"You have a book in you Gordo!"
To the bloke who first said that.........thanks a lot!
It's not as easy as it looks. I reckon I started this book a dozen times over the past five years.
I had so much to say and so many little stories, it should have been an easy task.
But, as those who sit in front of a keyboard for the first time soon discover, it wasn't. Then, one day, it felt like the right time had arrived and it just started to flow, but a little voice in my head kept asking, "the title, what's a fitting title?"
I struggled with a title for a while, but eventually settled on "In The Trade" because it's a question so often asked of others that we meet and believe are, like us, (car sales people).
"Are you In The Trade?" regularly comes up in a conversation. If you're in the trade, you immediatly understand the question being asked. We're seriously ruthless competitors during sales hours, but when we finally slam the bags and head off home, we tend to seek out fellow sufferers to either celebrate a great sales day, or more often than not, to commiserate on a day full of tyre kickers and time wasters. A band of brothers we are. I soon felt comfortable with my choice of title.
I dedicate this book to my family, both past and present.
To Richard McLeish the shoe-maker and William Murphy the brush-maker who passed on their sales DNA to me.
To John McLeish & Rebecca McGartland Murphy my parents, who loved, nurtured and encouraged me and finally.......
To Cameron John McLeish the car dealer, to whom I now pass the "sales baton" and my sales DNA. You are the best car sales person I've ever seen work their craft. You make me proud to say "you're my son".
Ask any kid between the ages of 6 and 10 what they want to be when they grow up and you will probably hear things like, fireman, AFL footballer or even a teacher. Others that are more ambitious might mention things like astronaut, doctor, or nurse.
Chances are, you probably will never hear a kid mention salesperson. In reality, no one really aspires to be a sale person when they are growing up. In most cases it becomes a career by default.
So why are some sales people superstars, while others in the same situation, basically selling the same stuff, to the same customers, not as successful? Given the same sales tools, same level of education, and motivation, why do some salespeople succeed where others fail?
Is their success a result of working harder or smarter? Are they just “luckier” than their counterparts?
If you ask an extremely successful salesperson, “What makes you different from the average sales rep?” you will probably get a pretty vague answer, if any answer at all. Why? Because, the real answer is that most successful salespeople are simply doing what comes naturally.
We are all born with certain innate abilities, attributes, qualities and traits. Natural instincts that are encoded into each of us via our genetic make up. Your DNA (Deoxyribonucleic Acid) or what I prefer to say: your Distinct and Natural Abilities (DNA) determines your structure, function and behavior. It is physically what we are and genetically who we are. It also determines who we can become.
Is there such a thing as Sales DNA? Is there a genetic code for successful sales people? Is sales ability natural or learned? While it’s a topic that has been debated for years (and will be debated for years to come), my thoughts, it’s both.
Sales people are both born and made. Yes there are underlying traits in every good sales person. Certain “molecules” for success, natural attributes like outgoing, articulate, optimistic, assertive, and competiveness. But selling is a process that also requires learning, developing, and practicing specific skills.
In other words, you may have Sales DNA, (aka a given talent) but, and it’s a big but, you have to have the will, the determination and desire to be successful.
My great grandfathers had that sales ability. Both were apprentices and both would have had to learn the sales process of their trades, William as a Brushmaker (Salesman) and Richard as a Shoemaker (Salesman)
It's fine and dandy to make wonderful and bespoke things but if no one buys them, you starve. Times were tough back then, so what makes your product that different to all the rest? The answer: YOU.
To have, raise and feed their very large families, they needed to be the best of the best at selling. They needed guts and determination, for sure, but they needed an extra element as well to succeed. The element called Sales DNA.
At 16 years of age I was called into the chief accountant (Mr Powers) office and told that I was going to be in charge of a group he was allowing to go see the official reception of the Beatles.
He said quite sternly “Gordon, I want you to go down to the Town Hall with some of the older ladies in the office and some of the department managers private secretaries to see this band called The Beatles. Make sure that they all get back before 4pm. I’m counting on you”
That was never going to happen. It would have been easier herding cats.
Once there, we all got separated and that was it.
My first ever big challenge from management was a failure.
