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I grew up the son of an entrepreneur. My father was Bill Colwell. For anyone who was in Waterloo, Iowa in the early 70s you could not miss him. He ran TV commercials on channel 7 every night for Schukei Chevrolet. This was when I was in junior high. Every night my dad would get on TV and say “Hi, I’m Bill Colwell for Schukei Chevrolet and I’m crazy!”. Yes, I got tough fast. But more importantly, growing up around an entrepreneur who did not finish high school and did not have a direct path to success, it was a learning experience.
My Dad had a lot of sayings. Many of these have been of great value to me in my career. I would like to share a few of these with you as they have helped me grow my businesses.
- Tell the truth, you never have to remember what you said. Boy is this more true than ever. Back in his day there was no internet and social media data pile storing everything you ever said or did. I cannot tell you how many times this has saved me with a customer or vendor.
- Sell what you can see, don’t see what you can sell. When I first starting selling cars, I would come back into the store and tell my dad that “if we just had xxx car” or “if it just had power seats” I would have sold it. My dad pointed to the rows of cars and said “see those cars, that is all the money we have. We have to sell those cars”. That was the long version of “Sell what you can see, don’t see what you can sell”. In business you have to sell what you have to sell.
- Smile and dial. We did a lot of cold calling. Can you imagine taking out a phone book and dialing random numbers to try to sell someone a car? Well, I tried to do it. One thing my dad taught me was “Smile and Dial”. In other words, when you are talking to a customer, smile! You will sound much more positive. Also, look up and straight out to the horizon. Your voice will be more clear.
- Shut up and Write. When the customer said yes, shut up and write up the deal. If you keep talking, you may say the wrong thing and talk the customer back out of the deal. Even today I will have experiences where a salesperson keeps talking and starts to confuse the situation. They need to “shut up and write!”
My dad learned by failing many times. These sayings of his are hard won knowledge. My dad passed away in 2001 of lung cancer. I miss him. I will never forget him or his sayings.