The Cowboy’s Story

The Cowboy’s Story

From A 2nd Helping of Chicken Soup for the Soul

The Cowboy’s Story

When I started my telecommunications company, I knew I was going to need salespeople to help me expand the business. I put the word out that I was looking for qualified salespeople and began the interviewing process. The salesperson I had in mind was experienced in the telemarketing communications industry, knew the local market, had experience with the various types of systems available, had a professional demeanor and was a self-starter. I had very little time to train a person, so it was important that the salesperson I hired could “hit the ground running.”

During the tiresome process of interviewing prospective salespeople, into my office walked a cowboy. I knew he was a cowboy by the way he was dressed. He had on corduroy pants and a corduroy jacket that didn’t match the pants; a short-sleeved snap-button shirt; a tie that came about halfway down his chest with a knot bigger than my fist; cowboy boots; and a baseball cap. You can imagine what I was thinking: “Not what I had in mind for my new company.” He sat down in front of my desk, took off his cap and said, “Mister, I’d just shore appreciate a chance to be a success in the telephone biness.” And that’s just how he said it, too: biness.

I was trying to figure out a way to tell this fellow, without being too blunt, that he just wasn’t what I had in mind at all. I asked him about his background. He said he had a degree in agriculture from Oklahoma State University and that he had been a ranch hand in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, for the past few years during the summers. He announced that was all over now, he was ready to be a success in “biness,” and he would just “shore appreciate a chance.”

We continued to talk. He was so focused on success and how he would “shore appreciate a chance” that I decided to give him a chance. I told him that I would spend two days with him. In those two days I would teach him everything I thought he needed to know to sell one type of very small telephone system. At the end of those two days he would be on his own. He asked me how much money I thought he could make.

I told him, “Looking like you look and knowing what you know, the best you can do is about $1,000 per month.” I went on to explain that the average commission on the small telephone systems he would be selling was approximately $250 per system. I told him if he would see 100 prospects per month, that he would sell four of those prospects a telephone system. Selling four telephone systems would give him $1,000. I hired him on straight commission with no base salary.

He said that sounded great to him because the most he had ever made was $400 per month as a ranch hand and he was ready to make some money. The next morning, I sat him down to cram as much of the telephone “biness” I could into a 22-year-old cowboy with no business experience, no telephone experience and no sales experience. He looked like anything but a professional salesperson in the telecommunications business. In fact, he had none of the qualities I was looking for in an employee, except one: He had an incredible focus on being a success.

At the end of two days of training, Cowboy (that’s what I called him then, and still do) went to his cubicle. He took out a sheet of paper and wrote down four things:

1. I will be a success in business.

2. I will see 100 people per month.

3. I will sell four telephone systems per month.

4. I will make $1,000 per month.

He placed this sheet of paper on the cubicle wall in front of him and started to work.

At the end of the first month, he hadn’t sold four telephone systems. However, at the end of his first ten days, he had sold seven telephone systems.

At the end of his first year, Cowboy hadn’t earned $12,000 in commissions. Instead, he had earned over $60,000 in commissions.

He was indeed amazing. One day, he walked into my office with a contract and payment on a telephone system. I asked him how he had sold this one. He said, “I just told her, ‘Ma’am, if it don’t do nothing but ring and you answer it, it’s a heck of a lot prettier than that one you got.’ She bought it.”

The woman wrote him a check in full for the telephone system, but Cowboy wasn’t really sure I would take a check, so he drove her to the bank and had her get cash to pay for the system. He carried thousand-dollar bills into my office and said, “Larry, did I do good?” I assured him that he did good!

After three years, he owned half of my company. At the end of another year, he owned three other companies. At that time we separated as business partners. He was driving a $32,000 black pickup truck. He was wearing $600 cowboy-cut suits, $500 cowboy boots and a three-carat horseshoe-shaped diamond ring. He had become a success in “biness.”

What made Cowboy a success? Was it because he was a hard worker? That helped. Was it because he was smarter than everyone else? No. He knew nothing about the telephone business when he started. So what was it? I believe it was because he knew the Ya Gotta’s for Success:

He was focused on success. He knew that’s what he wanted and he went after it.

He took responsibility. He took responsibility for where he was, who he was and what he was (a ranch hand). Then he took action to make it different.

He made a decision to leave the ranch in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, and to look for opportunities to become a success.

He changed. There was no way that he could keep doing the things that he had been doing and receive different results. And he was willing to do what was necessary to make success happen for him.

He had vision and goals. He saw himself as a success. He also had written down specific goals. He wrote down the four items that he intended to accomplish and put them on the wall in front of him. He saw those goals every day and focused on their accomplishment.

He put action to his goals and stayed with it even when it got tough. It wasn’t always easy for him. He experienced slumps like everyone does. He got more doors slammed in his face and telephones in his ear than any salesperson I have ever known. But he never let it stop him. He kept on going.

He asked. Boy, did he ask! First he asked me for a chance, then he asked nearly all the people he came across if they wanted to buy a telephone system from him. And his asking paid off. As he likes to put it, “Even a blind hog finds an acorn every once in a while.” That simply means that if you ask enough, eventually someone will say yes.

He cared. He cared about me and his customers. He discovered that when he cared more about taking care of his customers than he cared about taking care of himself, it wasn’t long before he didn’t have to worry about taking care of himself.

Most of all, Cowboy started every day as a winner! He hit the front door expecting something good to happen. He believed that things were going to go his way regardless of what happened. He had no expectation of failure, only an expectation of success. And I’ve found that when you expect success and take action on that expectation, you almost always get success.

Cowboy has made millions of dollars. He has also lost it all, only to get it all back again. In his life as in mine, it has been that once you know and practice the principles of success, they will work for you again and again.

He can also be an inspiration to you. He is proof that it’s not environment or education or technical skills and ability that make you a success. He proves that it takes more: It takes the principles we so often overlook or take for granted. These are the principles of the Ya Gotta’s for Success.

Larry Winget

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