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The Motivator

by Steve Kravetz 2 months ago in advice
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Fear or Reward

The Motivator
Photo by Jesse Schoff on Unsplash

I had been on the job just for a few months, designing and selling swimming pools for a large national builder. The end of the year approached and because the company's National Sales Convention was in my hometown, I was able to attend.

It was to be two and a half days of equipment manufacturers pitching their products giving us all the information we needed to know how to sell the pump, filter, or water heaters. Maybe the information was on what made our pool sweep the best. Interior finishes, colored light system,and water treatment systems all had their sales managers there for the show. There were seminars on design, on technic to color the drawings so as to make them pop. Plenty of how to do. Lots how to sell better, all this was to help us to be better professionals.

Besides a hotel room we got three meals a day and a big award dinner party with wives set for the last night. The company had arranged shopping trips or museum visits for the wives during the days.

It was at the first lunch, which I came late to, that I met him. Most of the tables were already empty and much of the sandwich ingredients were gone. I put together something to chew on and sat down. When in walked one very strange looking guy he was wearing shorts, a Hawaiian Shirt and flip flops on his bare feet. Normal maybe, if we had been in Maui, but December in Dallas not really tropical. His red hair was all over his head and it looked like he had not shaved in a couple of weeks. This guy looked to me like he had been road hard and put away wet, and he came right over to me and sat down.

"Hey, how you dooung," were the first words that came out of his mouth at least the part that was not full of bread and baloney. "Joel," he reached out his hand.

"Steve," I replied taking his hand and grasping for the shake. "How you doing today Joel, just getting up are you?"

"No, I have been playing cards all night, did not get to sleep last night. Did I miss anything important this morning's meets?"

"No mostly just going over the agenda of the next few days, and there were a couple of design classes. Do you need any help in those areas, I am not an expert but would be happy to pass on what I picked up on if you want?"

"No," he smiles," but thanks, how long have you been selling pools, Steve?"

I answered, "I started here in Dallas about nine months ago, it has been an interesting job, how about you?"

Smiling again," I have been doing this for a while now, it is actually quite a story but we are late for the afternoon events, but I promise we will get back together soon, I promise."

We were off to the meets and events. I did not see Joel the rest of the day or that night either. The next morning we passed in the food line, "I'll get with you later today," he said.

That night at the award show all the Dallas guys were at one long table. The talk of the table was if Ripley, from our office, was going to be the top salesman in the country. The other was the buzz on who the company was bringing in as a featured motivational speaker. Every year they brought in a famous athlete, or a sucessful business person, to get the guys worked up for the new season.

The food was good, and the drinks were free. give aways of cash and treats were handed out in drawings and just before the evening ended the top three salesmen were announced. "Third place goes to, Jimmy Jackson from Miami with 86 pools sold and dug, the second place goes to Ripley Stephens from Dallas with 92 sold and dug pools. Our First place goes to the salesman who sold and dug 102 pools, Joel George, from San Diego."

No way I say to myself, this shlub, no way, I had put in a hard year and sold n dug 37 pools and I thought I was pretty good and I'm at least put together. Then there is this guy, someone that barely could put two words together and looked like a Raggy Andy doll. I had to talk to him, find what I missed and maybe he would share a bit of gold nugget of a secret to his sucess. I looked high and low for him after the dinner broke up, but no luck.

The breakfast was nice but everyone wanted to see who would be this years guest motivational speaker.

The president of the company came out and began his introduction. "Ladies and Gentleman it gives me great pleasure to introduce you all to a man you all will recognize. A man who is here to share his story, one that shows anyone with determination can move mountains. Our own top salesman Mr. Joel George."

When Joel came out he was wearing a nice pair of slacks, and dress shoes, but still in a hawaiian shirt.

" A few of you know my story, but most of the people don't. In the early 1980's I was employed as an asstant sign painter, not getting rich but keeping my head above water, barely. Then every thing went upside down and I lost my job. For over a year I could find nothing but day work on occasion. Then not even that. I came home one day from looking for work to an empty house and a note, my wife took our two girls and what little we had, including my old truck, and moved back in with her parents. I'm thinking well things can not get any worse, wrong. With in a few days I too was evicted. My total assets were two pair of sweats, one long, one a pair of shorts, three tees and one white dress shirt and a pair of flip flops. Plus my new ride a 26" Pink Barbie bike with a light, and metal basket in front and the handle bars had, a squeeze horn. I was so desperate that I reached out to everyone I knew. The best I got was a friend, of an acquaintance, had a fall out shelter I could use. I now offically hit bottom."

