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Zig's Simple Technique for Building a Great Company

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If you're not familiar with Zig Ziglar, he was a well-known author, master salesman, and motivational speaker. Unfortunately Zig passed away last November. I apologize for taking so long to honor him with this essay, in which I tell my favorite Zig Ziglar story.

In Zig's early years as a salesman, he visited peoples' homes, making presentations to sell them high-quality cookware.

He had a competent assistant at the time who helped him keep track of appointments and handled administrative duties. One week, however, Zig realized he had two appointments scheduled for the same time. Not waiting to cancel any appointments he asked his assistant to cover one of the appointments for him.

She was terrified.  She did not want to do it and he wasn't going to make her!

Being the consummate salesman that he was, Zig eventually got her to calm down.  Then he assured her that she knew the presentation as well as he did, and that she would do great.  After he solemnly promised to never ask her to do a presentation again, she agreed to cover the appointment just that one time. 

Zig recounts that at the end of the evening, she was convinced she had fumbled half the presentation. But, to her surprise and delight, the clients ordered quite a bit of cookware.  Most surprising, is that when she got over her nerves, she found she rather enjoyed the experience. 

His timid and sales-panicked assistant evolved into a top notch salesperson, was his right hand partner for many years, and years later (with his delighted consent) became a highly-sought out and respected sales trainer for a leading cosmetic company.

Zig shared this story to show human potential.  He puts all the praise on her and generously applauds her for her accomplishments.  While I am inspired by her transformation, I want to focus on his role in her transformation because I believe that was Zig's greatest gift to the business world.  Yes, his sales training is worth bars of gold, but ultimately what really made him a success was his ability to develop others.

He could have made millions as a star salesperson.  He could have kept his philosophy, his techniques, and his secrets to success all to himself.  Instead, he made hundreds of millions by sincerely applying himself to improving everyone around him who was willing to listen.

Zig Ziglar was a true leader.

Yes, he sold books, and videos, made speeches, and made money, but he invested in people.  He believed that the success of a company was largely dependent on the quality of their sales force, and the quality of their sales force was solely dependent on how much that force really cared about helping people.

And, a sales force isn't going to care about helping anyone if they don't feel that their company cares about them. 

Zig could have benched his assistant, sent her right back to her phone and typewriter after she covered that one appointment.  Instead, he nurtured her potential and encouraged her to continue developing her sales skills.  Now think about this, how much more money did Zig make by having her on his team at her full potential instead of at her lowest potential? 

How much more money will your company generate if you make the time to develop your team to their full potential? Beyond just money, how much loyalty will you cultivate? Will you feel more confident about your future success when you have a top-notch team you can trust?  How many talented people will want to work for you when the word gets out about your leadership?

Yes, it takes time and energy, yet Zig demonstrated over and over that when you invest in helping someone be the best version of themselves possible, the rewards, material and otherwise, greatly outweigh the sacrifice.

Zig Ziglar died in November of 2012.  He left behind dozens of books, thousands of hours of video and audio, and most of all, he left behind millions of grateful professionals whose lives were touched and even changed by the empowering lessons he left behind.  His message that you could accomplish more in life and in business through caring and investing in the success of others is a timeless gem that lives on.

As he once said, "You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want."

Rest in peace Zig.  We'll miss you. And for all of you listening, develop your employees and customers, and everyone around you, to their full potential, and you will achieve incredible success!


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