Dan Keller, Ten Commandments of Sales
Dan Keller is a man of many traits, and one thing this guy knows is sales. Dan has started many companies in which some have failed and some have prospered, but the knowledge that he received from all of them led him to one project that seems to be very successful. Four years ago after selling off his mortgage company to a bank he took some time off to play golf, spend time with family, and put all his knowledge down on paper. Although it looked like chicken scratch four years ago, today that project is called “The Ten Commandments of Sales.”
Dan, tell us a little about your upbringing?
I grew up in the Northside of Pittsburgh. Nothing beats the experience of growing up in the heart of the city like that. You learn the value of friendship, alliances, how to talk to people, and of course who to steer clear from. When I was 11 years old I got my first job at Shannopin Country Club. My brother and I would take a bus there everyday where we would carry bags, two at a time, for 18 holes. We were paid $3.50 plus tips for every bag we carried. This is where I learned how to act, and more importantly how not to act.
So would you say being a caddy almost molded the man you are today?
Being a caddy taught me so much and it taught me a lot about money. One of the biggest things it taught me was that just because you had money didn’t mean that you had CLASS, or that you knew how to treat people. It was on that golf course that I learned a few things about myself. One that I loved working with people, two that I loved to be of service, three that I loved to make money, and finally it showed me that the harder I worked the more money I made. I didn’t know it at the time, but on that golf course I was learning to be a great salesperson!!
So it is easy to say that you really enjoyed that job. Tell me about a job you had that you hated?
I’ll save most of the gory details for when we talk about “bad bosses”! But it was my first job out of college and this worthless excuse for a manager/leader would routinely reduce me to tears. I would hold my composure, leave the office, get into my nice company car and then cry all the way home like a child……the good news for all of us is by now he’s either a) dead or b) retired and not demoralizing any other bright-eyed and bushy tailed young sales people!!
That sounds like something out of the movie “Horrible Bosses”! So lets get down to business. Tell me how you started the Ten Commandements of Sales, and what inspired you to start such a project?
I had always made it a professional practice to read professional self improvment books, seminars, tapes etc. I had this idea about putting my own thoughts down on paper in a subsequent book and recording for some time. Since I had just sold a successful mortgage company to a local bank I had taken some time off to play golf, read, and relax. After a while, creative juices started flowing and before I knew it, I had filled a notebook full of hand-written ramblings, that later organized into topics and chapters. I was 49 at the time…really, at mid-career (hopefully), had done a lot & seen a lot, had some successes, had some failure and at the end of the day thought I had something meaningful to say. After seeing, what I thought was an alarmingly sad slide in the level of skill on the part of younger people in the sales force along with the lacking skill in professional sales “management” I decided to act. One example is seeing that the superstar sales people are promoted into sales management, while that model can work, it rarely does. Think about it, regardless of the sport, how many great coaches were great players? Mike Tomlin never played pro football. Bill Cowher was a special teams player, and when Michael Jordan tried to be a player/coach for the Washington Wizards it was a disaster. Just because someone can put the ball in the hoop, doesn’t mean they can teach others to do it too.
With all that being said, what inspired me was seeing young sales people struggling, getting discouraged, and drowding in failure all because they were never taught the basics of sales. From my view no one was teaching about that gut level, belly to belly, street level, doin’ it every day sales! This is where I come in!! I wanted to craft something for the sales person on the street that would be infinitely use-able in plain english, written in earthy, straight talk that a working sales professional could appreciate-key here, written by a person who was STILL a working, productive sales person-not some b.s. consultant or professsor who had long since forgotten how to “put the ball in the hoop”
Last question and I will leave you alone. How would you encourage young sales reps to keep going after getting rejected?
That is tough because after thirty years rejection still bothers me. If it didn’t bother me though, I would be worried because that would mean I didn’t care anymore. That being said, in the immortal words of Michael Corleone in Godfather One… “it’s strictly business”. You have to remember that. It is just business!! It is not your marriage, it is not your child. It is just dollars and cents. No is never a final answer….it is just a NO right now.
Dan can be contacted at: email@example.com