Find Your Passion By Knowing What You Want.
After 12 years as a stay at home Mom and a one year return to teaching I decided I needed something new. I loved staying home when my children were little. There was a lot to do and I was busy. As they grew older they became more self-sufficient. They needed me less and were happy in school and with friends.
I wanted to find something that would make me happy too. (Even then I wanted to be happy at work!) I had a degree in teaching but when I returned to the classroom I found it was not as challenging and exciting for me as it once was.
I did a lot of soul searching. What did I really want? What were my strengths-the ones I enjoyed using. How could I leverage my teaching experience in a new profession? Passion was not something I considered. I knew I wanted to enjoy my work but passion was a bit over the top for me.
I also did a lot of reading. Women had been limited to teaching, nursing or business administration when I went to school. Now all sorts of fields were open to me. I finally decided on sales.
My friends and family thought I was crazy. Teaching was dignified, prestigious, and steady work. Sales was not considered any of those. Teaching was perfect for a single mother. Some told me I did not have a sales personality. My own father told me I’d never be good at sales because I did not know how to lie!!(Guess what he thought of sales people?!) Most wondered how I would make the sales necessary to make a living.
To be honest I wondered too. I was scared but motivated. I had two young children to clothe and feed. I knew I could make a decent living for them if I got good at sales. I was determined. (I probably was passionate about earning a good living for myself and my children.)
Persistence Pays Off.
What I knew about myself is that I learn by doing and once I set my mind to learning something I am very persistent. What is that old saying, “Where there is a will there is a way.” My plan was to get a job selling a technical product that required me to “teach” the client about the product. I was sure I could do that.
My first sales job was selling answering machines (in the days before voice mail) for a company that sold telephone peripherals. Frankly the company had only male sales people and they were looking for a woman. (As Barbara Corcoran says in her book “Use what you’ve got.”) Few people even knew what answering machines did or how they worked. It was my job to educate them. In the two years I worked for this small company I was their top producer. I didn’t produce enough to carry the whole company however and they folded. To say the least I was devastated.
New Career Plan
Back to square one I needed to figure out a new career plan. Now that I had had a successful experience in sales I decided I wanted to sell a more complex product in a large corporation-one that would never go out of business.
Since I had been selling telephone equipment, I decided to target New England Telephone (NET) as my first choice. I applied to many other places but NET was the place I really wanted to work. As part of AT&T it looked solid! I tapped into my network (before social media) and found some really useful connections. Luckily one went to bat for me and got me an interview with NET.
An interview and role play.
During one of the 5 parts of the interview process with New England Telephone I had to role play a sales call! You can imagine how nervous I was before it. (Looking back I realize how much I wanted the job because the idea was enough to make me want to run away.)
I was given a case study to read and absorb before the role play would begin. It was a challenge sifting through the huge amount of data they provided and remembering enough of the facts to engage with the customer. Often when I am nervous my mind goes blank. I needed to calm myself enough to absorb the important details.
I learned that I would be selling advertising products to two people who worked for a manufacturer. I had to convince them to place an order. Talk about stressful!! I’d never done anything like this in my life. With my heart in my mouth I began to talk to the customers. I did my best to persuade them but had no idea whether what I had done was good enough to get me the job. I heard nothing for a week. It seemed like a month! Then one day when I had almost given up I got the call with the job offer. I was thrilled.
Thinking about this today (this happened over 20 years ago) I am struck by my persistence and determination. Without any skills I set out to learn how to do something I had never done before (sell) and then to get a job selling for a company I had admired all my life. That I succeeded seems amazing to me now.
Are you ready to make a change in your career or your life?
When I first went into sales my family and friends were very negative about my idea. I would have loved someone who was neutral to listen to me. There might have been some sales opportunities that I overlooked. I had never heard of coaching then. When I lost my job I would have liked a neutral party to help me prepare for my next step. Again coaching was not available then. If you are transitioning from one career to another, one stage of life to another or you would like to make a change, I can be of help to you. While my clients could do this by themselves, I make it easier for them and help them to see what their blind spots are. I am a sparker. Are you ready for a coach? Call me at 781-598-0388 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out if coaching is for you.