Australian entrepreneur Kenn Brodziak had booked the group 12 months earlier, just before the eruption of Beatlemania, for an unbelievable £2500 ($5000) per week. The support acts for the tour were booked by venues manager Dick Lean. Melbourne singer Johnny Chester had already supported several international acts and compered the television program Teen Time.
Johnny Devlin, a major star in New Zealand and Australian since the late 1950s, was selected because of his trans-Tasman appeal. And Melbourne-based instrumental group The Phantoms, styled on Britain’s The Shadows, were chosen as backing band for Chester and Devlin.
At first, Chester was disappointed that he couldn’t use his regular band, the Chessmen, but eventually signed a contract for £125 ($250) a week. “It was such a thrill to be asked that I would have probably paid for the opportunity,” he laughs. Devlin signed but was less impressed with the money, at the time earning between £200 ($400) and £300 ($600) per week for his regular gigs.
For Noel Tresider, keyboard player with The Phantoms, the experience of being thrust into the madness of Beatlemania was even more striking than for the other Australian support acts.
“I was brought in especially for the tour” he recalls. “I was 23 years old and studying chemistry at Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology. My musical career was just part-time and the £50 a week contract was much more than the three guineas a week I was earning as an accompanist on radio 3DB in Melbourne.”
After a day’s rest in Sydney, the Beatles headed for the opening concerts in Adelaide in a chartered Fokker Friendship aircraft. As throughout the tour, the support acts travelled with the Beatles. Ringo Starr, recovering from tonsillitis, was yet to arrive in Australia and his place was filled in Adelaide by British drummer Jimmy Nicol.
Tresider remembers the crowds, estimated at more than 250,000 people that lined the route from Adelaide airport to the city. The Beatles travelled in a convertible, the rest of the party in sedans. “The fans were all screaming as we went past. They had no idea who was in the cars”
Audiences paid up to 37/- ($3.70) a seat for the concerts. There were two sessions a night, one at 6pm and the second at 8:30pm.I was there. So were a dozen girls including some of the “older ladies” from the typing pool.
By today’s standards it was an unusual format. The first half began with British compere Alan Field performing several Frank Sinatra songs. He then introduced Devlin, dressed in a black leather suit, who sang four numbers including the hit C’mon Everybody. Chester followed with four numbers ranging from Elvis Presley’s (You’re So Square) Baby, I Don’t Care to Little Richard’s Miss Ann. The 45-minute first half concluded with the British instrumental group Sounds Incorporated, who were part of Beatles manager Brian Epstein’s stable.
After the interval the Beatles performed the second half of the show, a 30-minute set of just 11 songs from their then first two albums, as well as Can’t Buy Me Love from their soon-to-be released A Hard Day’s Night.
The Australian support acts, after finishing their performances each night, would always remain to watch the proceedings. And “watch” was the operative word. “You couldn’t hear the music,” Devlin recalls. “It was a mad screaming frenzy. Chester agrees: “None of us were used to anything on this scale. Although the adulation wasn’t directed at us, it was hard not to get caught up in all the excitement.”
In the 1950s, singers such as Johnny Ray and Frank Sinatra had attracted screaming audiences. However, this was the first time that a group, outside a Royal Tour, had enjoyed such hysteria and blanket media coverage.
Bob Rogers, then a disc jockey for Sydney radio station 2SM, was with the group throughout the tour. "To be on tour with the Beatles meant living every minute upside-down and inside-out," he recalls. "It was mentally and physically exhausting. And everything the Beatles said or did was of momentous importance, even if they'd said or done it many times before. That was part of Beatlemania."
Off-stage, the Beatles were unassuming. “Between shows, we would eat together and talk in the dressing rooms,” Chester says. “I remember having a long talk with George Harrison backstage at Festival Hall in Melbourne. We shared a similar interest in cars ‚ with one difference. He had just bought an E-type Jag while I was still driving my FE Holden.”
Note about a Holden FE.
I first set eyes on an FE Holden in 1957. I was walking home from school one day and it was parked just up from our house in Deakin Street, East Bentleigh. I must have spent over an hour just walking around admiring it. I thought it was amazing and the nearest thing to a Chevrolet that I’d ever seen (and it was there, “in my street”). I made a promise to myself right there that one day that I would own one of these cars.