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5 Steps to Avoid the Death of a Salesman | Mary Biever | One Writing Mother

5 Steps to Avoid the Death of a Salesman

Willy Loman made it in sales in the 1950’s. By the 1970’s, his “charm”  failed in Arthur Miller’s tragedy, Death of a Salesman. When Willy realized he couldn’t sell in a new world, he killed himself. 

We’re in a tough economy of salespeople who want a happy ending. What once worked doesn’t.  Everything is different. We don’t know the end of the story or how the new economy will look. How do we change and survive?

  1. Listen – Willy’s boss, family, and friends tried to discuss problems with him. He would not listen.  Find your customers, potential customers, competitors, vendors, friends, and peers. What are they saying and where? 
  2. Learn – Willy discouraged his sons from studying new things. Do better. Learn to use new tools like Facebook, blogs, videos, and Twitter.  Make the time to learn to use them well. Your ROI in learning today could be that your business survives tomorrow.
  3. Position – Willy got so involved selling gizmos he didn’t think position. Then his boss fired him to position the business. Don’t be a pawn in chess – position your pieces across the board. Think strategy, not mere tactics. Anticipate; global is the new local. Find peers and potential customers around the planet. Surround yourself with great pros who will raise your game.
  4. Brand – Willy’s brand was full of sound and bluster, signifying nothing. The new brand shows who you and your company really are.  If you don’t build your brand, you won’t have a voice in what your brand becomes.  Your every move, online and in real life, reflects your brand. So be smart, be good, and be branded the same.
  5. Build – Willy only spoke of himself and his illusions of greatness. No one listened.  They didn’t think he cared, so they didn’t. If you build relationships, communities, and others, they will see that you care and will then pay attention to what you have to say.

Businesses survive when they listen to their customers’ needs, they provide the product to meet that need, their customers buy it, and their customers tell their friends. Purpose driven, not product driven, thrives.

Arthur Miller understood desperation in changing times. He captured how awful it feels.

I met him at a reading years ago, as he shared a new play.  Though his voice cracked and he was frail, he moved me to tears.  Unlike Willy, Arthur never gave up.

We can do the same.


One Response to “5 Steps to Avoid the Death of a Salesman”

  1. Duke Long September 13, 2010 at 1:50 pm #

    Mary,
    Moving and great advice for anyone in business. Thanks for sharing.

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