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, where Don learned discipline and follow-through, both skills needed in the sales industry (and any profession). VMI also stresses integrity, which comes naturally to Don; it’s one of his core values. After graduation, he 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).
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 on 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.” Although John didn’t provide much formal training to Don, he provided excellent customer service to his customers, thought outside the box, and modeled good sales behavior.
Other colleagues and supervisors—Ralph Rogers, Butch Hutton and Joe Smith—taught Don how to build strong relationships. Colleagues Ed Polsak and Dave Dahlstrom showed him how to quickly develop good product knowledge of complex products. Jim Wilson, a sales trainer and coach, 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.