The Stockholm’s ‘’The Wolf of Wall Street’’
I applied for 500 jobs in Stockholm, and after 4 interviews at one company, very soon I got a job offer in city centre. The founder of company, several decades ago, when he was young man, he was (re)selling tickets for tennis (The Wimbledon), and everything started like that. Today, the company has more than 60 offices worldwide and is a leading company in corporate hospitality.
My job was to sell VIP tickets for the most exclusive world sport events, from Formula 1, football (Champion League final), basketball (NBA), tennis (Wimbledon), golf, etc. The sale was through phone. In general, I have never liked to talk through phone; therefore this was a unique chance to improve this important skill. Being at this position I was able to gain best lessons and mentorship related to sales, ever. First 2 days, 2 experienced sales managers organized an all-day and very intensive training. Both came from London to Stockholm, just to educate my colleague from Spain and myself.
I started to sell VIP tickets for Formula 1 in Bridgestone (UK). After 2 days of training, I started to contact the companies and to pitch executive directors in the UK. I got a list of 3,000 contacts, and the task was to have minimum 100 ‘’cold calls’’ each day, to get executives’ cell phone numbers and sell them VIP tickets. Just imagine yourself calling every day someone who is not expecting your call, and that you are selling something very expensive to that person. It was a big challenge.
The office was divided into two segments. Our part consisted of 6 guys selling sport events, while other colleagues sold another type of events, such as seminars, education, etc. At my desk, there were 3 UK guys, 1 from Australia, and 1 from Spain. Two guys from the UK and a guy from Australia could not manage to sell a single ticket for several months. I am saying this, just to show how difficult it was to sell even for colleagues from the English-speaking area. But the money prize was worth of the effort.
''The Wolf of Wall Street''
However, there he was - ''The Wolf of Wall Street" (or maybe it is better to say of Stureplan:), a British man from London, 2 years younger than me. He was already 4 years at the firm. A year in London, a year in Asia, a year in Spain, and then came to Stockholm to improve the performance of the office in Sweden. This sales manager was an undisputed and top-notch expert in his work. It is incredible how much he reminded me of Leonardo Di Caprio from the movie ''The Wolf of Wall Street". While we were all struggling, even to contact the director of a worldwide corporation, to whom we would later sell tickets, he stood confidently and decisively in an attempt to convince the other party to buy something they had not planned. And he was very successful. He unselfishly shared his experience with us, listened to us how we pitched, corrected us, he was patient and supported us, as a true mentor.
Since I got a list of 3,000 contacts, which was not really up to date, it often happened that a director no longer works in that company. In order to understand my position, I did not get mobile numbers of directors, but a regular fixed number of the firm. My job was to avoid a business secretary and come as easily as possible to the director and to pitch them my product. This was very difficult, because just imagine how many companies contact daily executives of large corporations in order to sell them a product or service. So business secretaries in the UK were very good at making things hard for me, but I was trained to deal with them, sometimes less, sometimes more successful, however it is a matter of exercise and attitude. Once it happened to me that I called and asked for a director, and to get the answer that a man died two years ago. There were many inconveniences of this type.
A very interesting colleague from Bangladesh, who was selling tickets for seminars and education, was sitting close to me. The company's policy is a corporate dress code, although none of the customers has ever seen us. This colleague had a bit funny old-fashion suits, ties and shoes, as he was from the '70s. His English was with a pronounced accent, sometimes not so understandable. However, he was incredibly persistent. He called, called and called. In the office there was a gong and if someone would sell tickets, we would all know. That was the most beautiful sound, as we would all be happy because somebody sold something. It was an excellent method for a feel of belonging and motivation. The company was transparent, and we all knew how much each of us sold that month. The above-mentioned colleague was the best seller of that month, and we all applauded and congratulated him on that. I recall that besides basic salary, he got a great bonus (20x average salaries in my country:) that month.
I got up at 6 am, took a shower, took a breakfast, and went to the train station that took me 15 minutes. As I lived in Vasteras, I needed about 1 hour to get to Stockholm by train. Then, from the train station to the office in the center, again 15 minutes by walk. So it took me about 90 minutes to get to work. The working hours were from 8:30 to 17:30h, with a break of 1h. Then again 90 minutes back until I come home. It was a true western, capitalist system, which was very demanding and exhausting. I remember that after such 12h (9h at work and 3h on the way) I was for nothing, I would just be tired, and fall asleep. Tomorrow was again the same matrix. Minimum 100 calls every day. It was not easy. Every day you get so much "NO" answers. The motivation was an ability to make a career progress, and to earn good money. I lived for the weekend.
My work residence permit in Sweden was shortly expiring. I had only few weeks away. Although "The Wolf of Wall Street" was promising me that the company would sponsor my residence permit, and that I should focus on my job, in the end they did not done it. However, I am not complaining, I gave everything that was up to me. It was a great experience; I gained excellent sales skills, and learned that on each "NO" from a potential buyer, I always have a ready answer. I learned how important is to be persistent in selling and the significance of ABC (''Always Be Closing''). This means to focus on closing your sale, and to use each opportunity to persuade a customer to buy your product. I came out satisfied because I learned a lot in a very short time, while on the other hand I did not see myself in this role/company.
I think that we all need sales skills. If we do not know how to sell ourselves, then how will we sell a product or service? Therefore, I constantly persuade the importance of gaining sales knowledge and skills.