Sales Lessons From My Late Father

With Father’s Day having just passed, I thought I’d share some great sales lessons I learned from my late father, Don W. Bellah, Sr. He passed away in 2004 and last Thursday would’ve been his 83rd birthday.

He was absolutely hilarious and the source of my sense-of-humor, receding hairline and genetic heart issues. Hey, one outta three ain’t bad!

Seriously, he taught me so much, including a few hidden gem sales lessons. I just wish I would’ve realized it at the time.

You Cant Sell Out of An Empty Tub

Though he spent most of his adult life in the accounting industry, Daddy was in the insurance business as a younger man and was a master salesman—even if he didn’t realize it. Many times I can remember him saying, “You can’t sell out of an empty tub”—meaning without something to offer your client, you’re out of business.

I don’t know that he was talking about a tangible inventory, either. If we don’t have something of value to offer our clients or prospects—information, knowledge, resources—we are going to be beaten by someone who does.

If It Was Easy, Anybody Could Do It

I was blessed to have parents who instilled in me a belief that I could do or be anything. I was only limited by my own imagination. At the same time, I can remember countless times when I was down on myself about failing at a sport or something I was attempting and his response was a very simple, “If it was easy, anybody could do it.”

That had a huge impact on me.

Volunteer For The Jobs Nobody Else Wants

Perhaps one of the best single pieces of advise he ever gave me was to volunteer for the jobs nobody else wanted. Not take them if offered…but actually volunteer. Early in my career, I used this a lot and was able to therefore learn a lot about the company and be exposed to things others weren’t.

Did it make an impact on my superiors? Absolutely.  But, more importantly I was able to gain experience in areas that other salespeople were lacking.

Now, I’m not taking about cleaning toilets or taking out the trash—though I did do some of that in high school jobs. I’m talking about taking the account everyone is avoiding—volunteering to come in on an off day to help get a project done and so forth.

I wanted to be a Difference Maker—and I started early.

If It Helped to Worry, I’d Sit Down There And Worry With You

Finally, if there’s something I could pass along to you it would be this, “If it helped to worry, I’d sit down there and worry with you.”   Too many times we agonize and worry over things that never come to pass and I was guilty of this for many, many years.

Only after my Dad was gone and I had my heart surgery, did I start to try to take things a little slower. Worry kills your creativity, your energy and your motivation.

And think about it, what good does it do?

Nothing. It simply robs you of today.

Though he didn’t say it to me, I’m sure my father was a “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” guy.

So, there you have four great sales lessons I learned from my late father. I hope you gain a fraction of what I did from them.