I looked around and Joel had the entire audience spellbound, ah, I think. This is how he sold so many pools.

"I found myself dumperster diving for food and Aluminum cans. It fed me and brought me a little cash. One late afternoon I got caught in a rain storm. I rushed to get under the covered of the retails center's extended roof. I was half drenched, cold and frustrated. Shaking myself off, I began scoping out what was around. As I looked into the window behind me I noted a small sign. Help Wanted, Telemarketer Needed, apply within. Now I had no idea what a telemarketer was, or did, but what I was dam sure knew whatever it was, it had to pay more than my aluminum can hustle was brought in. I slicked my hair back and walked in."

"We an't got any public restrooms here Buddy, so move on."

"This I got from the guy sitting at the first desk as I walk in. No sir I am here for the job, the one in the window." For the first time I began looking around and see this is a sales office for swimming pools.

The guy looks me up and down a couple of times then yells out, " Hey, Scott there is a guy here looking to fill the Telemarketing job."

"Out of one of the back offices walks a tall well dressed older guy, he took a long look at me.

"Come with me," Scott said, and I followed him into his office. "Sit, so what makes you think you can tellemarket?"

"My name is Joel George, I was a sign painter, and to be honest, I need a job, I'm not just broke but," I tell him my situation."Look Mr. I don't know what tellemarking is, but I know how to use a phone, and how to talk. If it pays, I am interested. I'll give you your days worth I promise, and if you are not happy with my work don't pay me."

"Scott Smith, I am the regional Sales manager, You just got you a job Joel, follow me and I'll show you what you will be doing."

"I followed Scott into a small room, no windows, just a old metal desk, one chair a couple of filing cabinet and of course a phone."

"I got eight sales men here in this office, each needs at least one appointment with an interested to buy, couple, folks willing to sit down and listen to one of these guys. It will be your job to make sure they have a place to go. Watch." He picked up the phone, "Hello Miss Jones, My name is Scott, I am with The Pool company and a while back we mailed you out one of our brochers about our company and our pools, do you remember getting it? Great, is the family still interested? Fantastic, I can get someone out tommorow night or Saturday morning which is a better time for you and your family. Saturday great, the visit is free and you will need a survey of the... See it is really that easy. These filing cabinets have thousands of the mailer cards, just make lots of calls, and set as many as you can. Can you do that?"

"Sure," I said, when do I start."

Come in tommorrow about three and I'll get you started."

"Whats wrong with now, I replied. That first night I went home with a sore finger and ear, but call it beginners luck, I set three appointments."

"Scott had explained the pay for Tellamarketers. $7.50 hr. a $10.00 bonus for every appointment set and made, another bonus of $75.00 if the saleman sold a pool and that pool was dug. I thought I had hit the lottery. Weeks went by, I would come in early, some time to go out with the superintendents to see how a pool actually was built, meeting contractors, and begining to feel good about my future. I was working seven days a week and glad I had somewhere to go besides my hole in the ground."

"At the end of the first week I went to Scott looking for my pay check.

"I'm sorry Joel, but we get paid on the first and fifteenth, so it's going to be ten days before your get your check. You have worked hard and I know you need some cash, so here.

" Scott reached into his wallet and pulled out two crisp $100. dollar bills."

"You can pay me back when you get paid. Get a hair cut, a few new clothes and pay for a few weeks down at that cheap-o motel. I'll see you tomorrow."

"I felt like I had found my new future. I worked hard that first month, set lots of leads and made a myself more money than I had ever before. Then one nasty Sunday, when the sky brought cold drizzle to pouring rain off and on all day, the phone rang and the salesman at the same front desk answered it."

"Hello, you have reached the worlds biggest and best swimming pool builder, Jack here, how may we help you? Yes sir, and when do you want to start this project? Yes sir, and have you had any one else out in the past to discuss your pool project? You would like to see someone today if possible, please hold let me check with the sales manager. Scott I got a guy on the phone who wants to see someone today, they are thinking about a pool for next year , you want to talk to him?"

