Experience & Learning
A successful salesman, sales manager and business owner, coauthor Donald S. Crawford understands the selling process. His experience comes from years of working in both large and small companies, selling technically complex products to businesses. He has managed sales teams of distributors and reps as well as employees.
A lifelong learner, Don continues to study the art and science of selling. He also coaches sales teams and individuals to help them exceed their goals. Don was an adjunct professor, teaching sales and marketing courses at James Madison University, Old Dominion University and Thomas Nelson Community College.
He went to the Virginia Military Institute way back when it was an all-male college, so his interactions with women were entirely social at that time. After graduation, Don served in the United States Air Force. While he was in the Air Force, he attended the University of Missouri at Kansas City and obtained his Masters in Business Administration (MBA). Always an observant young man, he quickly realized there were women in the classroom.
Until this time, he hadn’t given much thought to learning with women since high school. But he started to notice that the women thought differently than his male counterparts. Their questions and answers came from places he never imagined, and often took the discussions much deeper than the ones that involved only men. “I also noticed that women were often more tentative in their responses, and for the male ear, they usually used far too many words,” he says. “The men occasionally zoned out.”
Don inherited the gene for sales and marketing from his parents. During high school, his mother owned a children’s clothing shop that prided itself on customer service. He saw how she handled her customers, and he paid attention. He later modeled his behavior after what he observed his mother doing during those formative years.
After leaving the United States Army, his father’s second career was a traveling salesman. That’s what they called them back in the 60s and 70s. He sold fasteners to the furniture and mobile home industry throughout Virginia, West Virginia and North Carolina. His dad would leave home each Monday morning, drive his route, see his customers, get their orders and return home on Friday afternoon. He liked his job and his customers liked him. He did well. This was long before faxes, email and cell phones, so the paperwork waited until he returned.
“In addition to my dad, there were other mentors over the years,” says Don. “John Fowler owned the first company I sold for. He had a material-handling equipment distributorship in the Chicago, Illinois area. Sales training from John was short. He gave me a catalog, price sheet and a map with a line on it. ‘Everything north of that line is your responsibility; now go sell something’ was the extent of my first sales-training experience.”
Ralph Rogers, Butch Hutton and Joe Smith taught Don how to build strong relationships. Ed Polsak and Dave Dahlstrom showed him how to quickly develop good product knowledge of complex products. Jim Wilson showed Don Jim’s simple selling system and encouraged Don to pay attention to what he did and how he did it. Don is also an avid reader of books on selling and listener of audios on personal development. He has put the best of what he’s learned in this book.