job where I made some money was as a shoe salesman at Just for Feet. My job was selling athletic shoes. I got paid minimum wage, which as I recall was 3.45/hr. But that wasn’t what excited me. What I enjoyed most about that job was the commissions! When I interviewed they told me that I could make a commission on each pair of shoes I sold. As a 15 yr old kid, all I saw was dollar signs, and I was going to do whatever I could to sell a pair of shoes. Once I started , I saw there was a board in the break room that tallied who was leading in shoe sales per month. That’s all I needed to drive me back then; I was determined to do whatever it took to make it to the top of that list and stay there. I was the top salesman for 6 months straight and made more money than I ever had.
Now how many times have you bought a pair of shoes and askes the shoe salesman for his/her opinion?
- What would you recommend if I have narrow feet and a high arch?
- Or My back has been hurting; do you think a better cushioned sole would help?
- And My son just made the basketball team, and I want to get him a pair of shoes that protects his ankles from turning?
- Those are just a few that I remember, but there we plenty of more…
In my 15 year old mind, I already knew what a buying sign was, and it was the questions I got asked. They seriously thought a kid truly knew what was best for their feet. Who was I to tell them otherwise. So we just faked it; anything I could tell them to sell a pair of shoes, I was going to say. I would lead them right to the most expensive shoes, put them side by side with another pair of expensive shoes, and then just tell them what they wanted to hear.
“These Nike Air Max are the best for narrow feet and high arches. All my customers that have bought these come back and tell me how much better their feet feel. You see how the air pocket is strategically placed towards the heel? That’s designed to cushion feet with high arches”
Then we would tack on insoles and special socks to sweeten the deal!
I wanted to share this story on this blog b/c I believe it’s those first jobs in life that shape who we become. It was then that I learned I was a born salesman. I was selling value before it was cool, but I didn’t have the knowledge. We were just taught to say whatever the customer wanted to hear. Fast forward to today, and value based selling still works best. But now, you can make sure the person selling to you has credibility. We can see their profiles on LinkedIn, check out the website of their company, and see what recommendations they have. Most of the time, we can make a decision on their reputation before we buy. That’s the lesson that I learned that I follow to this day, whether I’m in front of a potential client, or if I’m about to be a client. That and don’t ever trust what a shoe salesman tells you 😊