"Jack, book it for yourself and go see them today, I'll cover the front desk." Scott was irritated that he even had to tell him that.

"This is a crap lead, they are not buying now, besides the game is going to be on in ten."

Before Scott could answer, I piped up. "If Jack does not want the chance I, will run it."

"You," Scott said, How on your bike?"

"Yea, sure, just give me a case and I'll take some rain gear from the constuction office and go out, I have been studying and listening, I can do this."

"Sure, Joel , go get them, Jack tell the man our man is upon his way and will be there as fast as he can pedal."

"I took Jacks case, put on a yellow slicker and begain my eight mile journey, It took me an hour and half, but when I got there I was tired but highly motvivated. The lady of the house answered the door."

"Oh my you actually did ride a bike, you must be drenched to the bone, come in and get dried off."

"Thank you , but is there a way to your backyard with outcoming through your lovely home first." She directed me to the side of the house. "It was a typical square yard with a drop to the back of the lot. I got out my tape measure, line with level, I was making notes and putting on a great show for my clients who watched from the kitchen window. I noted the utilities and after I got the basics, I came to the back sliding door, removed all my wet clothes and accepted a few towels. "My name is Joel George, and thank you so much for allowing me some of your precious time. For the next forty- five minutes we talked about every thing but swimming pools. I knew alot about them and their family. When we did finally get to the topic for which I had come I was prepared. I took their survey and my notes and started drawing the back yard in detail. So began the dance of creativity. With the clients help in a half an hour we had a design a perfect pool and a redesigned the back yard space so they now could call their own back yard the families personal paradise."

"I then began the pitch on the type of steel, the pressure of the gunite gun, why our equipment we provided was the best. I felt like Mr. Bo Jangles dancing to my own music. I asked the right questions so in the end all I had to do is write up the contract, which is exactly what I did. I went line to line over the contract so every one knew exactly what they were getting. If you would just sign here we will get this dream moving forward."

"Oh," she said, "We are not quite ready to begin today, we."

"This is where the sale really begins right? Look folks I know you love the pool plan right?"

"Oh we love it," he says, It is more beautiful than we thought possible, your drawing made me just want to jump into the paper. But."

"The equipment is there a concern, or maybe it is the company?"

"No," she says, "The equipment is fine and you guys have the best reputation, but."

"Look guys be honest, this is something you want in fact you wanted this for years according to you. So what is the real hold on this project, you will not hurt my feelings if it's me."

"Oh my Joel you are amazing, the pool is the most beautiful we have seen, the truth we are scared, we have heard neighbors who have had nightmares of experiences, we just don't want that headache."

"Thank you for being honest, You will have my number, you will have me personally to oversee any problems you encounter. You call any time, any day, I am on it. So lets me take the worry off your shoulders ok?"

"The contract was signed, but on a wim, I asked if they had an old working car or truck they did not need? " I had seen one under a tarp in the drive."

"Well yes, my daughters Tempest convertable, the car runs but the top will not go up."

"If we can get it running, I'll take $1500 off the top of the price." The deal was done. I loaded my bike in the back seat of my new ride and headed back to the office. I drove with the top down even with the sky poring rain and the car was blowing smoke. Sure and I was getting wet, but I was on a high like never before. When I pulled into the spot in front of the office, I don't think my feet touched the ground as I walked in to the office. I Sold Scott, thanks for the opportunity. It was my first sale it brought me a $3200 commission, plus the ride. I never looked back, but the fear of going back to living underground has kept me motivated. Each of us must find what are our fears and use them to motivate ourselves to push us to ask one more time for that signed contract. To ask why we can't do it now, to create urgency and desire. This is a challenge I give each of you so next year one of you will be here collecting big end of the year bonuses."

I was impressed and asked myself, 'what did I fear, what motivated me more fear or reward?' Each have their place.

Joel's story would stay with me, and when I got to the closing process it proved to be all the movitation I would need. It show me both sides of that coin, fear and reward.


About the author

Steve Kravetz

I am a 70 plus year old, award winning oral story teller from Rockwall Texas. My first novel took me 34 years to write, published in 2017.Since then I have published two books in 2020. Check out for more info.

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