Friday, February 1, 2008


This post is the first in of series of sales posts I told you I'd be writing. If you have points you'd like to add, let me know in the comments section. Here we go...

A quote by Niccolo Machiavelli ~

"All courses of action are risky, so prudence is not in avoiding danger (it's impossible), but calculating risk and acting decisively. Make mistakes of ambition and not mistakes of sloth. Develop the strength to do bold things, not the strength to suffer."

A brilliant point! And it begs a question that any sharpener (or salesperson for that matter) should be asking. What kind of actions are we taking?

Too often we are afraid to start our businesses or take them to the next level. "How do I file my sales tax?" "What will happen if I buy a bunch of inventory and it doesn't sell?" "How will I ever be able to sell myself" "I have to cold call?!!" "I'm not a salesman!" "They won't want my shears!"

It's easy for us to come up with excuses to NOT take action. Starting a business, or taking it to another level, is rarely a comfortable process. This is because it forces us to step out of our comfort zones. Every part of it "feels" risky. This leads to fear! But that fear is often unfounded. Mark Twain said this ~

"I am an old man and have known many troubles, but most of them never happened."

All of the concerns I've heard above aren't real; they're perceived. Let's answer each:

"How do I file my sales tax?" - Just call your county offices. In ever town and state I've lived I've found the people that work in county administration helpful and knowledgeable. Most if this can also be done online or through an accountant. I'm embarrassed to tell all of you that one of the first questions I asked Lee Wolff when I started my sharpening business in the early nineties was, "How will I pay my taxes?" He said, "Why don't you worry about making some money before you worry about paying taxes?" I've applied this kind of advise to every "perceived" obstacle in my life ever since.

"What will happen if I buy a bunch of inventory and it doesn't sell?" - The great part about the kind of inventory we typically stock as sharpeners is it doesn't spoil! A husband and wife team called just the other day and were lamenting over whether to buy 12 shears from a supplier because they had to order 12 of each shear to meet their minimum. I asked, "Why are you worried about this?" They said, "What if we can't sell them?" I then pointed out that the shears don't spoil, they are buying them a 50% off list and if worst comes to worst, they can always sell them for what they paid for them. This is a classic case of VERY little risk and LOTS of potential reward.

"How will I ever be able to sell myself" or "I have to cold call?!!" - Putting yourself in front of people and facing rejection can be scary. The best advise I can give is just force yourself to do it. It is always hard to do the first few times you do it. But the more you knock on doors and ask for business, the easier it gets. Before you know it your confidence level will grow and so will your business. Don't get too hung up on this though! I could point you to all kinds of great books and videos online, but NOTHING teaches like DOING!

"I'm not a salesman!" and "They won't want my shears!" You can be if you work at it! And how do you KNOW no one will be interested in the shears you're carrying?

Part of starting a business is overcoming fear. This is a risk, but the right KIND if risk! So here are a few exercises I want you to start working on.

1. If you haven't started your business yet, go to OfficeMax or and order some cards. Set a goal to visit 5 to 10 customers each day for the next 2 weeks if your starting part-time or 30 to 40 if full-time. Do more if you can! Don't worry if they say no, just keep knocking and don't quit!

2. If you're already sharpening and having trouble selling shears, start taking you display case into the shops with you EVERY TIME! Lay them out when you say hello. Leave it open while you're sharpening. And before you leave, ask if anyone has any questions about the shears they looked at. Sometimes they'll be too busy to look, but if they have any free time, people that work with shears LOVE to try new ones! Give them the opportunity! You will sell more of them I promise!

The next sales post in this series will be based on a quote about how to succeed. Keep your eyes open! It will be coming soon!

Image: Freedom of Expression

1 comment:

  1. Jim,

    This is great info as are many of your posts. As someone like myself just getting started, I am constantly looking for advise like this where ever I can.

    See you on 2/20 for training.

    John B